Nate Ritter’s Twit-o-gram

I went to a meetup sponsored by Netsquared and saw Nate Ritter talk about how he was able to fill in during the power outages during the San Diego fires and keep us all informed on what was going on. Part of his amazing story is how on the first day he worked for over 12 hours with only one 15 minute bathroom break.

Nate’s story was covered by Wired and highlights that he quickly ran into a limitation of the Twitter API which would crash if he posted more than 70 posts/hour (he eventually moved to posting directly into

Other interesting tidbits include the fact that for some residents, he was the only game in town because power was done in most of the area (with other townships borrowing power from Tijuana to the south). In times of crisis, SMS messaging rules.

The graphic posted above is from his talk, which he outlines on his blog. It’s a very basic setup where you drop a few feeds in on one end, usually filtered to sort on specific topics relating to your crisis at hand, and then Rube Goldberg-like, mush it all together using and then pump that RSS out to which will take any RSS feed and turn it into twitter posts. This is Nate’s basic setup which he’s re-purposed several times for other situations, most recently the floods in Northern California.

The setup described above doesn’t take more than an hour to get up and running.  Looking at it really gets the gears turning. What kind of twitter feed would you setup at the wheels of something like this?

I can think of a few services to add to improve it.

  • Yahoo Pipes for greater filtering
  • twitter’s “track” function to track mentions by keyword
  • Dave Winer’s twittergram to allow people to phone in updates from the field

Can you think of any others?