Event: September 24, 2010
Like a heart-broken lover, after Wave, I hesitate to get excited about the open source projects I hear about. Wave never really panned out, and personally I think there was too much T & A and not enough brains and horsepower there. All show and little tell. On the other hand, there’s ThinkUp, a project just emerging from the ashes of its previous incarnations and looking refreshed and energetic.
ThinkUp (Expert Labs Project) is a PHP/mySQL program that will scour social media sites for its members and turn the cacophony (some would say CACAphony) it finds there into a nearly coherent conversion. Currently working with Twitter, Facebook and Flickr, it has a sporty plugin architecture and a simple, modern, clean look to its pages.
Wonderful, you say, drifting off, but what does it do?
I kinda wondered about that myself, so instead of setting up the crawler as a cron job, I ran it manually. Anyone into the open source world will enjoy watching the crawler cheerfully tell you what it is doing, babbling away with just enough info about how hard it’s working and how much juice Twitter is allowing you to suck in until next time. The crawler looks at the accounts you’ve set up, grabs the posts, Tweets, for example and stores them in the database. The data is sliced, diced and messed with and displayed in many different useful ways. I guess if you wondered about the expression “wisdom of the crowd” which I’d challenge daily, here’s a tool to test that very idea. One of the plugins available will decode short links, another does something with geolocation that is probably worth doing.
Allow members of your crowd to sign up for your ThinkUp site. They then connect your ThinkUp app to Twitter (and the other sites if you care to). Assuming people are talking on Twitter, and that they have allowed their posts to appear on the public timeline, you should be able to see conversations, whole subjects developing and interlinked.
Head over to Gina Trapani’s Github and grab the code. It literally took me 5 minutes to install and get it running. ThinkUp requires a server with php5, mysql and a minimum of pep if you plan on having members and guests. Give it a try or wait until we open our own VUC ThinkUp.