Networked Object: The Exploding Twit Bird

The Exploding Twit Bird visualizes a topic, user or word’s popularity on Twitter over the past week by mapping its frequency of use to the time spent expanding the body of a goofy-looking bird.
Original sketches of the Exploding Twit Bird - Kenneth Roraback
Original sketches of the Exploding Twit Bird. The giant USB cable represents the bird getting its Twitter data from a computer while also masking the cable of the air compressor.
Dumb Sketch of How the Exploding Twit Bird Works
This silly little sketch gets to the heart of why I created The Exploding Twit Bird: while Twitter can be used for incredibly important purposes, such as powering social movements, so many posts are simply chatter about the latest 15-minute celebrity. Also, looking at this sketch makes me laugh at myself, and that's a good thing, right?
The Exploding Twit Bird, perched on a cloud
I settled on the design in which the Exploding Twit Bird is perched upon a cloud. Depending on the popularity of the Twitter topic or user being tested, the bird may be small or large.
The Exploding Twit Bird on the verge of popping
The bird looks rather awkward and ridiculous as it nears the point of exploding.

'Project' => 'Use a physical object/sculpture to create a fun and interesting visualization of tweet volume around topics and users.',

'Challenges' => 'Connect the sculpture to the twitter, find a means to control an air compressor on command, and construct an object that is thematically tied to Twitter while remaining open for users to test different tweet volume around a range of topics and users.',

'Solutions' => 'I chose to build a big Twitter bird with a body (made out of a balloon) that expands to represent Tweet volume around a topic or user of choice. Perched atop a cloud, it has its mouth around a giant USB connector. An air compressor is operated via an Arduino board, controlled by Processing via the Arduino Firmata library, which draws on a PHP script that calls upon the Twitter API. People can interact with the bird by tweeting “@explodingtwit” and a topic or username of their choice. Then, make sure there’s a fresh balloon, and press a button on the bird’s foot. The PHP script will grab the latest tweet with ‘@explodingtwit’ in it, grab the search term that is paired with it, and count up all the tweets with that term from the past week. Processing grabs that number, and the Arduino board operates the air compressor to expand the balloon body. , please see my paper from Interface Studio.'

'Documentation' => ' The Exploding Twit Bird: Twitter Blows Up a Bird: The full paper about the Twitter Bird and its creation, created for my MFA Design and Technology “Interface” studio at Parsons.',       );