Crystal Balls

I’ve seen the term “alpha geeks” used a bit more lately.  These are the folks that create the software and the platforms we use.  To be clear, being the first in your market to use Twitter does not make you an alpha geek, those folks write code.

There have been some interesting discussions and developments with regard to Twitter and data distribution lately.  Last night on WeatherBrains we learned that Daryl Herzmann’s IEMbot has been locked out of Twitter for 6 days. Daryl is pleading with Twitter to give him some idea of what is going on, so far silence.

WeatherBrains listeners will remember that James Spann was recently locked out of Facebook just ahead of a severe weather event.  It took a note from This Week in Google’s Jeff Jarvis to Facebook to get a response.  The answer, “It was a mistake.”  The next day a second reply said the people who would have answered the question of why the account was disabled were out of the office when the question was first asked.  So, when they actually replied, the answer was, “It was a mistake.”

This post from Matthew Ingram is worth reading.  It is an interview with a developer who lost a $15,000 a month business when Twitter “killed it cold.”

So, what is next?  The alpha geeks seem to be frustrated with Twitter and are looking toward something called “personal news feeds”.  Pay attention, these folks will build the infrastructure, not just sit back and wait for something better to come along.  Dave Winer invented RSS and has developed a “tabbed river”. is being billed as a Twitter competitor and the alpha geeks are taking interest.  Terry Heaton’s latest essay looks at advertising in the personal news feed.  If you read only one of the links in this post, read Terry and ask yourself how well you’ve monetized your social media efforts.

I have long suspected that one of the reasons local television meteorologists embraced social media was because of a vacuum created by the lack of ways to distribute digital content.  Station websites were quickly automated, and we, wanting to communicate, and being geeks ourselves, needed an outlet.

It is time for an evolution.  I’ve gotten to know some alpha geeks in the weather space and am looking to build the next generation of digital weather distribution.  We’ve started the process and would like to have your input.  One of my mentors, Dan Satterfield, once told me, “Meteorologists do it with crystal balls.” (rimshot)  Our job is to predict the future, and the best way to predict the future is to create it.  I’d love to hear from you.


About Kevin Selle

Chief Meteorologist, KFDX-TV. Co-host, WeatherBrains.
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9 Responses to Crystal Balls

  1. Jake Reed says:

    The IEMBot from NWS JAN has been suspended for several days now as well…

  2. Sorry about my troubles with iembot on twitter. I made three communication attempts today with twitter and didn’t hear anything. If I am counting right, this has happened to me 5 times now since I launched this in April 2009. I was able to get the bot whitelisted back then somehow, so I have never hit API usage limits. Their auto-suspender gets me though and they won’t whitelist the bots there. The bots tho are hidden from hash tag searches though, which is kind of poor.

    • Kevin Selle says:

      You made for some great conversation, Daryl! Keep up the good work! 🙂

    • timbrice17 says:

      I hope you’re able to get Twitter to get their act together. I think the iembots provide an invaluable service. They allow warnings and advisories to quickly get out on the web, but they also free up the NWS office accounts so they can be, well you know, more socialable. It is called social media for a reason, right?

  3. Kevin, I’m going to be making a move with two projects over the next couple of months. Very excited to see if there is a sustainable model for local meteorologists in the online space yet. Thankful that I have the freedom to do this while still working in the traditional TV model.

  4. Pingback: The TV Stations Are Next | Digital Meteorologist

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