Wick Communications

Does The Beat scare you?

In Innovation on 7 Dec 2012 at 10:13 am

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I hesitate to mention this because it is completely addicting. It’s called The Beat, and it’s a project of the Social Media Information Lab at the School of Communications and Information at Rutgers University.

Here’s how it works. In the dialogue box provided, type in a word, any word that strikes you. The Beat then searches Instagram images for that hashtag. And here’s the interesting part: It then pairs that Instagram image with the corresponding Google Street View using the geotagging info users allow on their Instagram settings.

In other words, it shows you the photo someone shot and where they shot it.

So who cares? Well, developer Mor Naaman, speaking on the MediaTwits blog, says “Our goal is to learn about society from the social media information.” For instance, researchers could use The Beat to tell whether people stay up later in New York City or Boston. (That is an example Naaman used on Mediatwits, but I’m a little fuzzy on how he would do that. I don’t see a way to count the number of users up at any given time or really quantify this information. Perhaps I’m missing it.) You might also get some sense whether #partysydney gets more hits than #partyneworleans.

And that is one big concern. Try typing in “wasted” or “drunk.” A lot of folks don’t mind taking photos of themselves in compromising positions. They may be unhappy to find that we can now tell exactly where they are when they are #waydrunk. …

Naaman says all that info is out there anyway and that The Beat simply brings it together.

“It absolutely raises awareness for people,” Naaman said.

It’s interesting. Are there any uses for us? Maybe a big University of Arizona football game? What if you could link to The Beat or use it as a Widget so that visitors to our site could see a sort of streaming #wildcats?



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