Happy July 4th! (There’s a Patriotic App for That, Too.)

Posted on July 4th 2011

Happy July 4th! (There’s a Patriotic App for That, Too.)

Screenshot: Courtesy Alexander HowardCivic developers at Code For America created a Web application in honor of this year’s Independence Day that features a number of patriotic values: creativity, technical expertise and interest in the public discourse of their fellow citizens. Flag.CodeForAmerica.org aggregates Twitter avatars from users who tweet using the hashtag #July4th and mashes them up into a mosaic representing the Stars and Stripes. The first flag of the United States of America had a star and a stripe for each state. This flag has a tile for each human’s account.

“I have had the idea to do this for a while,” writes in Abhi Nemani, director of strategy and communication at Code for America, “soon after last year’s binary art campaign, but had to wait until we got the code infrastructure in place to be able to execute it at scale.”

Fortunately, Nemani said, the Mozilla Foundation worked with a development shop, Quodies, to create a similar mosaic when they launched Firefox 4 – check out their Firefox Tweet Machine.

“Given that it’s Mozilla, the code was open source of course,” said Nemani. ”We rewired it some to get it working for us and added in some documentation so it should be easier for the next deployment,” said Nemani. Tyler Stadler was the development lead and Karla Macedo the designer.

If you want to check out the code for Twitter Collage, you can find it at Github. There’s no cap on #July4th responses, so tweet away.

The avatar mosaic is a 21st century update that captures some of the diversity and unity of that first flag by featuring some of the many voices that now can be heard on the public square of our time, the Internet. Not all of the tweets captured are positive. Some include strident political messages, divisive rhetoric or commercial promotions. It’s the public, in all of its uncensored, unvarnished, raw glory. The republic that the founding fathers fought and died for included the freedom of speech for its citizens. Over two centuries later, we’re seeing it today, coalesced around a national holiday.

“We hold these tweets to be self evident, that all humans are created equal…”

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Alexander Howard

Alexander Howard

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