Her Majesty’s news – on twitter.

Of all the social media tools I use, twitter is my favourite (well, it is this week).

One of the reasons I started blogging today, a bit in advance of when I wanted to, was some activity on twitter and in some blogs by some colleagues.

A lot of my time is spent on twitter and I thought it would be useful if I could quickly scan bits and pieces of info released by government. So, with a bit of playing around, I pulled together an aggregated twitter feed for Her Majesty’s Government News. I’ve done my best to capture RSS feeds from as many .gov.uk websites as possible. The volume of news produced by the government can vary and it might not be right for everyone – but it works for me.

This isn’t exactly a new idea. There are a range of twitter streams that aggregate RSS feeds and there have been some practical demonstrations and a lot of thinking on how twitter and other social media can extend the reach of communications used in emergency situations.

I expect to have similar feeds up for UK government consultations; I was going to do one for local government, but Mr Briggs beat me to the line on that one.

I have also developed an aggregated twitter feed for travel advice that pulls in alerts from the US and Australia – it’s still a little clunky, so don’t rely on it if you are about to go to Tibet.

If I have missed your feed let me know: hmgovnews[at]google[dot]mail[dot]com


10 responses to “Her Majesty’s news – on twitter.

  1. Justin, this will be interesting to watch. I wonder if you could update us on stats and usage, would be really useful to be able to point to something like your blog when proving benefits.

    Brilliant stuff

  2. Good work that man. I was writing about this only the other day – didn’t think of Twittering it though. Great stuff!

    As Em says, will be interesting to see how many followers you end up getting. Twitter produces an RSS feed, of course, so some people might be interested in that. Going on from that, pipe the RSS into a Feedburner updates-by-email thingy and people can have news into their inbox if they want it.

  3. Great idea!

    My only fear is that government communicators may not be capable of writing headlines succinct enough to convey a message in 140 characters.


  4. Nice piece of work, Justin. I guess you’re pulling a collection of RSS feeds from various websites together, presumably via Yahoo Pipes or Google Reader (I recommend the latter approach, by the way), then driving it through Twitterfeed? It’s entirely dependent on departments providing RSS feeds, of course… and sadly, they’re still in the minority.

    So for completeness, it might be worth looking at TheGovernmentSays.com/sources – they do a classic MySociety screenscraping job for many of the departments and agencies which aren’t yet hip to the RSS thing. You don’t ideally want to rely on a third-party service, but needs must etc.

    As I’ve commented on Dave and Emma’s blogs, but never actually written up myself (doh!), I’m increasingly convinced that Twitter should be part of major websites’ future alerting strategies. This is a great proof of that concept.

    But the starting point is more departments providing RSS. I feel like I’ve been banging that particular drum for years. And yet the best results have been when I’ve managed to sneak it in via the back door.

  5. Justin, you have the greats here commenting: Simon D and Briggsy (I’ll take the cash in twiglets, chaps) – I know you have only just started, but can you run an update here on the success of this? Would be so useful

  6. All,

    Thanks for your comments.

    @Mulqueeny – will do, thought I might let press offices kick off the news cycle again this week and then provide an update

    @SimonD – thanks for the link. I scraped a coupld of the feeds myself – but that will save a lot of time! RE: adoption of RSS – watch this space.

    @Colin McKay – Good point. Hopefully this will act as an incentive!

    @Dave Briggs – Will do!

  7. Justin – I’d be interested in knowing how you personally interact with Twitter — computer? phone? and how has that shaped your behavior?

    Have you checked out FriendFeed?


    ps – thanks for adding me to your “People I Read” list!

  8. Nicely done.

    You might be interested to know that there are seven ATOM feeds for new legislation, updated as and when it is published, linking to the official version of each Act or SI on the OPSI website.

  9. Pingback: Her Majesty’s news on twitter - an update « extended reach

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