Google Algorithms, Twitter Crowdsources

Sarcasm on Twitter is common. Quite often, because of the short format of Twitter, sarcasm can be misleading. Smileys add a contextual meaning to short messages, and can prevent miscommunications in such cases as: “I’m gonna kill you!… :)” We don’t always think about it, mostly when we don’t think that our sarcasm could have negative repercussions.

Well, guys and gals, here is the story of the guy who got stroke by the most unlikely odds, and experienced his tweets growing into a community alert. Paul is the creator of Boagworld. Paul shares his story here, but I’ll give a shorter version below if you just want the gist of it.

Basically, on this day, Paul was leaving to visit his family, which did not really delight him:

Off to somerset to endure a ‘christmas meal’ with the extended family.

The weather that day was especially bad, which led Paul to write this:

This is turning into the journey from hell. Two roads closed because of floods. One road because of an accident.

And then, when he got to his family’s house and wasn’t happy about it, he wrote this via Brighkite:

Help me. Please help me. –

The geo-localization through Brighkite marked Paul in the middle of nowhere, so one of Paul’s followers on Twitter got scared. He thought Paul might have been a driving victim of the floods. The poor fellow called 911 right away (or whatever the number is in Great Britain), and the fire service dispatched two fire engines to attempt to find Paul.

I thought this was an amazing story. Not really for the two firetrucks being called out for nothing. Twitter is grabbing our attention because of the behavioral potential we can get out of it. With the power of three tweets, Paul activated a whole community alert.

On Twitter, everything you say is tracked, read and repeated. This shows how Twitter is successfully building a crowdsourcing intelligence that can detect threats and react to it. Also, I can’t help but compare Twitter’s community approach to detect threats and Google algorithmic approach to detect threats. The two companies are very holistic in their approach of the Web, and we are starting to see a few signs that indicate future competition in some areas between the two parties.

Thank you Paul for sharing this story.