Twitter Train Traffic
I still haven't quite talked myself into using Twitter but I suppose I'm inching towards it.
Today I ran across a really cool use of the service, but one that also shows the flaw in its enforced brevity: Swiss rail delays are posted at http://twitter.com/oev.
This is a great idea, and apparently the PR folks at Burson-Marsteller had something to do with it. The only problem is that the cornerstone of Twitter is a 140-character limit on posts ("tweets" to the kids).
So you get things like this:
Zwischen Ramsei und Langnau auf der Linie Burgdorf - Langnau ist die Strecke für den Bahnverkehr un... #sbb #cff #ffs...which translates loosely as "Between Ramsei and Langnau on the Burgdorf-Langnau line, train traffic is un..."
Of course you could always hire a programmer to condense all that into txt-ese bt nobdy likes u thn. Or you could break it into multiple "tweets," but that breaks the paradigm.
Instead, I think Twitter should allow longer "tweets" in cases where all of the following conditions are met:
- The twitterer is a robot.
- The information is also available elsewhere (i.e. it's not someone just asking for special Twitter treatment).
- The feed is clearly a public service.
- Information would clearly be lost at 140 characters.
Traffic reports of all kinds would qualify. Updates from your political party, television show, or church would not.