Cheer Up! Some Holiday Hacking

With my star undergrads Ian and Abe, and backend support from Ziad, we put together this mashup for the holidays! We use the data from the Twitter streaming crawler we built (for our NSF-funded work) to get Instagram photos posted on Twitter that have the word Christmas in the tweet, and where the photo location is available on Twitter. We then add the Google Streetview of the photo location and, well, mash them all together.

Cheerbeat Screenshot

The result is an interesting juxtaposition (as one comment on my Facebook post captured well) of the “small instagram-style photos (typically close-up, indoors) against the backdrop of the (typically distant, outdoors) Google street views”. As such, the StreetView gives context to the Instagram photo and maybe provides the settings in which the activity in the photo is taking place, another dimension of understanding, often much stronger than the text of the tweet itself.

Cheerbeat Screenshot

The app is also an interesting (and mostly unintended) statement about privacy — I don’t know what these users would feel like knowing their environment is exposed to all, and not just in a default bland zoomed-in map format.

Cheerbeat Screenshot

The Cheerbeat application (instacheer was our first name choice but, perhaps not amazingly, already taken with another Instragram Christmas mashup!) mostly runs as javascript in the browser. We continuously crawl Twitter data using the streaming API on our server. When the app loads, it grabs from our server a .json file with the latest 250 tweets with “Christmas”, “” that have geo coordinates that are not empty. We then (in the browser) use the Google Streetview API to find which of these insta-tweets’ locations are available. The app then rotates through the tweets/photos showing the tweet, picture, location, time and Streetview of each.

As a side note, after all this filtering,  surprisingly little data satisfied all these criteria, mostly (I suspect) because Twitter requires specific user authorization for location information to be posted in tweets. In other words, even though many (most?) Instagrams will have location data, a lot of those will not have their data available when posted on Twitter.

There are extra features coming for this app (e.g., choosing your own keywords), but more on that later.

Happy holidays and enjoy the beat!


3 thoughts on “Cheer Up! Some Holiday Hacking

  1. Jessa

    I like the name Cheerbeat – instacheer sounds like an infomercial product of some kind. Then again, it could just be that Cheerbeat is vaguely reminiscent of Sleater Kinney’s penultimate album.

  2. Raphael Troncy

    Interesting mashup indeed!

    The (shortened) URLs from the tweets are not hyperlinks, although there should always be Instagram link, right? Why not making them clickable?

    Is there a way to control the slideshow? It seems timed at the moment with no possibility to go forward and backward, correct?

    I look forward the next version where you can input a search term 🙂
    Happy Holidays!

  3. naaman Post author

    We didn’t make the links clickable because:
    1) we didn’t think about it,
    2) all the content already appears on our page so why send people to instagram?

    No control: yes, next version maybe 🙂

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