With the web and the real world becoming increasingly intertwined, I found myself wandering about how easy it would be for an appallingly bad programmer like myself to start automatically sending information from the real world to the web. This was the start of one of the most pointless feeds on Twitter: @MyColdRoom.
@MyColdRoom is a Twitter stream of the temperature in my home ‘office’, automatically generated when my desktop is turned on.
I started with a USB thermometer because:
1) USB thermometers are cheap (£10-£15).
2) USB thermometers come with software to write to text files.
3) My flat is generally bloody freezing and I wanted to know how freezing.
Unfortunately the software that came with TEMPerNTC was useless: ‘device error’. Luckily [as always] there was someone out there who had created the appropriate library, and even a simple Visual Basic app. A dozen or so lines of appalling code later (and a shortcut in the right folder) and the application is posting to Twitter whenever the computer is turned on and every time the temperature changes by more than half a degree.
As was quickly noted, it is a rather pointless stream; beyond my mother there are very few people who care about the temperature in my office. However the interest in a web of objects has little to do with single streams in isolation, but with the patterns that emerge from multiple streams, and with information being shared between objects.
It’s amazing how simple it is to set up an automatic Twitter stream from the real world. It’ll be interesting to see who goes the furthest in automating the most mundane of events from around their home.