July 8th, 2009
If Twitter is just people talking about what they’re eating, then iAte’s real-time local restaurant reviews are sheer genius
You know the old (well, old in Internet time) joke. Twitter? Why would I get on Twitter? Isn’t that just people talking about what they’re eating?
Well, yeah. To some extent it is. But what if they were talking about that new restaurant where you were going to spend your anniversary—and it sucked. Or what if you were really hankering for vegan BBQ and your first choice happened to be closed? Sometimes what people are eating, where they’re eating, and what they’re tweeting can be extremely valuable.
And Portland-based iAte is gobbling that Twitter data up and serving up some very tasty results.
Now, it’s no secret that these days there is no better source for real-time news than Twitter. And if people are talking about what they’re eating, that’s real-time news too. If you can put it in context.
And that’s exactly what iAte does by giving you local restaurant information coupled with tweets associated with the venue. So instead of everyone yammering about what they’re eating, you get a focused stream about a certain food in a certain town or about a specific restaurant. All quickly and easily digestible. It’s so simple, it’s genius.
I will pause to allow you to go head to desk or palm to forehead while mumbling “Why didn’t I think of that?”
How’s it work? A couple of ways. iAte allows you to search by restaurant if there’s a particular place you want to go. Like Portland’s most popular geek hangout, the Green Dragon. Or maybe you’re only interested in the beer at Green Dragon? You can search for that too.
Maybe you’ve no idea where you want to eat, but you know what you want to eat. Say maybe you’re looking for some—oh I don’t know—some pie. Just select “Eats” on iAte and search for that.
No matter which way you choose to search, you’re going to get the latest and greatest feedback on that place. No more relying on old Yelp entries or decrepit CitySearch misinformation. You’ll still get the details you need about the restaurant and how many people have mentioned it. But the difference is that you’ll get timely information.
(As an aside, I’m really excited to see iAte parsing the Twitter stream to provide relevant local information. Whenever anyone brings up the “Twitter doesn’t have a revenue stream” argument, I always imagine the Twitter folks smiling and nodding as they quietly compile reports like iAte’s and sell them to major brands. “This is what people are saying,” they say. “This is how your product launch was received. This is how much your customer service sucks.” It’s great to see someone else taking the opportunity to mine this treasure trove of information.)
I’ve been using iAte since I saw it demoed at Portland Web Innovators last week. And I have to say, it’s been far more valuable to me than other sites of its ilk. But it’s not just because of the real-time reviews. It’s because I also have access to the reviewer.
With Yelp, I can read a review and that’s about it. With iAte, I can read a review and then @ the reviewer. Were you in a bad mood that day? What made that place rock? How often do you go there? Again, access to all of the information I need, exactly when I need it.