Monday, November 03, 2008

Using 'Twitter Vote Report' in Your Online Election Coverage

        "I thought it might be a good reporting exercise/cool experiment to set up a Twitter feed for us all to contribute to and report on any voting irregularities, voter intimidation, equipment problems, counting issues, etc. that we come across on Tuesday night," said UMass Amherst journalism instructor  Steve Fox  (  via e-mail to a diverse group of news people and academics.

What a good idea, I thought -- but as a perpetual Twitter user (drbarb ( ), I recalled seeing a Twitter post ("tweet") about that kind of site. My sense of where the future of news lies tells me that "newsies" shouldn't be too quick to reinvent the wheel, especially when it's a tech wheel. Instead of launching a DIY online project it's important to first scout around online and evaluate existing efforts. When you find them, it's best to  work with them  to build synergies between those sites and your own efforts.

Journalists and technologists do need to work together, as  Amy Gahran has suggested . One way to start is to leverage social networking and the link economy to your benefit by sharing the workload with existing projects.

For the type of election watch project Fox was considering, David Cohn (digidave (  on Twitter) recommends Twitter Vote Report (
)  -- a non-partisan, nonprofit site. Cohn also set up a Digg recommendation (  pointing to the project's site. Twitter Vote Report also was mentioned by  Ana Marie Cox  (  in's Swampland blog, the Orlando Sentinel (,0,4183034.story) , Rocketboom ( , and Mashable ( . And of course, the site has been getting widely tweeted and blogged, too.
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1 comment:

Simon Owens said...

Yeah, the Twitter Vote Report is a pretty cool way of aggregating the election day twitter data. I've been working on a similar election project that utilizes Twitter: Freshly Squeezed Tweets. It aggregates tweets like Twitter Vote Report, but it creates a more abstract visualization of the aggregate conversation on Twitter showing frequency and context of election-related words. The site will pull a continuous stream of tweets mentioning Obama and McCain, representing the most-used terms as a series of bubbles. The bigger the "bubble" the more frequently the term is being used. You can hover over each word to see a graphical breakdown of each word's use.