It's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. This toilet in Toronto tweets about its daily activities. Managed by Hacklab.com, the toilet's colorful commentary has gained hacklabTOilet 793 followers. In a June 1, 2009, digression, the toilet introspectively questioned its popularity and tweeted, "why do I have so many followers?" Its next tweet? "flush flush flush." The toilet has been active online since May 2, 2009.
For those who want more functional information from their Twitter followership, LovellTelescope tweets its position and intended coordinates every few minutes as the telescope collects data about radio wave emissions from distant stars and galaxies. The Lovell Telescope is one of the largest in the world. Located in Cheshire, England, the telescope is part of the Jodrell Bank Observatory. The observatory operates M.E.R.L.I.N., the Multi-Element Radio Linked Interferometer Network, which coordinates the usage of radio telescopes in England. Built in 1957 and equipped with a Twitter-feed only recently, LovellTelescope has 620 followers.
LawLibCongress (the Law Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.) tweets on everything -- from the availability of important texts to the status of wireless Internet in the reading rooms. This talkative library was established in 1832 by Congress and is part of the greater Library of Congress, a federal institution. According to its Web site, the library houses 2.65 million volumes focused on national and international jurisprudence and law. The Law Library focuses on preserving texts, securing international and comparative law texts and assists in legal research on behalf of state and national entities. The library currently has 929 followers.
The dead cannot tweet, but their cemetery can. Atlanta, Ga.’s Oakland Cemetery tweets about events within and around its grounds. The 48-acre Oakland Cemetery, where “Gone With the Wind” author Margaret Mitchell is buried, was purchased by town officials in 1850 as a burial ground but now is venue for many of Atlanta’s social events, like walking tours and concerts. The cemetery’s twitter account has become a hub to discuss city happenings. “Great weekend ideas. Get out there explore Atlanta! RT @insideaccess: Weekend to do list: February 19-21 http://bit.ly/cG0MIa,” tweeted the cemetery, encouraging Atlanta citizens to participate in Atlanta’s social life, not just in its afterlife. The Oakland Cemetery has 805 followers.
The Rambler is trying to stamp out microblogs, one step at a time. According to the shoe’s website, “Everyone that uses the microblog service notice the massive amount of useless information that is spread over there. This project intent to criticize this by posting literally every step you take in real life.” The Rambler has a sensor in its sole that detects when the wearer is walking. Through a series of digital-wifi exchanges, each “step” posted on Twitter. “. . tap . tap . . tap tap . . tap . tap tap . . tap . . tap . . tap . . . . . tap tap . . . . . . . . tap . tap . . . tap . . . tap . . tap,” With a few taps, the Rambler began tweeting on Jan. 9. It has 167 followers.
NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander’s tweets inform followers about the Martian surface. Of late, however, the Phoenix has lost contact with Earth during the harsh Martian winter, according to NASA. NASA’s Twitter account, NASAJPL, posted, “Listening campaign for @MarsPhoenix is over for now, w/ no signal detected. Odyssey will listen again in Feb & March.” The Phoenix was sent to Mars to study the role of water in the planet’s history. In November 2009, it tweeted from the northern-most reaches of the planet. “Brrr! Postcards from Mars show a frosty Phoenix on the north polar plains during Martian winter *waves*,” the hearty lander tweeted. The Phoenix has 50,096 followers.
Plants interact with the world around them, but only recently have plants begun to politely ask for a watering, complain of overwatering, or thank a person for a satisfactory libation. With the aid of this wifi-equiped moisture sensor developed by Botanicalls, plants alert owners when their potted pals need some attention. "URGENT! Water me!" tweeted Pothos on Feb. 6. Pothos is a plant that lives in Toronto and has 3,388 followers.
Though bookstores are filled with volumes of text, they are seldom expected to create text of their own. McNally Jackson Books tweets on books, events and helpful tips for the book buying public. "Customer asked for a bilingual poetry book to improve her Spanish. Gave her Vallejo. Useful when traveling to fecund modernist hellscapes," mcnallyjackson Feb. 21 tweeted. Similarly, Housing Works Bookstore, a non-profit bookstore, tweets events, encouraging the Twitter universe on Feb. 22 to "Bring your kiddies! http://www.housingworks.org/events/detail/housing-works-playhouse-presents-brady-rymer-and-the-little-band-that-could/ However astounding a talking bookstore may be, a bookstore that verbally duels other bookstores at 140-characters-a-clip is even more so. A December 2009 tweet war, chronicled by "The Huffington Post," erupted among McNally Jackson Books, Housing Works Bookstore and WORD, a Brooklyn bookstore. Though the playful animosity has since cooled, the stores all maintain a high followership: McNally Jackson Books with 2,313, Housing Works Bookstore with 1,8986 and WORD with 2,926, respectively.
Tweet-a-Watt counts an electrical appliance's wattage and posts the energy used on Twitter through a direct online connection. Tweet-a-Watt plugs into a household outlet and allows users to plug appliances into the apparatus and for measurement. The watt counter is wireless and periodically transmits the wattage of a specific product to a Web site, which graphs the changes in wattage continuously. The Tweet-a-Watt's creator also provides a link showing a follower how to assemble or buy a Tweet-a-Watt of his own. Tweet-a-Watt currently has 613 followers.
A toaster, called mytoaster, reaches out to the world to communicate two things: “toasting” and “done toasting.” This toaster only needs a piece of bread and a switchboard creating a hardware/digital interface to begin tweeting. Created by Hans Scharler of Pittsburgh, Phil., mytoaster, with its toasty tweeting abilities, has 334 followers.
What do sneakers, a cemetery, an electricity meter and a toilet have in common? They're all tweeting. A growing list of stuff is a-Twitter -- and people are actually following the feeds.