Twitter: the Great Information Landfill

Image of trash

A vast majority of Tweets are trash. Complete and total trash.

  • “oh noes i fell and hurt my hand”
  • ” i love mac n cheese”
  • “Blah Corp would like to announce a new version version 3.14 of Barglware!”
  • “Go to http://ghsjklfdgh for a free iPad2”
But given enough trash, can be pull out something USEFUL? Note I’m asking about useful, not interesting. (How many cute kitten pics can you find through Twitter in 15 minutes?)
I’ve seen some tools to manage/rate your social media presence (“20% increase in tweets in the next month!”), tools to notify you when certain tweets are seen (“omg someone is talking about the pair of shoes I wear”), tools that list everything for a certain category (“see all tweets made about stinky feet”), etc.
What I don’t see enough of are applications that do anything useful. A 20% increase in trash is just more trash. Notification may help with connecting with customers, but is just another form customer support. A giant list of tweets is hard to process and you can’t get any general information.

What can we do to change this?

I decided to try something simple: lets see what words are used in the same tweets. Lets search Twitter for a given term, count each word, and display a graph based on how common each word is. Wishbone does this (try it out here).

Wishbone graph of Boulder; partial

We can get some interesting results. Searching for Boulder, CO (where I currently am), I can see that chatter about a fatal accident involving a pedestrian (the upper left). I can see something about about free yoga classes.

Useful? Don’t know. Closer to useful? I hope so.

Or a least a prettier landfill…