Monday, August 24, 2009

Vote with Twitter

This is a follow up to my What do you think? post. I had loads of good suggestions from people, with many pointing out that Poll Everywhere can accepts votes sent via Twitter.

polling station
Originally uploaded by secretlondon123
I really like Poll Everywhere and have used it with small sections. The free account for 30 responses is perfect for an average class size. However, I am not sure I'll be able to get funding to use it in lectures with hundreds of students... which is a pity. I was pleased to note though that someone from Poll Everywhere noticed my Tweets and encouraged me to get back to them to talk about costs.

In the meantime, I thought that using unique hashtag on Twitter and counting responses would be a quick and dirty solution that might be good enough for on the fly straw polls. A couple of people suggested possible lines to pursue that didn't involve a full blown programming project involving Twitter's API, so I had a go... with minimal success.

First off the blocks was Stuart Meldrum who suggested pulling the RSS feed from a Twitter Search into a Google Docs spreadsheet. I got so far but couldn't work out how to pull in all the search results. I've published a copy, called Public TwitGraph, which hopefully you can look at. If anyone can tell me what's going wrong, I'd be very grateful.

Next suggestion I tried to follow was from Martin Hawksey who suggested using Yahoo Pipes. Again, I had a go and got as far as adapting someone else's pipe to produce a list of numbers that I thought I might be able to pull into Google Docs to add them up and draw a graph. However, I couldn't get the RSS feed from the Pipe into Google's spreadsheet. Curses! Thankfully, Martin is more skilled with Pipes and has managed to use a hashtag to draw a graph. Brilliant! Stunningly brilliant even!

I can't quite see how he's done it, and I'll need to play with it for a while to see if it scales up, but it looks very promising.

What I really like about all these solutions (or in my case, not quite working solutions) is that they are based on stuff that other people created... stuff that they willingly shared with the Internet community. Yet more proof, if proof is needed, of the value of personal learning networks, Web 2.0 technology, blogs and (last but by no means least) Twitter.

I'm off now to tile a bathroom... but tomorrow, I'll be playing with Pipes. :-)

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