When we first looked at geo-centric Twitter trend-tracking service Trendsmap it had one notable shortcoming: It was unable to drill down to an accurate city level. The good news is that this is about to change.
With the inclusion of geo-location as part of tweets, sites like Trendsmap will be getting a whole lot more detailed. Though even now, getting enough geo-tagged tweets has proven to be a challenge.
CNET met with Trendsmap's lead developer is John Barratt on Tuesday, who explained that while the geo feature has been live on Twitter for some time now, people just aren't using it enough for developers to mine trend data from those tweets. "When we launched, users only had their location in their profile," Barratt said. "We've seen a dramatic increase of mobile clients able to update their location. I couldn't say when the time will come that geolocation becomes normal though--it's going to take a long time before it's more than half [of new tweets]."
That volume may not be important for other geographically inclined Twitter apps like Tweography or Twittervision, but for Trendsmap, it needs more geotagged tweets to improve its accuracy. "The population increase gives us a higher definition of what trends are important," Barratt explained. Without that, the site may simply be elevating items that are spammy.
To combat the spam, Trendsmap employs its own set of algorithms and filters, which Barratt says has become more complicated with the advent of the re-tweet. Barratt says that in most cases, the re-tweet works fine with real news, but when it's something like a sale, or a promotion from a company it can skew the results. Barratt said that Twitter's own work on this has been helpful, as it screens out some of these tweets before they even hit the API feeds.
Along with being able to drill down even closer in some cities, the site is set to get language localizations, something Barratt said was long overdue. Outside of the U.S., a large chunk of Trendsmap users originate in South America as well as Europe. The additional languages (which are Dutch, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese) will simply pick up local trends in that user's language.
One of the first efforts into the language localization was for the national municipal elections in the Netherlands earlier this year. Trendsmap had to offer the trending results in both English and Dutch, which Barratt said worked well. Though he admitted the efforts made there, as well as the site at large, could be completely stamped out by Twitter's local trends feature, which is currently available for just a handful of cities.
On the horizon for the tool is better support for the iPad and other touch-screen devices, better-looking maps, and words that are easier to read. Those things, Barratt says, will be out to Trendsmap users in the very near future.