Last month, members of the indicrew travelled up to Waterloo, Canada for Hack the North 2015, where 1,000 students divided into teams had 36 hours to build awesome software or hardware projects. Diana, Chris, and Annie, (all sporting prominent wizard hats) were there to help these teams with any problems they had with their projects — indico-related or not.
Of the 28 stellar teams that used our API (so exciting!), Anish Walawalkar, Yifan Song, Kaivalya Gandhi, and Ayodeji Ige stole the show with their project, Pulse. The team received $500 in cash, $4000 worth of indico credits, and of course, our super popular retro t-shirts!
So, what is Pulse?
Today’s modern writer needs more than just markup to make their mark. In the name of free speech, how many times have we seen extreme opinions break even the best of authors? We understand the pain of predicting how a piece of writing comes across, and make it easy to get insights about your writing’s virality, political bias and even highlight top keywords using natural language processing (NLP).
Pulse is a Chrome extension that analyzes text from articles using the indico API and gives you a concise overview of views and biases.
- Keyword Highlighting
- Sentiment Analysis
- Topic Categorization
- Language Detection
- Political View Detection
We sat down with Yifan and Kaivalya at Hack the North, to learn more about their experiences at the hackathon, their inspiration for Pulse, and future plans for the project.
Tell us about your experience at Hack the North.
“Hack the North was actually my first hackathon ever. The first half of it was frustrating as our team was stuck on a few bugs that blocked development. However, Day Two went much more smoothly and we were even able to fine tune the different parameters when calling the API. Overall, I learnt a lot during these two days and had tons of fun.”
“Hack the North holds a special place in my heart – it was my first big hackathon, and also the birthplace of the Product Vision Club which I currently help run. After an exhilarating experience last year, I came in to Hack the North 2015 with two goals: meet as many awesome people as I can, and hack on something useful.”
What was the inspiration for Pulse?
“The idea to make use of text analytics came from my internship at Medallia this summer. During my internship, I learnt a lot from the text analytics team and developed an interest in this field. While talking to different Hack the North participants, the idea of applying text analytics to the field of journalism came up. At first, we thought about creating a simple text analytics engine during the hackathon, but indico’s API saved us from the trouble. That way, we were able to focus on developing a better product since we could rely on indico to handle the text analytics part for us.”
“Ever since I discovered Medium a few months ago, I was always inspired by the effort and thought that content producers put into their work. Being an avid reader, I always noticed how writers jumped on feedback and reactions on their content – for a lot of them, these interactions were a source of personal satisfaction. It gave them a sense of happiness and really is what kept them going. When I heard about the team’s ideas on performing text analysis for journalism, I was immediately intrigued. After having discovered the powerful machine learning tools provided by indico, we set out to build a tool around the idea.”
How did Pulse evolve throughout the hackathon, and what are your plans for its future?
“Initially, our focus was on providing readers high-level insights on the article they were on. However, after a few rounds of talking with the indico team and getting their feedback, we noticed that the idea could also help writers as a pre-publishing tool. We stayed up with almost no sleep to extend our hack for our newly found use-case – Chris and the entire indico crew were true wizards and helped us get through the strangest of front-end bugs even at 5am! I’m really excited about getting our hack out there to content producers soon, and we really hope to help them have more impact with their work!”
“We’re planning on developing the extension further. For now, before hosting it on the Chrome store, we need to host the server on a platform. It’s only running locally for now.”
The team is currently working towards building a platform that allows people to save the data that Pulse analyzes for future use, such as viewing improvement or changes in writing over time. They also intend to provide the results at a more granular level by showing the analysis for individual sentences and paragraphs as well, instead of just presenting the results for the whole article at once.
Keep an eye out for Pulse in the Google Chrome store in the coming months, and be sure to check out other awesome indico-powered hack projects in our gallery! Hackers, we’ll see you next at Hack Holyoke on November 6, 2015!
Got a project you want to share with us?
We’d love to heard about it! Share your story with us and inspire others to create more interesting applications. Email me at email@example.com.