Tag Archives: twitter

Mapping Perth’s tweets

Following on from my previous post, another fun tool to have a play with is One Million Tweets. Whilst the apps I demonstrated in the previous post mapped Instagram images, this web-based tool plots – you guessed it – Twitter posts in real time:


For me, it raises a whole lot of questions about privacy and how much information users really want to be sharing when they’re online – and whether users know how much information they actually are sharing when they post content. I monitor the location data I share with the network; sometimes I’ll turn it on (for example, if I’m at a restaurant and have eaten something fantastic, I might post a photo to Instagram that is geotagged so that anyone searching that restaurant can see it; another way that I use geotags is when uploading holiday photos to Flickr, so that I can keep track of where a particular image was captured), but most of the time it’s off. I’m not even particularly concerned about privacy or security – I just believe that part of being an engaged digital citizen is being aware of the contributions you are actually making.

You can sit there and watch located tweets populated the map on a global scale, or you can manually drill-down to get a closer look:



Or even a bit closer:


Or right down to street level:


The nosey creature in me finds this kind of thing absolutely fascinating, but the sensible human being in me is very cautious of information being geolocated right down to the street number. As I mentioned, it all comes back to what you’re willing to share – keeping in mind that, due to networked identities (i.e. distributing your online practices across a number of platforms and services), you’re often going to post content to one platform, but syndicate it to others.

This certainly isn’t an exercise in fear mongering but it’s worth thinking about.

On the other hand, I really love having the ability to see what people are tweeting about, and where they’re tweeting from. It adds to a rich digital landscape that ultimately makes the city more useful to me. The information we share contributes to a virtual network of information that could be said to lay over the top of our real world; that is, there’s much more to the places we occupy than buildings and services. At our fingertips, we have access to a world of information, from restaurant menus to user reviews and recommendations. This all adds to the effectiveness of the social map of our city that we perpetually refine.

Publicly rambling about Twitter and geography and Perth and what not.

I’ve just heard that the abstract I submitted to present at Twitter and microblogging: Political, personal, and professional practices has been accepted. Yay!

I’m not 100% sure if I will go yet as there are a handful of others (in New York, Paris, and Helsinki) that I am waiting to hear about, and I can’t afford to do them all, but it’s exciting nonetheless. As a friend said, at least being accepted means that my work is of interest to someone, and acceptance means I’m probably going in the right direction with the discussions and ideas I’m putting forward.

The conference is in Lancashire, which is a part of England I haven’t seen in a very long time. The past couple of times I’ve been to Europe I haven’t ventured out of London, so it would be cool to see another part of the country. At the same time, I’m really keen to go to places I’ve never been before (see aforementioned locations) so I guess I’ll wait and see for another week or two before I commit to anything.

I’ve attached a link to my abstract if you’re at all interested to know what I will be talking about if I do end up going. It’s a bit of a sketchy idea (as they always are – I’m sure I’m not the only person who often forgets about abstract due dates until they’re really close!) but I think it’s something I will be able to develop into a pretty cool presentation. My last conference was in July 2009 (woah!) and I had only been teaching for a few months, so I’m actually really keen to go with three more years of public speaking experience and see how that changes my approach to presenting. I actually quite enjoy speaking in front of groups of people but I just had no idea what I was doing last time, so hopefully this year’s conferencing will be a little less nerve wracking and a little more polished.

Twitter and microblogging

Social media demographics: Not just loudmouth ignorant kids, after all.

Pingdom released data a month ago charting the demographics of various social media platforms, and it’s an interesting read.

There is a very real negativity when it comes to social media, with many people assuming that it’s destroying our youth and creating a generation of ignorant, anti-social zombies who have no ability to communicate face-to-face and little interest in anything other than posting endless selfies on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Not so, critics.

One of the most interesting things from my perspective is that this study is that more than 50% of social media users are aged between 25-44. At 28 years of age I slot in at the lower end of this age group, and I must stick up for my demographic category when I say that I’m certainly not part of a disconnection generation.

Then again, I grew up offline.

The age groups younger than mine – 0-17 and 18-24 – possibly didn’t have that luxury. Many of them don’t remember a world without the Internet, and more significantly, a world without broadband, which has allowed instant and persistent connectivity. However, I refuse to believe that lifelong Internet use has has a negative impact upon these people. In fact, I firmly believe that growing up in this era of digital ubiquity has created a generation of people who intrinsically understand technology and how to process information. They’re a generation that know more about the world than we, and those who came before us, ever did.

