TwinCitiesTwitter keeps it local

Finding local Twitter tweeps with something useful to say can be a challenge, especially if you're new to the service. You can try hunting down hash tags (#minneapolis, etc.) but what you find under those tags is entirely dependent on who adds the tags to their posts; it's unreliable.

Now comes TwinCitiesTwitter. The brainchild of Michael Fraase and Dave Winer, it aggregates the tweets of anyone who asks that their feed be put on the list; every time you tweet, your 140 characters show up on the site.

Information design specialist Fraase, the author more than 20 books about the Internet, and who was once the online managing editor at Utne Reader, is now senior editor for the the University of Minnesota's College of Design. He's also the author of numerous books on computing and the Internet. 

Winer, a fellow at Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, has been described by the New York Times as "the protoblogger," is a guy who appears to have had a hand in developing a whole array of early weblogs, syndication feeds and content management software.

Ever wondered what it would look like if you subscribed to the 100 most popular people on Twitter? Winer shows you here.  He  also created an aggregator that follows the 40 or more Twitter fiends at The New York Times.

"One of Winer's recent projects that interested me was a Twitter aggregator for Berkeley," Frase told me in an e-mail. "He was thinking out loud about applying for a Knight grant to more fully develop it and asked for feedback. I replied that I thought it was a great idea and that I'd like to see a similar aggregator for the Twin Cities. He asked if I'd like to collaborate on it and three hours later it was up and running."

Want to be heard locally? All you have to do to join is send a Twitter @reply message to @mfraase requesting to be added to the list.

This aggregation of local Twitterers is valuable not just to its users, but to outsiders looking in (politicians, advertisers, marketers). I asked Fraase what, if any plans he has for the future of his aggregation project.

"No plans," he said. "But I'd be surprised if Winer wasn't open to suggestions. You have to remember this was a three-hour skunkworks project on the Sunday before Labor Day. With apologies to Van Morrison, and speaking only for myself, no business plan, no method, only madness."