Ad hoc trend tracking (or where’s it snowing?)

The heavy snow falls last week in the UK have caused quite a lot of chaos, a lot of which is due to not knowing how bad off different areas were. Ben Marsh created a mashup of a snowmap last Sunday, before snow had fallen over much of the UK, which plotted posts on twitter with the #snowuk tag against a photo and report of the snow level. This shows how quickly it is possible to directly track things over the internet using an ad hoc organised system over services like Twitter.

Contrasting to my last post, where the trend was tracked indirectly, this is directly tracking on outbreak of snow with tags from people. This is tending towards ideas from the semantic web by making information more machine readable, and twitter is encouraging this with the internet population. This is not done in a semantically strict way though but using ad hoc tags and meaning decided by people as they are needed, as we have learnt from the past with the web.  This is probably more the way people would want to interact with the semantic web, but it does remove some of the key ideas of interoperability and data linking.

Mashups like this won’t be able to accurately or reliably predict anything but they do have a very fast reaction time. This makes them very useful to people, which is what matters, so how can we start using systems like this on a more global scale?

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About Me

I'm a student at Edinburgh University studying Artificial Intelligence. Find out more about me and my projects on my website

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