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Mocking Eye

'Tis all in vain?

MBTAsux - Mining the Zeitgeist

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My latest personal project is MBTAsux. For those who don't know, the MBTA is Boston's public transportation authority, running subways, busses, commuter rail, and the like. To say the least, many people are unhappy with the way it is operated. So, as a subject near and dear to my heart, I decide to make MBTAsux. What it is: grabbing twitter messages and posting them in a format that allows easy skimming, in addition to extracting some data from the text. The things I'm interested in:
  • Rudimentary sentiment analysis, i.e. how are people feeling about the MBTA right now?
  • Location tracking. I want to figure out where people complain the most. Control that for the "size" of the stations (Park and South Station would probably win the popular vote here).
Things I've yet to implement that I think are essential:
  • Submission form, and a mobile version of it. You know, for people who don't use twitter.
  • Map. Alas, people are not really mentioning their exact stops when they complain. So there is a really small percentage of twitters coming in that would be mappable. This brings me to the next feature:
  • A nano-format for complaining about the MBTA on twitter and other media. Something like: s:kendall someone just played the Marseillaise on the hanging pipes #mbtasux
  • How I wrote it:
    • Python
    • Google App Engine
    • Latest version of the code will be released soon under a BSD license.