Want Your Own Twitter Radio? Check Out Magpi

Wouldn’t it be cool to tune in to your favorite Twitter list and hear the tweets read to you as you get ready for work?

Magpi radio does that! And you can have one – if you can follow the instructions and make one yourself, that is.

William Lindmeier reformatted Twitter as a radio for his Physical Computing final project at @ITP_NYU, “a 2-year graduate program in Tisch, NYU to explore the creative uses of communication technologies – a Center for the Recently Possible.”

It’s called Magpi Radio.

How did he come up with this idea? According to his blog, after spending a semester at ITP, he found that “one of the most popular themes is synesthesia. Students like to use technology to translate colors into sound, words into images, light into motion, etc.. All of the projects I’ve worked on in Physical Computing do this on one level or another—the very act of converting data into electricity is a sort of synesthesia.”

Enter Magpi Radio.

Magpi Radio uses text-to-speech to read tweets coming in from various channels. Volume and power are controlled by the knob on the left. Channels can be selected by turning the knob on the right. As you click through channels, the beak changes color so you have a “glanceable” indication of it’s state. Pressing the knob on the right will favorite the last tweet, indicated by a red pulsing beak.

There are two kinds of channels; lists and streams. Lists use the REST API to read tweets from lists that have been created on the @magpiradio account. For example, “News,” “Humor,” and “Weird.”  Streams read tweets in real-time that are filtered by criteria. The “Nearby” channel reads tweets that have been geo-tagged in your immediate vicinity, like a social police-scanner. The “@magpiradio”  channel reads tweets sent to the radio, and the “Requests” channel pivots based on search terms that you send the radio.

Lindmeier doesn’t have any immediate plans for Magpi Radio, but has posted the code and his process online incase anyone else wanted to make one or expand on the idea. So if you want to build one yourself after watching it in action, read this.

Magpi Radio: Listen to Twitter from Bill on Vimeo.

(Twitter radio image from William Lindmeier’s ITP blog)