Eventster, the iOS app which aggregates events across North America and Europe, is rolling out a big update today which it hopes will further differentiate its event listings application from numerous competitors. The update uses semantic technologies to guess at the relevant keywords surrounding an event in order to integrate social media postings from Twitter, YouTube and Instagram in real-time alongside the listing.
Co-founder Luke Stangel describes this feature as “ambient social,” but that moniker reminds us of the trendy apps which emerged during this year’s SXSW event in Austin, like Highlight, Glancee, Banjo and others. Those were focused on connecting people for networking purposes, but Eventster just wants to help spice up plain old event listings, which are often kind of dry, with more engaging content.
While integrating social media may seem like a minor addition, Stangel explains that the way they did this actually took a bit of work. “It was a significant technical challenge capturing the social stream and making it relevant,” he explains. “We did it through semantic analysis, guessing the hashtags, keywords and names of artists/organizations appearing at the event.” He admits that it’s not perfect yet – for example, Chicago the musical shows up as #chicago in Eventster’s algorithm right now. To work around this, the app also supports having users submit hashtags the algorithms may have missed.
“It’s been a really neat piece of code to write,” says Stangel, as he starts to tell a story that demonstrates why it’s useful. “In mid-July, dozens of people started upvoting this Demi Lovato concert in San Jose. As a group, we’re fairly hip, but we had no idea who Demi Lovato was,” he says. “When we flipped on social signals, the Demi Lovato story snapped into focus: She’s a teenager with a huge, huge social base. Social signals told us everything we needed to know… stay away from this concert, because her music sucks.”