Monday, April 2, 2012

Fun with Twitter Visualizations for NAM2012

I seem to be becoming an advocate of the use of Twitter for researchers (more on that after this year's dotAstro). So it might surprise you to learn I was a massive skeptic at first and only signed up under protest! ;) But the more time I spend on Twitter the more I appreciate the tool it provides to connect people (which in my case are generally astronomers).

 Anyway, one of the fun things about Twitter is the archive/visualizations you can make of a given search term. I did some of this with tweets from the UK National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester last week, which were tweeted with the hashtag #NAM2012.

 By it's nature Twitter is transitory, so some of these visualizations won't last - for example the Graph of People Recently Tweeting #NAM2012 will be blank soon, but you can visit the link and put in the search term of your choosing.

This archive will remain, but I set it up late, so it only represents the last couple of days of NAM - and note to self, to set up such archives early for the next meeting. This service can only collect the last 500 tweets of a hashtag.

(And I should do a shoutout to Doug_Burke, a British astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics for sending me the links to these services which he has previously used to collect AAS tweets).

Because of that limitation I was tempted to get a bit more technical and tried downloading all Tweets with #NAM2012 before they disappeared. Thanks to dotastro I am confident/crazy enough to give this a go. I Googled for help, and found these instructions: Twitter: How to archive event hashtags and create an interactive visualization of the conversation which I followed to set up a Google spreadsheet collecting #NAM2012 tweets. This could get the last 1500 (which is Twitters limit, nothing to do with the code), which on Thursday meant tweets back to about Tuesday night at NAM (so not all, but most of them). I then set it up to display them in a NAM2012 visualization at TAGSexplorer. I think this will keep updating until I turn it off which I will do in a couple of days once all the NAM news stories are gone. 

 Hope you enjoy them. Try exploring the tweet timeline for a given users in the last one - hit play for a fun movie. :)

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