How to display approximately geo-located Tweets on a map

Most geo mashups such as GeoMeme display Tweets and other geo-located content as points on a map, based on exact latitude/longitude coordinates. Easy.

At the inaugural Chirp Conference this week, Twitter released its Places feature which instead allows Tweets to be approximately geo-located, within a ‘Place’ of chosen granularity; a city, or a neighborhood, perhaps a restaurant or a park.

This is a great option for users who have ‘geo-privacy’ concerns about revealing an exact latitude/longitude.

However, this approach presents a challenge to developers on the Twitter platform: how can approximately-located Tweets be displayed on a map?

Moreover, users need app developers to adopt a standard way of showing these approximately-located Tweets on a map. A consistent approach by developers will help users form a consistent understanding of this Twitter feature, in a similar way that @anywhere Hovercards provide a consistent approach to showing data about a particular Twitter user.

polytweet is a javascript library which displays approximately-located Tweets on a Google Map.

I hacked it together at Chirp, because I will need something like this for GeoMeme, and also to share it with other developers and encourage a standard approach.

Exactly-located tweets are represented by a profile image atop a blue pin.

Approximately-located tweets are represented by a semi-transparent profile image, placed along one of the edges of the Place polygon, at a consistent position so that zooming in and out does not shuffle the tweets.

Here’s an example, with thanks to the Twitter API team for sharing their geo-location. The tweet on the left hand side from @raffi is approximately located:

Hovering over a marker will trigger the display of any corresponding Place as a semi-transparent polygon. Hence the user can understand the area from which an approximately-located tweet was posted:

You can see the working demo at which includes an added bonus of Hovercards.

See the source code for usage instructions and details of how to tweak the style of the markers and polygons.


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  • Anonymous

    I need something like this to GeoMeme, and also to share with other developers and to promote a standard approach.



    Geo location is a great stats tool for assessing social
    sciences, love these applications thanks nice article