2012-05-09-groundtweet

Twitter really is a wonderful place!

Two months ago, a good friend of mine sent me a link to this tweet, written by @scotwilliams

The capacity of the Spion KOP is approx 12,340. Meaning followers of @Theanfieldwrap now looks something like this… http://tomdeavellar.com/images/Liverpool_kop.jpg

Now, like many of the people in this story, I’ve never met Scot, but his tweet got me thinking… Is there any way of automating a process to enable football fans to visualize their twitter followers in the context of a football crowd? Scott had taken the time to match up @theanfieldwrap’s followers with an image of the world-famous, Kop, but what if there was a way of doing this automatically, and letting everyone play along too.

I did a quick feasibility study to work out what problems I faced, and quickly realised a couple of things:

  1. I had no photos of football grounds and no money to have get any taken.
  2. Most people on twitter don’t have 12,340 followers, they have 176. This means that finding photos of tiny grounds was going to be difficult.
  3. I had absolutely no idea how to go about creating an application that would perform the functionality I was looking for.

The first problem was solved by the hundreds of photographers on Flickr who are prepared to release their images under the creative commons license. This means that chumps like me, can use their images on our websites, provided that there is the appropriate credit at the bottom. To the many photographers whose photos we have linked to (none of whom I have met) a big THANK YOU.

The second problem was a little more tricky. Finding Flickr images of grounds with capacities of between 1,000 – 100,000 is fairly straightforward, however as I mentioned before, “only 0.05% (of users) have more than 10,000, and only 2.05% have more than 1,000 followers. The vast majority of users – 95.8% – have less than 500 followers

This meant that instead of using the capacities of grounds, for the lower numbers, I needed to use spectator numbers, and to be precise, I needed photos from lots of matches with pretty low attendances!

To the rescue came David Bauckham from Centre Circle Publishing. David has an amazing portfolio of photos on his Flickr account, however being a professional photographer, he doesn’t give his images away for free. After introducing myself and explaining the concept, David kindly agreed to let us use some of his photos on our project, and without his generosity, the GroundTweet wouldn’t have been possible.

The final link in the chain, and the real genius behind the site is another person who I have never met, but whose brilliant mind and awesome coding skills have created GroundTweet. @rcammisola (Rocco) responded to a tweet I sent asking for help with the project, and from the very start has been generous with his time, and extremely competent with his design skills. He has managed to take my roughly formed ideas and create something genuinely wonderful with them, and for this I am eternally grateful. Rocco is a lovely bloke, a brilliant developer, and one day he will be a very rich man. He also knows an obscene amount about football, which is handy too.

So that’s the story of the site. I hope you enjoy GroundTweet, and I hope you were happy with the club with whom you were paired!

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