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Platypus Innovation Blog

10 February 2014

Geocoding Twitter: Who cares about New Zealand?

Geo-coding is where you take descriptions of a place -- such as the location people give out on Twitter -- and work out where on Earth it actually is.

Geo-coding is not an exact science. E.g. "Cambridge" could refer to a city in the UK, or one next to Boston in the USA (and oddly, both cities are home to world-class universities). And that's the easy stuff. Twitter locations can be... interesting -- such as "wherever there is dancing", or "city of purple".

So geocoding software can be forgiven for making occasional mistakes & odd choices. Here are some we've found:

Heaven is in Iran, but Paradise is in the USA.
Iran also counts as far far away.
Reality is in India
Gun Shaped State is Oman, as is Somewhere Yu Aint! (I suppose there's a kind of logic here-- for most of us, Oman is somewhere we aren't).
Wonderful Island is Taiwan...
...but Whore Island is somewhat cruelly identifed as Iceland
Atop of a Whovian Bum is in Azerbaijan

My favourite malapropism:
Who cares? and Who knows? mean you're in New Zealand

NB: We currently use a mix of Google, Yahoo & Twitter geocoders (each of which has it's own strengths and weaknesses). The examples above come from one of those three. It's usually Google -- who have the largest most varied coverage -- for the random. We are developing our own in-house geocoder based on Open Street Map data.

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