This weekend the first annual Hopscotch Music Festival is taking place in Raleigh. Over a hundred bands, parties, and general downtown rocking out for four days.
I work for one of the sponsors so I wanted to keep track of the festival, pictures of the events, news coverage, and so on. To do so I set up several information traps that I’ll use just through this weekend and then expire. It was an interesting exercise so I wanted to share with you what I did.
There’s already been plenty of news coverage so I knew there would more during the festival. Hopscotch is an unusual enough word that I was able to use the query hopscotch location:nc at Google News and get almost all relevant results. (Remember, the location: syntax restricts results to media within a specific state. I might miss a few items, but on the other hand I’ll get really targeted results.) I picked up the RSS feed and put it in my reader.
Finding relevant blog posts was a bit tougher. I tried Technorati but a search for hopscotch got only six results total and most of them were not relevant. Searching Google Blogs for hopscotch found a lot more content and a little spam; still, the results were clean enough that the result feed went in my reader.
I couldn’t find a search interface for Bloglines, and Blogdigger had no results at all. Icerocket had plenty of results but there was a serious relevance problem. Narrowing down my search to “Hopscotch Music (I didn’t want to add another word as I wasn’t sure if people would refer to it as “Fest” or “Festival”) brought me a good set of results, and I added that RSS feed to my reader.
Hopscotch has tags devoted to it and of course you can do some geographic searching with Twitter. But despite the fact that I can do some narrowing of my Twitter search, I did not want to trap for just the hashtag #hopscotch. If I did that, I would be flooded with a lot of less-useful content, like tweets for people who arrive at venues, or leave, or so forth. So I decided to trap for multimedia content.
Searching for #hopscotch yfrog and #hopscotch plixi and #hopscotch twitpic will clue me in to pictures taken at the festival and quickly put online. Those queries went into my RSS feed reader after I saw they were already producing good results even though the festival started just this afternoon. (I’m writing this Thursday night.) I’m testing another query, hopscotch http -yfrog -twitpic, to pick up all the tweets with links that aren’t pictures, but at the moment those are mostly Foursquare checkins.
(These traps are only going to be active for three days, so I probably won’t abandon any of the traps before the end of the festival. But if I were building these traps to keep them for a long period of time, I’d pay careful attention to what my RSS feeds were producing and quickly dump any that were providing spammy or useless results. I only have so much time to review what I’m picking up.)
Looking at the pictures on Twitter reminded me that Flickr might be getting images of Hopscotch as well. A test revealed that hopscotch was currently working okay as a search term, with lots of band pictures and only one irrelevant result. So that went in the feeder too. (For information on how to make keyword-based RSS feeds for Flickr, check out my article.)
That was Quick
Setting up this set of traps only took about twenty minutes. I skipped a lot — didn’t get into discussion forums, for example, didn’t try to trap Facebook, and didn’t expand my news story search beyond what Google offers. But I feel this’ll give me a good overview of what’s going on a feedback from a wide variety of attendees. I’ll try to do a followup article next week about what I found and what I’d do differently next time.