When Damon Cortesi announced the Rowfeeder application a while back, my interest was piqued. I’d been meaning to try out a One Forty application and Rowfeeder looked like something I could make good use of.
OneForty is a directory of twitter applications that allows developers to receive donations or charge for their hard work - kind of like Apple’s App Store for the iPhone.
Rowfeeder is an app that will dump the results of a twitter search into a Google Spreadsheet over a period of 48 hours. It provides a bit more information than the standard Twitter Search API as it includes the number of friends and followers for each tweeter. It would pretty straightforward to hack together a script that does this but since it only costs USD $2.49, I would say that writing your own is a waste of time.
The OneForty Experience
I signed up to oneforty.com and immediately purchased a search for wine as I know there are a good many wine drinkers and wineries that use twitter on a regular basis.
As usual, I created a new email address for the sign up, as I like to track where spam comes from and who sells their email lists. This turned out to be a mistake as the Google Spreadsheet was being shared with this new address, so I quickly created a new Google Account for it.
Payment was painless, with Paypal being used to collect your money.
Rowfeeder started working almost immediately and I could watch the spreadsheet being populated as it was working. After the forty-eight hours were up, I had about 41,000 rows in the document.
As advertised, I had a spreadsheet with a couple of days worth of tweets mentioning the word "wine". One issue is that the timestamp of each tweet does not contain a timezone indicator (I hate that) but @dacort told me that they are PST. I exported the Google spreadsheet to a CSV file and used it to test a term extractor that I have been working on.
It turned out that my massive investment of $2.49 was well worth it - the data showed up a couple of nasty bugs in my code. With the bugs fixed, I can add another unit test to my suite.
There is some bad news which has nothing to do with Rowfeeder - a lot of twitter is just crap. Those of us with carefully curated streams of interesting people will be surprised at the gibberish that people tweet.
Any developers hoping to leverage the firehose to extract anything meaningful are going to need to build some kind of idiot filter.
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