philipp's blog


philipp's blog

I created thingsmap in 2013, and it might just be the first piece of art I consciously created. All other projects I can remember were serving some kind of purpose - but thingsmap just stood for itself.

The idea of thingsmap is easy: Get real-time updates from social media on a map. It starts with an empty map - beautiful, watercolor maps by stamen - and as soon as someone posts something on social media somewhere on that map, a pin drops on its exact location. It supported Instagram, Flickr, Foursquare and Twitter.

thingsmap was mesmerising. I remember coding on thingsmap and having it open on Rome throughout the evening, and I saw selfies in front of the colosseum slowly giving way to images of food.

thingsmap only worked in the time area of 2013. Nowadays, open APIs that would allow subscribing to real-time events are scarce, and the sheer volume of location-based posts has increased by so much that the result would no longer be a soothing summer rain of pins - it'd be a confusing downpour of data1.

thingsmap was terrifying. I remember coding on thingsmap at the evening (in local time) when the Boston Marathon Bombing happened. I quickly added Boston as a location to thingsmap as an attempt to fill the helplessness that comes with catastrophes. I saw confusion, speculation and fear as tiny pins dropping on that gorgeous map. I felt dirty watching, I couldn't stop.

  1. I once tried to build a remixed idea which involved getting notifications for social media activity around you. I tried it out in Munich, one of the biggest cities in Germany, and my phone almost blew up.