BYU students give life to crowd-sourced news

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Six months ago, two BYU students formed a legal partnership, Firehose Media, and created a new smartphone application called Tweetgrid, which is designed to optimize the way people get their news.

Tommy Richardson, a junior studying tourism, had been looking for a new way to help people consume media.

“I love the news and I feel, at times, frustrated by the delay between when things actually happen and when they are reported,”  Richardson said. “The fact is, that news stations can’t get to every location as things are happening. But people are actually there, witnessing it and tweeting about it. We realized that Twitter is actually the fastest way to obtain information, so we found a way to make Twitter even faster.”

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BYU students Greg Burnham and Tommy Richardson created the smartphone app Tweetgrid as an altenative news source.
Tweetgrid brings users news through a technique called crowd-sourcing – this is the aggregation of unique content written or tweeted by people that are there in the middle of the story.

The other founder of Tweetgrid is Greg Burnham, a junior studying computer engineering.

“We didn’t want this app to be too complicated,” Burnham said. “We don’t want the user to have to be Twitter-savvy in order to use it. It’s easy to use.”

Essentially, once you have the app, you are able to type in a key word or phrase and all the tweets that involve that key word pop up, in real time.

“Subscribing to any major newspaper is costly, and as a student, getting it mailed to your apartment can get complicated,” Burnham said. “This is a good way to just hop on your iPhone and see what’s going on in the world right now.”

Tweetgrid was released on Aug. 28 and already has hundreds of users, including an international audience from countries such as, Finland, Israel and Saudi Arabia. On the day Tweetgrid was released, Appadvice.com rated it as one of the day’s best new apps.

Tweetgrid is only one part of Firehouse Media’s larger goals.

“We have a lot of plans designed so that in the future, people can find things more easily across several mediums,” Burnham said. “Tweetgrid is sort of a stepping stone to future projects.”

Other BYU students have already started using Tweetgrid as one of their main social media platforms. Cory Clements, a senior studying linguistics uses Tweetgrid frequently,

“I really love Twitter and social media, I’m always looking for new platforms to use,” Clements said. “This app is really visual, it’s a great way to see real-time events on Twitter. I like sports, so I can see what people are talking about during a game, in an interactive, live-feed way.”

Tweetgrid is available for download on Apple’s App Store.

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