March 25, 2009

Twiphlo: Making geolocation small & beautiful

Stowe BoydStowe Boyd, a longtime fixture in the tech and social media worlds, is joining as a contributor and collaborating strategist. The following originally appeared in his blog /Message.

Geolocation tools fall into two broad categories:

  • Predictive location, generally oriented toward arranging to meet with other people when traveling to other places (like Dopplr and TripIt), or in your own town (like Mixin)
  • Location streaming, generally oriented to keeping others informed of location (like Google Latitude, DodgeBall, Plazes, or Brightkite), either for arranging meetings, or to maintain a geolocational lifestream.

I have used tools in both categories, and written about my experiences with them.

twiphloMost recently, I have been using Dopplr for predictive purposes, and Brightkite for location streaming. But in recent weeks, I have found that Brightkite is too rich an experience, overlapping too much with what I am doing with other tools, particularly Twitter as my primary lifestream, and the various blogs I maintain on Tumblr. Perhaps it is also that I don’t have a deep sense of community on Brightkite.

One thing in particular annoys me about Brightkite, and that is the Twitter integration. While they have provided a sophisticated template-based approach to posting tweets based on Brightkite location updates, the tool to support updating Twitter location in the user profile is just broken. When I post ‘542 Brannan St, San Francisco CA 94107’ the Twitter location gets set to ‘542 Brannan St’ dropping the city, state, and zip code.

I was quite happy to stumble upon a small but beautiful location streaming tool the other day, called Twiphlo. It seems like the main window is designed for a mobile interface use, like iPhone. The basic idea is that you can post something, while at the same time updating your Twitter profile location.

Note that the creator of the app, Ben Clemens, added a new feature when I asked: the ‘post location tweet only’ checkbox. If you check the box and enter a location, the app will send a tweet like ‘#location 156 South Park, San Francisco CA’ while also updating the profile location.

Clicking on the ‘my map’ brings up a map, with Twiphlo tweets superimposed, and the stream of tweets displayed in order at the bottom.


Stowe Boyd is an internationally recognized authority on social tools and their impact on media, business and society. Contact Stowe or leave a comment below.

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