Dave Winer is media-hacking* Twitter and coming up with some fun, trivial stuff that one day we’ll all realize was serious, important stuff. For example, he just posted an announcement that one can subscribe to an RSS feed of any account on TwitterGram, something he developed using the Twitter API that provides a means to post brief audio messages that are automatically linked to and announced via ones Twitter account. (Here’s my feed: http://mp3.twittergram.com/rexhammock/rss.xml) In other words, TwitterGram has evolved into a podcasting platform for 20-second messages. You can subscribe to the feeds via iTunes or any other way you get podcasting feeds.
This may sound trivial, but, think about such a service in the context of an emergency like Virginia Tech. In five minutes, from start to finish, using Twitter and Twittergram, one can set up an emergency broadcasting system that sends out text-message alerts and audio-alerts via RSS. With a little bit of preparation and planning, the channel can be set up in advance, allowing hundreds, even thousands, to subscribe to the Twitter feed (available via SMS, IM or Web) or, now, podcast feed.
Perhaps, such a platform can become another distribution channel of the Emergency Alert System? I think others are working on SMS and email distribution of such alerts, but Twitter — and, at least conceptually, now iTunes and any other podcasting platform — can, via TwitterGram or a similar service, be a distribution channel for such alerts.
It’s day one of this Twitter-alerted mini-podcast hack, however, I have a prediction: Within one year, we’ll hear of TwitterGram being used in a serious, live-threatening emergency. (I’m sure Twitter already has been used in such a way.) Another prediction you can take to the bank: When others realize what’s going on — not the goofy stuff now being Twittergram’d, but the soon-to-be obvious ways it can be used that no one has yet considered — the idea of using Twitter to automagically announce mini-podcast messages will have lots of people claiming they created it years ago.
Side observation: Dave seems to be in the spirit of burying the hatchet these days, so I apologize for that lame swipe at some of his detractors.
*Dave, in many places, describes himself as “a media hacker.” I’ve decided that’s my profession, as well.