real time tracking of cat related online activity
oCat continuously monitors cat related online activity. Using Google’s YouTube API, a server collects data concerning popular and new cat videos. A device, the oCat News Distractor, a Twitter bot, Kitty o’Cat (@ocatkitty), and a website, ocat.co, use this data to generate a data visualization and tweets and to display videos. The aim of the project is to both increase and reveal the amount of time people spend on watching cat videos.
The oCat News Distractor visualizes the amount of new cat-video views. It monitors the 25 most popular cat videos, counts their views and stamps a paw print on a timeline every 1000 new video views. The timeline consists of current news collected from various RSS feeds. Every minute a thermal printer prints a new section containing a timestamp, source and headline.

The paw prints stamped by the altered Maneki-neko are meant to cover the headlines to an extent that makes them hard to read, demonstrating how cat content can distract from more serious online content. The stamped timeline piles up on the ground in front of the device, allowing to investigate the recent past. An LCD-screen on the device displays the current number of views the 25 most popular cat videos have collected since midnight. 
The oCat News Distractor (original speed - one news-print per minute)
The Twitter bot, Kitty o’Cat (@ocatkitty), unremittingly tweets about cat videos.
Every twelve hours the bot posts a regular update, choosing the most interesting change within the last six hours to tweet about. This can be the number of new uploads, the amount of new views today, or a specific video that has gotten a remarkable amount of views during the day.
Between the regular updates, there is a chance the bot tweets about remarkable changes in the data or picks a random video to tweet about. These irregular tweets are limited to maximum three per day.
The website ocat.co provides a platform to binge watch cat videos. It randomly chooses a video from the list of popular or new videos to play. Videos can be skipped by pressing the button below the cat video TV. 
Google provides a YouTube data API, which can be used to retrieve live information about videos. Using PHP, a server continuously collects all kinds of data regarding cat videos on YouTube (special thanks to C.D. Peterson for his PHP-developing-skills).

The oCat News Distractor was built using Arduino with an ESP Wi-Fi module, a servo and an LCD screen connected to it. The cat is an altered Maneki-neko, holding a stamp using welding wire and hot glue. Even though I filled the stamp with extra ink, it did not work properly and I had to cut out the paw-shape from a sponge and stitch it onto the original stamp.

The thermal printer used in the device needs a USB connection, so I used a Raspberry Pi to control it. I wrote a Python script that checks four different RSS news feeds for new posts every 15 minutes and prints one headline with a timestamp every minute.

The Twitter bot was programmed using Python and a library called tweepy. Most of the script is reading JSON files, juggling and comparing data and text files and in the end mixing up parts of a sentence to form a tweet.

The website was built using HTML, CSS, Bootstrap and JavaScript- It uses the arrays of videos collected by the server and continuously picks a random video to play.
This project was part of the 'Design Pop' seminar by Prof. Dennis P. Paul at the University of Arts Bremen (2016). 

- Simulacrum at Galerie Flut Bremen (2016)
- Hochschultage HfK Bremen (2017)

- Arduino.cc (201)
designboom.com (2016)
- designboom.cn (2016)
- HfK Bremen (2017)
- Catalogue of EMAF No 30: Push (2017)
- Print edition of the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung (2017-04-28) 
- NOZ.de (2017)
- Make:Magazin (2017)


oCat continuously monitors cat related online activity. Using Google’s YouTube API, a server collects data regarding popular and new cat videos. Read More