TweetingMeeting: Big-screen Twitter

So Michelle’s company is organising a conference, and she wants them to make Twitter a part of it somehow, since so much interesting comment about the goings-on at a conference happens there. We were discussing how best to do this. The best, simplest thing I’ve seen is a big screen where tweets related to the conference are displayed publicly. It keeps passersby in the loop. Tweets from people inside sessions can steer those outside to the best ones (“Julie’s talk on microwave popcorn is awesome! Tough questions coming though”). And when tweeters see their tweets really are public, they may be more constructive tweeters.

So TweetingMeeting is a site that makes it really, really easy to put up a big screen of fresh tweets about your conference. Open the site on a public screen, type in a keyword (e.g. a hashtag or the name of the conference), and hit enter. It’s designed to be readable, clean, modern, elegant (the usual stuff, that is), so it should fit into almost any conference decor, where that matters.

This is a tough one to monetise. I’ve got a link to some Google ads, which will probably relate to conference organising in your area. (Ideally, they should reflect the content of the current tweet stream, but I don’t think Google uses that to identify suitable ads.) We’ll see how it goes.

Tools used: For the first time on 52sites, I didn’t use WordPress. This site is one page of hand-coded HTML, PHP and Javascript, a couple of CSS files, and a few images and fonts. My HTML and CSS are okay, but I had to spend a good two (weekend) days muddling my way up the PHP and Javascript learning curves. Just the foothills. The great thing was that I found several tutorials and example code snippets online from generous coders, so I really just had to figure out how to fit them together. Lots of trial and error, but super-satisfying in the end. I’m sure the site is full of horrible tech-newbie mistakes, but it does work, and it looks okay. I used the GIMP to create the images, and the site uses an open-licenced font from Typerdermic Fonts called Negotiate, which I found on Font Squirrel. I built the whole thing on my home computer before uploading to my web host. To run a webserver on my old Windows machine for this, I used the fabulous XAMMP. I did have to search for help on enabling cURL in my PHP settings, but this took five minutes max. This stuff may sound scary if, like me, you’re not a developer, but if you’re deliberate and happy to read a lot (Wikipedia, and any friendly-sounding blog or forum you can find on the issue), it all comes together.

Process: Many hours getting the basic Twitter search and page refresh working; then more hours working on the design (CSS and HTML). Only once I was sure it worked and looked okay did I register the domain, and upload the files to my web host. Total time, probably about 12–15 hours spread over three days.

3 thoughts on “TweetingMeeting: Big-screen Twitter

  1. Great idea! This is a tool I have been looking at to use at my company and wasn’t sure where to find a tool or how to implement such a thing. Saw your comment on an article.
    Thanks! Please keep it up and running !

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