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A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Tweets

This is a visual representation of the Moscow metro bombing discussion on Twitter. It is a word cloud of 1000 random tweets from the #moscow hashtag (which saw a five fold increase after the bombings) based on research we’re doing with the Sam Gilbert and the Web Ecology Project. We are still working through #metro29 and other hashtags that were more popular among Russian language Twitter users. Turns out it’s pretty hard to say anything too original in 140 characters.

And for comparison, here’s a word cloud representing the discussion on the bombings in the US and Russian press, drawn from the full text of 68 articles related to the bombing from Johnson’s Russia List. Both clouds were created with Wordle.

This is intended mostly as a fun experiment as we build more accurate tools to make these type of inter platform comparisons, but it is still pretty striking to see how limiting Twitter can be when trying to tell a story. In any case, it is still far better than Russian TV news.

Update: I replaced an earlier Twitter cloud to strip out the date, which I think was a cut and paste error on my part, since that doesn’t appear in the text of the Tweets.

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2 Responses to “A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Tweets”

  1. Joanna Bryson Says:

    I think what you have illustrated clearly here is that twitter indexing requires repeating certain key terms in every post, so really you have less than 140 characters for the actual story after you have first provided a “handle” for your readers to find you. Newspapers are indexed by their layout so do not have the same “keyword pop-out”. However, this fails to really compare the content of the stories. If you take the top six words out of twitter, or you rescale the data on a log scale, you may get more similar figures.

  2. Sheryl James Says:

    I had always wondered why twitter had restrict user till 140 characters, some times i do have stories more than that, and i enjoy on my BlackBerry to tweet it but this restriction o not allow.
    May be in future twitter may allow some more spaces, any how its a good thing to use.