The premise behind HereFeed is simple enough: It provides a visual map of the things going on around you. It works by cribbing Instagram photos geotagged to specific locations, and indicates where the buzz is with big, pink bubbles. Clicking on those bubbles pulls up the most recent pictures uploaded.
Certainly, there is no shortage of discovery tools to find new places to eat, drink, or shop. But part of what makes HereFeed such an intriguing resource is that its pink bubbles populate in real time. Like, real time real time.
"It is up to the minute," HereFeed's creator, Ryan Sit, tells Fast Company in an email. "The bubbles are sized by popularity, so sometimes older stuff is bigger because it was more popular. The new ones are shown in the stream below and the dot is there, but more popular ones are highlighted."
Sit, who lives in San Diego, is an entrepreneur who cofounded Science Inc., a technology investment firm in Santa Monica, and is former VP of social products at MySpace. He tells me he has been working on HereFeed in his spare time for the past several months. "Discovery is certainly a big part of it," he says. "It allows you to see your surroundings in a whole new depth. Not only real-time what is popular, but the people there. This richness hasn't been done before."
Indeed, HereFeed is a powerful tool for discovery that we haven't really seen yet. Photos allow you to get a visual idea of a restaurant's clientele or mood, rather than relying on someone's 300-word Yelp review. "When I started, I merely realized that now Instagram is the largest collection of public, structured/organized, local data," says Sit.
That said, some of it can be boring. (Naturally.) Here, for example, is what's popping off in my neighborhood in Brooklyn:
Other times, it can provide a valuable window into things around you that you otherwise would have had no idea about:
Or maybe you're just hungry:
The tool could also prove incredibly valuable for keeping up with news events happening in a targeted location. For example, here are some pictures from Sochi:
You can also get a look at life at Facebook HQ:
HereFeed arguably nails the trifecta of social indicators: A real-time heat map that's compellingly visual. Which, really, isn't a bad thing to spend your free time working on.
[Image: Flickr user Kamal Zharif Kamaludin]