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Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Following conference hashtag tweets in real time and saving them for later


UPDATE 7 July 2011: Google Realtime is no longer with us. Initially it seemed to be temporarily offline while under-bonnet tinkering happened and it was assumed it would be hooked up with Google+ however it now seems that Google is no longer accessing Twitter's stream as the deal ended on 2 July 2011. This isn't great.

Also, see the more up to date post linked in the column on the right hand side, about a list of Twitter tools.


All the fashionable conferences or events have a hashtag. This turns a mere word into a clickable link which takes you to a 'channel' of tweets all talking about the same thing.

There are lots of ways of following these tweeted hashtags, in real time, and you can also save all the tweets for later. Here are some ways of doing this.

Example hashtag is #scio10 which stands for Science Online 2010.

EDIT: 7 November 2010 - for further investigation: "Tweetdoc" as suggested by @AISSMa
- it seems to create a rather useful and straightforward PDF for you, which is a plus.

1. Twitter itself - type in #scio10 or scio10 and sit back and watch. You might have to press 'refresh' every now and again (I think this depends on your browser) but it's pretty good.
Realtime? Yes
Archive? Not long-term.
Keeps picture of who is tweeting linked to their tweet? Yes

2. FriendFeed
The official conference FriendFeed room is which incorporates hashtag mentions and official comment from the dedicated twitter feed @scio10

My only bleat is that FriendFeed tends to lose the details of who said what, something that some of the other services seem to be able to keep (see this pic which gives an example

For just the tweets containing the hashtag though, use this link

FriendFeed does two things - it lets you read Twitter feeds, but it also lets you comment on them and write directly to FF.

See also - Cunning use of FriendFeed - find old tweets, yours or others - for more on why I really like certain features of FriendFeed.
Realtime? Yes, freakishly good - see for terrifying proof.
Archive? Excellent, persists for a long time.
Keeps picture? Not for generic feed into room, yes for individual (if on FriendFeed).

3. wthashtag - What the Hashtag
Any topic that's trending will show up automatically in wthashtag. If a topic isn't trending, then the wthashtag needs to be set up manually, for which you need a (free) account. The advantage of this is not so much the real time view of tweets (I can't remember how good this is) but the ability to generate a transcript of the last day's tweets.
Realtime? I think so, yes
Archive? Yes, but limited and not permanent
Keeps pictures? Yes

4. Twapperkeeper
#scio10 Twapperkeeper feed
No account needed to set up a twapperkeeper, although account required if you want to do more with it I think. It's a while since I've used it but I was very impressed. You can even set up a filter so that the hashtag plus another word will filter into a particular folder - this might be useful where you have several sessions running concurrently.

For example, during the recent #scidebate (debate between Ben Goldacre and Paul Drayson) I toyed with splitting examples of good science reporting from bad by using !g and !b in addition to #scidebate. Technically it worked perfectly (but it turned out that artificially splitting articles in this way was a bit of a palaver so we all quietly forgot about it) and you can see that the tweets are still there
Realtime? I think so, but honestly can't remember
Archive? Yes, awesome
Keeps pictures? Yes

Haven't investigated it yet but looks interesting. Hat tip @zeno001

5. Tweetdeck - iPhone app
Although I do have this somewhere on my laptop I only really use it as an app on my iPhone and so my experience of it is pretty much limited to that. This requires download whereas everything else here is web-based.

Tweetdeck lets you create a deck of tweets based on a hashtag, which you can watch in real time.
Realtime? Yes
Archive? Not that I'm aware of
Keeps pictures? Yes

6. Twitterfall
Very good, although a little bit fiddly. Type in your hashtag and it does the rest.
Realtime? Yes
Archive? Not that I'm aware of
Keeps pictures? Yes

7. Monitter
Very similar to Twitterfall, but with three 'decks'.

Realtime? Yes
Archive? Not that I'm aware of
Keeps pictures? Yes

I've watched or saved a lot of conference tweets in the time I've been on Twitter and have used Tweetdeck to interact when there, Twitterfall if watching elsewhere, FriendFeed for an augmented experience, Twitter itself as a back channel (and FriendFeed) and both wthashtag and Twapperkeeper to save it all for later. I think Twitterfall is used quite successfully by events folks to show the tweets live on screen.

These are just the ones I've used or heard of. Doubtless there are others...

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