Saturday, December 22, 2007

Twitter as a messaging platform

When you have an itch, scratch it!

Well, that's what I've started to do. My itch is a common one in the UK and probably throughout Europe and certain parts of the world, but when you generalise it, it becomes a problem that nearly every one has. When there's a certain piece of information that I want to know as it happens, how do I find that out?

For me, it's Arsenal scores. I'm a big Arsenal fan, and unfortunately I don't get to see many games live (other wise I might not have this problem). As much as Arsenal play on TV, I often don't get a chance to see that either, I don't subscribe to Sky or cable, so I'll pop to the pub. Anyhoo, I want to know when there's a change of score, and I want to know the final score of all Arsenal games. So what did I do about it?

Let's put that question to one side for now and look at Twitter. I've been using Twitter for a few months and I'm lovin' it! One of the key points here is that it's a pulling mechanism of messaging. You have to 'follow' someone to view their updates but you can view those messages on the web, through RSS, third party applications (using the Twitter web API or RSS) or through SMS.

Let's get back to the question at hand. The Beeb has a great website for sport, particularly their refreshing latest score pages. Although not RSS, which is a shame, the page is formatted nicely, so writing an application to extract key data is pretty simple. Twitter can then be used to post that data too and anyone, myself included, can subscribe that information in my preferred means.

Looking back at the little application I wrote, it's screamingly obvious that with easy to use web APIs all you have to do is write some plumbing code to do what you want to do and scratch that itch that's been irritating you.

So far, I've created users on Twitter for Arsenal, Birmingham and Manchester Utd.

Soon, I'll be creating users for all Premiership clubs and pushing this a little more. Let me know if you have an itch (or well, at least a team you'd like to follow, it can be any team that has a live scores page from the BBC Sport Football website), let me know =)

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