A Chat With Bitlyopath, The Winners Of The Bitly Hackathon!

A few weekends ago we ‘Hacked to the Future’ during a one-day hackathon at bitly HQ, hosted by bitly and Sociocast.

After several hours hacking away at the Sociocast and bitly APIs, the Winner of Best Overall Project was awarded to the six person team, Bitlyopath. Their hack, which you can check out here, used the bitly and Sociocast APIs to find bursting phrases that were music related and used these searches to call YouTube videos featuring that song or artist.

We were able to sit down with the entire team; Mike Caprio, Jonathan Roberts, Gina Maini, Matthew Zadrozny, Juan Müller, and Maria Mendez to learn more about Bitlyopath, the team behind the hack, and their interest in the bitly API. home page, complete with Gina’s Evil Beethoven illustration.

Tell us more about Bitlyopath and how you used the bitly and sociocast API.

Jonathan: We thought it would be nice to take trending news from bitly and filter that to create a playlist for the news right now. We used the bitly API for bursting and hot links to get an idea of trending topics and the sociocast API to get a deep profile of what each story was about, giving us keywords and categories. The bitly story API gave us phrases to tie to a story, which were passed into the Rovi API to get song recommendations.

How did you come up with the idea for Bitlyopath?

Gina: I stood up and said I wanted to do something with music and we were all sort of jiving off on that. At some point, Mike said the word playlist and that was something concrete so we thought “we can do this.” That’s when the project became more real.

What were some highlights from the day?

Jonathan: When Gina put together the awesome sketch of Evil Beethoven [for the site homepage] I was thinking yeah that’s good – we can knock this out.

Gina:  I had previously done hackathons as a designer still learning programming. Being in the eye of the storm with all these amazingly talented people around me was awesome. It was a whimsical/hectic last couple of hours.

Juan: It was very refreshing [working with this team], I felt very well taken care of regarding the skills on the table and I knew we didn’t have to stress because something cool was going to happen regardless. The biggest highlight of the whole day was finding out that Jonathan designed the Game of Thrones maps.

Gina: Yes, and how casually it came up. He was like “Oh by the way I’m the cartographer for Game of Thrones.” I took a departure emotionally for about an hour.


What did you take away from the hackathon?

Mike: I’m pretty excited about future uses of the bitly API, I think it’s really exciting that bitly is providing these new tools and insights. I’ve always wondered about bitly’s view on the world in terms of social search and trending topics. I’m anticipating that some really great projects will be built from these APIs.

Jonathan: It’s great to work with a group of people you haven’t met and see the cool tools they use in day to day work. I learned about a new javascript library and a load of things that people use to work on projects with. It’s a great way to pick up new things.

Interested in learning more about the hackathon? Sociocast wrote a great recap post about the entire day, which you can read here.

Interested in playing around with the bitly API on your own? Get started at and check out our quick start guide here. Stay tuned for more data-rich APIs from bitly in the near future!

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