Microsoft Research launches beta of Twitter aggregator Whooly

Twitter has become a great online resource for getting up-to-the-minute information about, well, most anything. However, it's sometimes a bit of a chore for one person to go through the tons of Twitter messages to find anything that can be helpful to them in a local setting, unless they are tracking very specific hashtags.

Microsoft Research has now launched a new pilot effort, via their FUSE Labs, that aims to bring a local filter to real time Twitter posts. It's called Whooly (pronounced as HOO-lee, by the way) and the team launched a beta of the service today, which is currently limited to the neighborhoods and towns in the Seattle and Redmond areas of Washington.

A post on the official Microsoft blog offers up more information on the service:

Essentially, Whooly automatically discovers, extracts, and summarizes hyper-local Twitter content from communities based on mentions of local neighborhoods and relevant keywords from tweets and profiles. The content is seamlessly organized by neighborhood for a personalized and interactive experience.

The idea is to quickly alert people in a specific area to events via Twitter, good or bad, without having to guess which hashtag or search terms to use. The goal is for people in a particular neighborhood or community to learn more about their area and the people who live there. Shelly Farnham. who is the head researcher on the Whooly team, stated, "If you can get people to talk about communities they care about, they are more likely to participate, like in community rallies or in street-cleanup days."

The Whooly team thinks this small experiment could lead in the future to a whole suite of software tools and services designed to keep track of local civil activities. Andres Monroy-Hernandez, one of the Whooly creators, stated, "In the future, it's going to be necessary and it's going to actually happen that there will be a lot of tools specifically for engaging in collective action."

Source: Microsoft | Image via Microsoft

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