Want to find out what people in your neighborhood are buzzing about — at least on Twitter?
One way of finding out — at least for those living in King County — is through Whooly, Microsoft’s just-launched research project, an experimental, mobile-friendly website that displays neighborhood-specific Tweets.
After signing into your Twitter account from www.whooly.net, you choose the city, then the neighborhood you’re interested in. You can then view tweets, people associated with the neighborhood, events mentioned in tweets, or by the most commonly occurring key words.
The tweets are surfaced using both keywords (for example “Ballard”) and location data.
The project comes from Microsoft Research’s FUSE Labs, which focuses on social experiences. The Whooly researchers say that, with this project, they’re studying social media interactions and the impact of Twitter on neighborhoods, focusing particularly on Capitol Hill, South Lake Union, Wallingford and West Seattle.
(There are some neighborhoods, such as Chinatown-International District, where tweets are sparse. So that particular neighborhood’s tweets are being shown in the Downtown neighborhood grouping.)
In particular, the project has two goals, said researcher Andres Monroy Hernandez.
One is to better understand design guidelines for these kinds of systems in order to, for example, help designers build better neighborhood websites.
The other goal is to see whether something like Whooly helps increase people’s sense of belonging and thus their sense of wellbeing.
FUSE Labs researchers have interviewed some local people already — primarily neighborhood bloggers — about their sense of wellbeing. They will ask them similar questions after those people have had a chance to use Whooly more extensively, Hernandez said.
In addition, the researchers are interested in seeing if these neighborhood people’s interactions on Twitter change after using Whooly for a while.