Saturday, August 27, 2011

Following weather events with a Twitter list

Hurricane Irene Captured August 26, 2011
Hurricane Irene, August 26, 2011
by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
I've been curating a list on Twitter for weather events for some time, but it just occurred to me today that I should make it public (I usually make my lists private by default) and let others know it's there. It's been great for following the progress of Hurricane Irene without having to be glued to the TV (or even the computer, since I can check the list using my smartphone).

The list is by no means exhaustive and it's constantly growing. I've tried to throw in nationally known meteorologists (from the networks, for example), some government agencies, and some storm chasers. I add more as I come across accounts which are relevant.

The few locally-based accounts I included are mostly focused on eastern Nebraska. This is really all the list was when I began, but I started adding accounts with broader coverage after the tornado in Joplin, MO this summer.

I've also added some earthquake-related accounts. I didn't feel like making a separate list when I only had a couple accounts for those and there's quite a bit of overlap in reportage. (On a side note, did you know that you can Google "earthquake" and Google will put a list of the most recent earthquakes at the top of the search results? It's handy.)

The great thing about Twitter lists is that you don't have to be following the accounts you put in there, so if you don't want a lot of extra noise in your main Twitter stream, but you want to be able to check on what's going on with a certain subject, you can throw the relevant accounts in a list and then check it from time to time. You also don't have to have a Twitter account at all to view the list, just follow the link.

Announcing: Mary's Ramble Annex

I've been a bit frustrated lately. I've had this mental argument with myself going on for some time about what to do with links I want to share, but don't necessarily want to write an entire post about. I sometimes share those on Twitter, sometimes on Facebook, sometimes I just hit "Share" in Google Reader which puts them on a public page at my Google Profile, as well as posting them to Google Buzz (where I never seem to go anymore, sadly) and the list of those ends up on the "Recently Read" page here (which will probably go away soon). None of these options are very satisfying, though. I'm basically just handing the links off to someone else to handle. They are shared in someone else's format, difficult-to-impossible to edit, and difficult to find again later. 

I've often thought about just sharing the links on Mary's Ramble, but there are nights I want to share EVERYTHING I see, and I really don't want to fill up someone's RSS feed, Twitter stream, or Facebook wall with a ton of trivial stuff. That's not what I feel like people have signed up for when they follow this blog. I'd like to keep MR, as much as possible, for the times when I have something of my own to share.

I've often thought about starting a Tumblr blog (or something from a similar service), but every time I almost set one up, I decided it really wasn't what I wanted. 

At last, I decided to create Mary's Ramble Annex. That way, if you're not interested in the five things I read when I couldn't sleep last night, you don't have to be annoyed by it in the feed from the main blog. But if you are interested, you can click through once in awhile, or subscribe, or whatever, knowing that it's likely to be high-volume and low-commentary.

We'll see how it works, or if it works.