Pudding face: Twitter powered billboard shows America’s mood

Filed as Editorial on August 5, 2011 12:57 am

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A billboard in New York neighborhood Soho is attracting a lot of attention and bugging some people out.

Image from http://blog.seattlepi.com

What you see above in this picture is a Twitter-powered billboard that smiles or frowns depending on the number of smiley or frowney twitter emoticons floating around American Twitter space.  Apart from causing people to crane their neck and shudder a bit, the installation actually serves a purpose — it can tell if people are getting free pudding.

Jell-O Pudding erected the billboard with the face of copywriter Ian Hart and says that if the general mood of America gets a bit down in the mouth, they’re giving away certificates for free pudding.

You can check out how America is feeling at www.jellopuddingface.com if you can’t drive up to Soho to see the billboard yourself.  After checking it right now, it seems most of America is rolling around in the dumps and some people will definitely cushion the impact with a tub of pudding. (Personally, I prefer flan over pudding.)

This seems to be a really innovative idea for harnessing Twitter and making it visible through real world installations.

I am not at all completely sure what the Twitter engine that powers the billboard  looks for in order to decide whether to make the billboard frown or smile, but I guess it’s counting either words or characters that make up emoticons.  In any case, I think it’s a simple enough program that’s plugged into robotics and can be re-applied to any other number of products.

Like, for example, can you imagine a billboard that sags or stands up depending on the general level or randiness of people?  That’ll be a lot of help, especially on a Friday or Saturday night when you’re trying to figure out whether or not you’ll get lucky or not.

The Pudding Face billboard may already be one of many instances where social media is actually finding its place in the real world and the next technological leaps will probably involve more sophisticated ways of integrating our online lives with real world interactions.

Previously, we pointed out that another social media/real world integration is coming from a cash register that is hooked up to social networking accounts.  Bean Stalk Loyalty actually records purchases made with a loyalty or privilege car and renders purchases made through the card into status updates on the card holder’s social networking account.

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