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A Visual Exploration of Twitter Streams

Twitter streams are curious things, especially the spatial data part. I’ve been using Tweepy to collect tweets from the public timeline and what did I discover? Tweets can have up to three different spatial references: “coordinates”, “geo” and “place”. I’ll still have to do some more reading on how to interpret these different attributes.

For now, I have been using “coordinates” to explore the contents of a stream which was collected over a period of five hours using

stream.filter(follow=None,locations=(-180,-90,180,90))

for global coverage. In the video, each georeferenced tweet produces a new dot on the map and if the user’s coordinates change, a blue arrow is drawn:

While pretty, these long blue arrows seem rather suspicious. I’ve only been monitoring the stream for around five hours. Any cross-Atlantic would take longer than that. I’m either misinterpreting the tweets or these coordinates are fake. Seems like it is time to dive deeper into the data.

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2 comments
  1. kxtells said:

    Looks really nice. How did you produce the video?

    • The video frames were generated using pyprocessing, a python port of the popular processing framework. Then I used mencoder to create the final video by stitching the frames together.

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