Sure, they sometimes post stupid things online and forget that the written word is markedly different to spoken ephemera, but I’d like to speak to the person who didn’t do something silly in their youth and have to learn a harsh lesson from their actions.

The widespread cynicism over social development amongst smartphoned young people is another thing that bothers me. Critics seem to forget something fairly major about the perma-connected youth of today: they still do things like attend school and hold down casual jobs. They still have families and friends. This means that they’re still interacting with people on a daily basis. The fact that they might seem endlessly engaged in a Facebook conversation doesn’t mean that they’re not learning to engage with others. It might just be that they’re engaging in a different way.

I refuse to believe in the myth of the selfish, distracted youth of today. Sure, sometimes you get shitty service in stores or some snot-nosed kid pushes in front of you in line, but guess what? That’s pretty much every group of teenagers, ever, since the invention of teenagers themselves. The only different is that we’re getting older and more critical, just like every other generation has done before us.

Back to the study, though. There are more people using social media between the ages of 45-54 than there are between the ages of 18-24. Think about that. Yes, it’s a bigger age group (10 versus 7 years), but it suggests that social media is far more embedded into our parents’ daily Internet use than they’d like to believe. Even sites like Facebook – long considered the bastion of youthful irresponsibility online – has far more ages in the 45-54 age bracket than it does in the 18-24.

Perhaps, just maybe, the youth of today aren’t as stupid and shallow as we like to think they are.

A fraction of Perth bloggers, in colour.

I’ve collected in excess of 300 subjects in my list of Perth bloggers, and am up to the letter ‘F’ in plotting them. I’m using Gephi for the visualisation, and despite a rocky start (i.e. me having no idea what I was doing) I’ve now got the hang of it and it’s starting to look pretty damn cool!

Probably the craziest thing is that this list just keeps on growing – I’m probably discovering 20 new blogs a day, at least, but I’m only plotting those that are active bloggers (i.e. have posted within the last year and posted regularly before that, and user another platform – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, etc – as well as blogging). What that means is that there are potentially hundreds more.

Every dot on this graph represents a blogger, and every line is a link in or out of that blog (you might be able to see the tiny arrows pointing the direction). The dots change size as they attract more inward or outward links. The colours are significant too – the pink ones are fashion bloggers, the purple are food bloggers, pale blue are lifestyle bloggers, etc. This is going to change so there’s not too much point going in to it here; it’s just an easy way for me to keep track of what’s going on.

There are labels, too, so I know which dot represents which blogger, but I’ve kept them hidden to protect the identities of the geeky ;)

Including this data in my thesis in visual form is a bit of a gimmick – I could just provide a bunch of stats and numbers – but I feel that it’s really helpful to be able to see what networks look like. Not all blogs are equal, and not all share equal involvement in the blogging community. Of course, this data simply represents the network at this stage; it says nothing about the quality of content (not that I really get to be the judge of this!), how popular the blogs are (a blog may have few inward links but be read by a significant number of people, and certain genres are more generally popular than others), but it’s a good start. I’ll be doing the same thing with some other networks too, particularly Twitter, as Twitter has stolen a lot of blogging’s thunder in recent years.

Tim Highfield from Curtin has been a massive help with pointing me in the right direction on this one. Check out some of the stuff he’s done with visualisations – his look way cooler than mine.

If you’ve ended up here via Twitter…

Hi everyone!

If you’ve ended up here via Twitter, there’s a fair chance you responded to my tweet for Perth bloggers, so I thought I’d write up a little bit about what I’m doing.

I’m in the final stages of my PhD, and writing up the thesis is… an adventure, to say the least.

Basically, I’ve been observing a whole heap of Perth blogs for the past four years with varying degrees of commitment (often not much), but as I’m nearing the final stages of writing up I really need some hard data to back up my ramblings.

That’s where you come in.

In the initial stages I’m going to compile a list of bloggers (which I will make available here if anyone is interested). Then, I’ll be looking at which other platforms they’re using: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and so on.

I’m going to use a pretty snazzy open-source software called Gephi to plot the connections that exist between the people whose blogs I’ve been following. So I’ll track links between blogs, links between Twitter feeds, links between Facebook pages, etc. until eventually I should have some pretty awesome visualisations of what Perth’s online community looks like.

I will update here over the coming weeks with what is going on, but if you would like to know anything more please feel free to email me or leave a comment here.

A note about how I am using this information

I won’t be doing anything unethical with your information. Nothing will be made public that is not already public online. If you do not use your real name online, your name won’t appear online or in my thesis. I certainly will not be publishing anything like personal contact details.

If you would prefer not to be involved, just contact me and I will take you off the public list (and remove you from my research data altogether).