Twitter announced a geolocation API today and it set my mind to spinning with implications that I tweeted like a Gatling gun:
* For news, it would be possible to verify that witnesses reporting what they see are where they say they are. Twitpics can be geotagged.
* Local news organizations should build apps to track surges of activity around any address. Could be a news event. Could be hipsters congregating (telling one where hippness happens).
* News orgs could also use it as a reporting tool: the fabled pothole report via Twitter.
* A hyperlocal blog could set up a feed of your neighbors’ tweets all around town.
* Over time, the geoTwitter enables what I’ve been thinking of as the annotation layer atop the real world: diners create simple reviews of a restaurant simply around location, anyone annotating any location.
* I wonder about the commercial applications: subscribing to tweet ads near me.
The live web, the social web, and the geo web come together.
Now there are caveats aplenty. Foursquare is similar and hasn’t yet burned up the world and neither has Google Latitude. Laptops need geolocation. There are privacy concerns that may stop people from switching on geolocation (the default is off). There are dangers; geolocation could have made tweets from Iran more credible but also more perilous for the authors. I wonder why Twitter is choosing to erase geo data after time; this diminishes the value of the annotation layer.
But still, a simple API like this can make the mind spin. Now combine geoTwitter with my recent obsession, Google Wave, and imagine how live and collaborative content can be enhanced with geography. Or add geography to Marissa Mayer’s vision of the hyperpersonal news stream. The possibilities are endless.