InstaO – a real-time Instagram photo stream at the University of Oregon

Using a public, real-time Instagram API, I built this to pull photos within a few kilometers of campus and display them in a real-time stream. For a picture to show up, the user has to have a public profile and enable geotagging for the picture.

We think it’s cool, providing an instant snapshot of what’s happening all around us on campus. But it also has sparked some debate about privacy and copyright. Most importantly, we want to know what you – our users – think about it.

How do you feel about it? Let us know in the comments below, send us an email at or share your thoughts on Twitter with #emeraldinstao.

If you’re interested in how it works, check out this post.

  • Guest

    I feel like although it might be a little bit interesting to look at, ultimately it’s pretty useless. Neat idea though.

    • Guest2

       I disagree, I think it’s really fun. I like uploading pictures and knowing it’ll show up in a UO (or at least Eugene)-specific place.

  • Lauren

    I like it and I think it’s reasonable. 

    The legality in terms of privacy was already discussed and confirmed, so I think the remaining concern is whether or not it’s ethical. 

    From my perspective, it is ethical because people are already publishing their photos publicly. Others have said that Instagram users may not intend for their photos to be seen like this, but to me, the combination of a public profile and enabled geotagging is enough to indicate that people are OK with their pictures being seen. If I was concerned that my photos would be shared, I wouldn’t make them so easy to find. As with people who make their Facebook albums and Twitter feeds public, I assume that they are fine with anyone accessing their information, otherwise they’d take care to protect it. That, or they wouldn’t publish it in the first place. 

    Right now, the InstaO feed shows a girl exhaling smoke and her face is identifiable. I could easily see someone arguing that this girl wouldn’t want that to be displayed in this stream, but she tagged “#smoke #smokecloud #puffing #girlswhosmokeweed #frenchinhale #medical #bongrip # bonghit #yum #follow #followme” which is about as obvious as it gets in assuming that she’s alright with others seeing this image. 

    I suppose there will always be those who say they didn’t know and therefore it’s not fair, but I think the Internet and social meda has been around long enough for people to consider the implications of what they choose to put online before they post. If not, then I guess InstaO is a reminder to do so. 

    The project is not intended to be sneaky and its purpose is not to portray people poorly or to gather their information manipulate them. And actually, in response to the comment below about it being useless, I don’t think that’s completely true. 

    From a journalistic standpoint, there are a lot of potentially useful and interesting things that could come from this. It gives viewers an idea of what’s going on in their community. Clearly, the self-portraits and stuff aren’t that interesting to most, but come Game Day and stuff, things may seem more relevant. Along those lines, it could turn out to be useful in measuring the communities reactions to events, etc. With so many people taking pictures on their phones these days, it’s also likely that people in and around Eugene will take pictures of newsworthy things that the Emerald staff may not be around to shoot (lesser quality spot-news photos where it’s impossible to plan or predict an event). 

    This is longer than I meant for it to be, so I’ll stop here, but I’m on board with the project. My initial reaction was more skeptical, but thinking about it, I don’t have an issue with it. 

    • Ivar Vong

      Thanks for the detailed reply, Lauren!

      • Lauren

        Had time to collect thoughts during the initial fb debate, plus figured this is where they should live, mostly. 

        Plus I anticipated and avoided 40+ notifications intended for you :) 

    • Dave Allen


      I think that you make a lot of assumptions in your comment regarding use of people’s Instagram photos. When I couple that thought with your position that “there are a lot of potentially useful and interesting things that could come from this” I wonder if you’d mind elaborating? 

      In the Digital Strategy class I teach at U of O I have some very pertinent questions that have to be asked and answered before embarking on any digital project:

      What problem does it solve?
      Who will use this?
      How will they find it?
      Why will they use it?
      What’s its value?

      Once answered, those questions will provide you with some decent digital strategy. Then you can focus on User Experience.

      Meanwhile don’t expect the web or digital to solve a problem. Find the problem, and solve it.

  • ABerry5

    if your profile is public no clue how anyone can be mad.. if you didn’t know that your profile is public or that thought process never crossed your mind you are an absolute social networking idiot that should not have created an account