April 13, 2012

Where do Tweets come from?

Last week, we posted a map of all georeferenced tweets mentioning the #Kony video. The patterns were interesting, but not entirely unexpected.

A more interesting question though, would be to see what percentage of all tweets from each country reference #kony, in order to get a better sense of how focused people were on the event. However, to do that, we need to figure out how much content in Twitter actually comes from each country.

Mark and Devin Gaffney collected all georeferenced tweets sent between March 5 and March 13 (it is important to point out that we are only dealing with a very small percentage of total tweets here [less than 1%], and so there may be significant geographic biases in where/how people georeference their content). We then took a random 20% sample of that dataset: giving us about 4.5 million tweets that we spatially joined to countries. The results are below:


(countries are on the x-axis)



The bar chart shows us the degree of inequality in where this content is coming from: with people in a few countries producing the bulk of content, and then a very long tail of countries from which very little content is produced.

Interestingly though, it is not just the usual suspects that are producing the bulk of content. The top six tweeters are:

(1) USA
(2) Brasil
(3) Indonesia
(4) UK
(5) Mexico
(6) Malaysia

Only two of the countries on that list are in the Global North and traditional hubs of the production of codified knowledge. What does this all tell us then? It is possible that Twitter is truly allowing for a 'democratisation' of information production and sharing because of its low barriers to entry and adaptability to mobile devices.

However, we need to do more work in this area to really figure out where content is coming from in the platform. Our sample in this post was limited, and more importantly we are still only dealing with georeferenced tweets that make up less than 1% of the total content that passes through the platform. An interesting start nonetheless.

**We'll post the Kony map normalised by the number of tweets in each country soon.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting stuff! But how does the distribution of the 1% geo-tweets compare to the other 99%? I doubt they are a proxy for all sheep.
    But more importantly: how do we encourage (trick) the other 99% into turning on their locators ...

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