Twitter Data Visualization of #nerdpickuplines


I’m an avid Twitter user, and I was very interested in how the hashtag #nerdpickuplines spread, so I built a visualization to investigate it. I was interested in two questions:

  1. Who was responsible for the growth of the meme, a few extremely active users, or a much larger, but less active group?
  2. How much of the activity was original, versus simply retweeting (reposting) what someone else had Tweeted? Did the retweets create any subsequent growth?

Note: if you’re unfamiliar with Twitter, a “Tweet” is a post. For more information on Twitter, see Wikipedia.

To answer these questions I built the display as a network graph, with each dot representing a single user. The position of each dot is determined by the time they first tweeted. The color and size change depending on the mode the display is set to:

Mode Color #1 Color #2 Size represents
Original/Retweet Blue: Original Tweet Green: Retweet (repost) Number of Tweets by the user
Poster/Followed Black: This user Tweeted Red: Someone who follows this user Tweeted Number of users that follow this user and have Tweeted within the meme

As time advances, nodes appear (representing the user’s first Tweet within the hashtag), and then the color fades away; that way nodes which have recently Tweeted will be brighter than nodes which Tweeted long ago.

I had originally hoped to display all the information using only one mode, but it was so noisy it was incomprehensible.

The Visualization

You may need to enlarge your screen to see this.