Instagram drives triple j Road Trip Relay website

Listeners submitted photos from all over Australia via the app to the ABC Open developed site

triple j Road Trip Relay contributor Jonathon Jones having fun on an old ute in Bulyee, Western Australia. The image was uploaded to the Relay website via Instagram. Photo courtesy of Jonathon Jones and the ABC Open.

triple j Road Trip Relay contributor Jonathon Jones having fun on an old ute in Bulyee, Western Australia. The image was uploaded to the Relay website via Instagram. Photo courtesy of Jonathon Jones and the ABC Open.

When triple j listeners took photos and sent them to the Road Trip Relay website during summer 2012-13, photo sharing app Instagram made uploading easy for even the most amateur photographers.

Developed as a partnership between the radio station and regional digital media initiative ABC Open, the Relay website is envisioned as a digital record of the traditional Australian summer road trip. After a call for entries was made on triple j, listeners uploaded 7,631 photos and 582 videos from mid-October 2012 through to 20 January 2013 from places such as Coober Pedy in South Australia.

ABC Open curatorial editor Eleanor Bell told Techworld Australia that the development team found implementing the Instagram application programming interface (API) on the website easy. The API also worked reliably when people submitted photos.

“Using Instagram was enormously successful; it was one of the wins of this project. It’s easy, accessible and people can do it while they’re moving,” she said.

“In terms of being an accessible tool for amateur photographers it’s a really useful platform to integrate within the ABC Open site.”

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Aside from Instragram, contributors were also encouraged to use geo-tagging for their photos so the editorial team could easily file images in the correct location on the map of Australia which features on the website’s homepage.

“One of the challenges we came up against is that when you’re out of mobile coverage, people would have to geo-tag things when they came back into a coverage area rather than where they took the image,” she said.

To make life easier for the ABC Open team in curating all of the photographic entries, images could be submitted via Instagram and ABC Open's existing content uploading infrastructure. For video entries, a JavaScript-based API provided a common method of playing video from multiple sources such as YouTube or Vimeo.

Bell added that Facebook was “crucial” in communicating with triple j's Internet savvy audience who are mainly aged between 18 and 25 years.

“We set up an event page on Facebook to help contributors with trouble shooting or submitting content. People shared their experiences with each other and organised meet ups via the page,” she said.

Content

According to Bell, the biggest lesson learnt by the website team was processing the sheer amount of content received. In total, 8213 entries were submitted.

“It was about going through the content and ordering it,” she said. “With a site like this which is so focused on the geographical aspects, it’s really important that we put images and video where it ought to be.”

Given the youthful exuberance of the audience, the website received 11 shots of people’s bottoms, some photos in the altogether from a nude beach and -- via video -- colourful language.

However, Bell said her team tried not to edit the content too much.

“Let’s be honest, this is a triple j project and they are a little bit cheeky,” she said.

While there are no immediate plans to hold another Road Trip Relay, the website will serve as a “moment in time” for future Australians to see what 18-to-25 year olds got up to during summer 2012-13.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Techworld Australia on Twitter: @Techworld_Au, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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