Today we tried another social twitter experiment in the lecture New Media, New Technology within our MSc program Media Technology called "twitPong". Martin Weber (@web_martin) and me modified a "Mentor TG20 Sport Console" (the Nintento Wii of 1977) to work with tweets. The idea is that players send a tweet in the format "#twitPong #roundX #playerX value" to the social microblogging service. A application receives the twitter stream for the #twitPong-hashtag and sends the values for the player and the position of the paddle to an Arduino Duemilanove.

For the big demo we had about 6 players, everybody could decide to play as #p1 or #p2 and send values between 1 and 14 to twitter, were 7 was the middle, 14 the top and 1 the bottom. After the Arduino it got tricky and low-budget with the hardware to control the paddles: the Arduino set a PWM port for each player which lights an LED. In front of the LED there was a light sensor which acted as potentiometer/resistor for the paddle controllers, which we disassembled for that purpose. You can watch the full presentation at vimeo. Enjoy.


[vimeo w=480&h=270]

Twitter is as much an information system as it is a communication system. Many magazines or blogs use it to distribute links or news (one-to-many communication) and it is an honor for the content providers to get linked by those popular magazines as many people will get adverted to the (more or less valuable) content. But lately it seems to me that 5 minutes after an interesting link has been published, the website of the content provider is down. So if one magazine with a few thousand followers distributes a link which will get retweeted or rephrased by other magazines or distributors (users with a few hundred or thousand followers), what happens to the content provider?

By the definition of Wikipedia, this is a DDoS Attack:

A denial-of-service attack (DoS attack) or distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS attack) is an attempt to make a computer resource unavailable to its intended users. Although the means to carry out, motives for, and targets of a DoS attack may vary, it generally consists of the concerted efforts of a person or people to prevent an Internet site or service from functioning efficiently or at all, temporarily or indefinitely.

The distribution of the links is surely not intentional by the twitter-users but surely shows some impact on how fast a system can get down by too many requests. In my opinion is in the responsibility of the distributors to set some time before retweeting or republishing a link to extend the time and traffic load between the requests.

For the course 'Introduction to Programming' at Leiden University I created my first game named "tweeteroids". It's a clone of the famous Asteroids game, but instead of shooting rocks you can shoot twitter user images which explode in their original twitter message. Each character of the message can still hit the ship, so it can get really tricky by the text length or the keyword which is used to filter the tweets. The game is coded in, an interactive Java environment. However, most of the work was done with IntelliJ IDEA, a brilliant Java IDE. There's a guide how to implement the libraries into another IDE here.


[vimeo w=400&h=225]


Creative Commons License tweeteroids by Patrick Heneise is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


To play the game you need of course. Download the source and generate the fonts SansSerif-8.vlw and Serif-48.vlw (there's a problem in the current version with the font environment, so I can't provide working fonts, sorry).

Get and play: download tweeteroids!

Feel free to modify the source and improve the game. Have fun.

Martin Weber and me created this little piece of Processing code for the “Perceptualization”-class in the Media Technology programm, Leiden University. You can watch a demo here. Please see the documentation for further information.

TwitBeat is an approach to shift the realtime-text-information from twitter to the area of sound. TwitBeat listens to public messages on twitter with a specific keyword. This key word can be a string or a #hashtag. TwitBeat then collects the realtime-information and conversation which is published on twitter right now. The application converts this text into sound which is hearable to humans.

twitbeat download (28KB)

As my last university account finally is getting closed you can download my BSc thesis about geosocial networking and social relationships in geographic context here.

Geosocial Network Thesis by Patrick Heneise, (~3.5MB)