Brightkite & Twitter (it’s not chocolate & peanut butter)

The other day Jeff Pabian (local blogger and friend), sent me an invite to Brightkite. Ironically he also posted a review of Brightkite on his blog. Hes’s done a great job explaining what Brighkite does and the potential value. I for one haven’t experienced the local connection he describes. I either don’t have enough friends or the demographics of my rural suburbs don’t line up. As a Twitter user, I was thrilled to see Brightkite’s integration. That is, until I used it.

Brightkite is location based social networking tool. It allows you to “check in” to a location/address, post a comment or photo (tied to that location), and connect with others nearby. If you enable Twitter integration each event is automatically posted to Twitter. Example:

Brightkite: check in @ work
Twitter: I’m at 101 Marietta St NW, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA (101 Marietta St Nw, Atlanta, GA, 30303, US) –

Ok, I gotta admit the Google maps is kinda cool. But what’s with listing the address twice? Honestly is the address relevant to anyone who may be reading my Twitter? In my example above I used a “Placemark” (bookmark) called “work”. My Twitter post should simply be “I’m at work <map link>.” If I check in to another address without a placemark, it should just show “I’m at city/state + map link.” I’ve heard a few grumbles from my twittpeeps about the uselessness of the check in data in Twitter, and formated the way it is, I tend to agree. 

In addition to improving the check in details, Brightkite should allow you to combine a message with a location. Such as “@work looking for lunch.” This can help cut down on the Twittlitter.

For the record you can achieve an abbreviated post (city/state) if you raise your privacy preferences. But then you lose the ability to show everyone your specific location and this doesn’t address the lack of placemark integration with Twitter.  

OK, enough of the shortcomings, let’s talk about a useful Brightkite/Twitter feature, Photo uploads.  With my registration came a private email address to send photos. Emailed pictures are placed in my Brightkite profile, as well as post to my Twitter stream. The subject line of the email becomes the Twitter message. The message text and link are separated with a hyphen. The other day I attempted to photo stream my commute home and subsequent trip to the store. You can see the log in my Brightkite profile. In addition this made for mildly entertaining Twitter story that looked like this:

  • Driving home – CNN – - Photo:
  • I’m at Douglasville, GA 30134, USA (Douglasville, GA, 30134, US) –
  • Driving – Mall – Photo:
  • Truck almost ran me off rd. – Photo:
  • I’m at Villa Rica, GA 30180, USA (Villa Rica, GA, 30180, US) –
  • Getting off highway. Sunset. – Photo:
  • My ‘hood – Photo:
  • Home now. Hope u enjoyed my ride. – Photo:
  • Back on the rd. again need dinner & groceries.
  • Guess what took this pic? – Photo:
  • Here now – Photo:
  • My sub under construction – Photo:
  • Publix makes the best subs in my town – Photo:
  • My BP is a little high. Stress. – Photo:

I also love the Find Your Friends feature. Simply input your Twitter account and it searches the account for friends. 

Other notes about Brightkite:

Obvioulsy the Google maps integration is key for location based social networking. See: My past locations on Google Maps, My friends on Google Maps, they should do the same for the photos.

For you iPhone users and anyone who may prefer email over SMS… It’s not obviously documented but you can update Brightkite via email. Just use the same private address assigned for photo uploads. Put your SMS commands into the subject line. This is handy for me, as I do not have unlimited SMS but do have unlimited internet/email.

I think the future looks bright for Brightkite, and I’m looking forward to seeing integration with triangulation and GPS.  I also understand they are developing a native iPhone application too. 

Right now Brightkite is an invitation only Beta. If you would like an invite, leave a comment on this page. I have a few available. 

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2 thoughts on “Brightkite & Twitter (it’s not chocolate & peanut butter)

  1. Hey Mike,

    Thanks for the mention. The one thing I lack right now is the ability to upload photos but that might be changing soon. I agree, it would be nice to have a way to update a location with a message, “In ur office, eetin’ cheez” or something. Or what about checking in, and asking for people to meet up with you?

    Additionally, I noticed that Brightkite has a very similar stream to Twitter’s public feed. I’m not sure if I just hadn’t noticed it or it is something new, but it’s kind cool.

    You know what else I think would be useful, is some way to search for other BK users by zip or city name. Unless I am missing it, I think you can only search your Twitter followers.

    I would also like some way to search to find more users nearby. I was floored to see how many friend Chris Brogan has, and can only imagine what his map looks like. I’ve found other people on Twitterto follow by using and subscribing to the RSS feed. It’s also very cool. Maybe something similar can be done if BK releases an API.


  2. Honestly I think the holy grail with Brightkite will be local ads. Imagine checking in at CNN center or Colony Square (Atlanta fast food malls) and asking for “lunch?” Local providers could offer up specials and discounts. Or checking into the shopping mall and having your favorite mens clothing store send you a special offer.

    Obviously you don’t want ads to get out of hand, but done correctly and with “opt in” it could be huge and useful.

    Thanks for the tip, was mildly useful out here in the boonies.