Microsoft researchers launch new hyper-local project with a Twitter connection

Researchers at Microsoft's FuSE Labs have launched a second project that investigates the intersection of hyper-local content and civic engagement.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft's FuSE Labs is adding a second research project to its roster that focuses on how hyper-local content can spur civic engagement.


On March 10, FuSE (Future Social Experiences) Labs took the wraps off its latest initiative, known as HereHere NYC. The site allows more than 40 New York City neighborhoods to generate opinions based on New York City's 311 non-emergency data stream. New York's 311 allows New Yorkers to voice concerns (and sometimes compliments) via phone, email or text messages. HereHere distills the information andgenerates cartoons and text that represent a "neighborhood’s characterized reactions," officials said.

Those interested can receive this stream of information by daily email digests, Twitter feeds and/or status updates on an online map.

Microsoft researchers demonstrated HereHere internally during the company's annual TechFest research fair in Redmond, Wash., last week. TechFest, Microsoft's science fair for its own research projects, was not open to the press this year, as it has been recently.

HereHere is FuSE's second research foray into the intersection of hyper-local content and civic engagement.

Last year, FuSE researchers went public with information about Whoo.ly, a Web service that provides neighborhood-specific information based on hyper-local Twitter posts. Results from that service are visible at Whooly.net. A Microsoft spokesperson said the Whoo.ly project was unrelated to HereHere, despite the similarities between the two.

Speaking of Twitter and Microsoft Research, it looks like Microsoft ended up publicizing the results of the Twitter hashtag research in which it was engaged last year. The FuSE Labs team was investigating how people find answers on Twitter last year, using a bot known as AskyBot. The results of that research are available in this white paper, entitled "Is Anyone Out There? Unpacking Q&A Hashtags on Twitter."

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