5

Twittering your business away

Screenshot of Twitter for Blackberry smart phones

TEXT OF STORY

Renita Jablonski: Twitter is a fast-growing social networking platform. It allows individuals and businesses to broadcast short text messages to a group of followers. Now, software developers are creating Twitter applications that go beyond strictly human-to-human communication. From the Entrepreneurship Desk at Oregon Public Broadcasting, Mitchell Hartman explains.


Mitchell Hartman: Twitter allows you to send out text messages of up to 140 characters, called "tweets," via cell phone or the Internet. There are a lot of business applications for this: a tea-shop in Wichita, for instance, tweets a weekly flavor poll to its customers. But there are other Twitter-based business models out there.

Kati London: We decided to use the service along with our networked hardware to allow plants to send tweets.

That's right, she said plants Tweeting people. Kati London teaches interactive media at NYU and cofounded a startup called Botanicalls. It's a Twitter app that uses a sensor to measure moisture in potted plants.

London: A decision's made on the circuit board to send a tweet that, for example, the plant is in need of water.

After it drinks, the plant tweets "thanks" to its owner.

Tweet-a-Watt monitors home energy use and reports it back to you via Twitter. There's a Twitter app for home security -- a motion sensor tweets in case of break-in. Another can turn appliances on and off remotely. Twitter's simple, open-source architecture means pretty much anything that can plug into the Internet can tweet.

Rodney Rumford is author of the book "Twitter as a Business Tool":

Rodney Rumford: Programmers could find a way to tie into the machine-language level and interface that with real-world, let's call them "life-hack" type of devices.

This means machines communicating with other machines, plants or animals communicating with us. It also means we can interact with the computers that crunch all the data being collected every minute on Twitter.

Alex Ressi: TweetWhatYouEat simply answers the question, "What did you have to eat today?"

Programmer Alex Ressi's new Twitter app lets you tweet everything that passes your lips. The program then crunches all that food data into an online calorie counter. Meaning you can track your own diet goals up to the minute, and compare your eating habits to others'.

Rodney Rumford says Twitter is allowing us to create new social intelligence about ourselves at breakneck speed.

Rumford: They've really developed the tube, if you will, for this data to flow through. And an easy tube to plug into.

Rumford's favorite new toy: a GPS mapping program that tracks fellow-tweeters in real-time so you can go meet them for drinks or a movie. If you can put your cell phone down that long.

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.
Log in to post5 Comments

Lately all of the media hype about Twitter has made me skeptical, an honestly a bit annoyed. After reading this I realize that there are many useful applications for Twitter. It is really cool to think that a program such as this can interface and connect your home to your cell phone or remote computer. This could also be used for restaraunts or retail stores to tell customers about sales and specials.

Sign me up for your Tweets, and also for a method that will allowing the vines to tell me when they're thirsty and I need to irrigate! Craig Justice, Blue Merle Vineyard.

Great news story! Thanks for keeping it fresh. -Jessica

Mitchell,
I really like the way that you live tweeted it at 3:50 am in the morning. Nice experiment in live tweeting a radio story while it actually airs by the reporter. I believe that just might be a first.

Cheers!

Rodney Rumford

With Generous Support From...