Thursday Talk on Twilio at HacDC: Build your own Dial-a-Song!

twilio logo
Last week, the phone application start-up Twilio obtained a nice little bundle of press for its announcement that it had obtained $3.7M in funding from Union Square Ventures.

To a couple of us at HacDC who have been playing with their product for a few months, this was not so surprising. They have built a clean and intuitive API for rapidly building phone applications using web services.

On Thursday, January 14, at 7:00PM at HacDC, Todd Fine and Darius Roberts will introduce the Twilio API (HTTP requests to dynamic XML), demonstrate two applications built using Python and Ruby, and finally lead a brainstorming session about other creative and artistic possibilities using the Twilio platform.

The first application is a distributed microphone for group-created ambient soundscapes (tentatively titled “Spacerad”). Twilio’s platform can record audio over the phone and offer a callback URL for the saved WAV file. Using XMPP (the instant messaging technology used, for example, in Google Talk), this URL is immediately sent to a Python script running on a local machine which can interact with a number of audio environments Todd likes to use (Pure Data, Supercollider, and, hopefully, Ableton Live). Hence, even a large audience, with the ubiquitous cellphone, can provide the samples for an open-ended and cooperative musical experience.

The second application is based on a classic phone application of the tape answering machine era. The creative band They Might Be Giants once had a Brooklyn local phone number, popular in the eighties and nineties, that would play some of their songs off an answering machine. While this service was “always busy, often broken,” with Twilio’s API, we can create a service serving TMBG songs that far surpasses the original Dial-a-Song in functionality, hopefully without losing its charm. Darius will present his Ruby-based version of Dial-a-Song.

This event is free and open to the public, and we encourage anyone interested in Twilio, Python/Ruby, Soundscapes, or even They Might Be Giants to attend!

When: 7:00PM-8:30, Thursday, January 14
Where: HacDC Space, 1525 Newton St NW, Washington DC 20010
Cost: Free and Open to the Public!


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