Yep, it’s another post about twitter.

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be about which celebrities I’ve been almost talking to (although having said that I did get into a bit of a back-and-forth with Robert Llewellyn over Big Oil). In fact, I just wanted to highlight a rather interesting experiment in spontaneous ‘crowdsourcing’ (techie/web 2.0 speak for “getting lots of people to do the work for free”), that came about due to this weekends fairly intense winter weather.

As he describes in his blogpost, Paul Clarke came up with a quick ‘n’ dirty format to log the progress of the snow across the UK using the #uksnow tag (which people were reporting in an unstructured manner anyway). As also covered by PeeeBee in his post, the tag is trending pretty well considering it’s Superbowl Sunday.

The data continues to roll in, but as I’ve mentioned before, I think the real value of data is unlocked when you open it up to as many people as possible to use and interpret. This is exactly what Ben Marsh has done with his mashup #uksnow tweet map, which shows the location and severity of the tweeted snow reports on a Google Map.

Ben Marsh's #uksnow tweet map

Ben Marsh's #uksnow tweet map

It’s a work in progress obviously, but the fact that this was all thrown together in less than a day (less than an afternoon even) shows just how quickly data can be manipulated to ‘make sense’.

So kudos to Paul, Ben, and everyone who contributed #uksnow tweets. This may be the start of somethine big, as Paul says himself:

Either way, this is the closest I’ve been to a Twitter meme, and it hasn’t half made me think. And given the day job, and trying to stimulate real innovation in public information, that’s probably quite a good thing. I mean, if this did go anywhere, I can think of quite a few players in my working world who would take it Very Seriously Indeed. And that is a hint, by the way ;-)

The question is, how else can this approach be used? I’ve got a few ideas myself, but your suggestions are welcome!