On February 11, nearly three weeks of protests in Egypt culminated with the country's president of 30 years finally stepping down. The day before, then-president Hosni Mubarak was expected to make his announcement and much of the Twittersphere was abuzz in expectation. When he didn't step down, the Web erupted.
Before he ever said a word, however, Stanford computer science graduate student Rio Akasaka pointed his server at Twitter and captured every Tweet with the word Mubarak and turned it into a video of Tweets around the world.
Calling his project Twitter Dots, Akasaka isn't brand new to the business of analyzing Tweets. Last year, shortly after the earthquakes in Haiti, Akasaka created Project Haiti, which gathered Tweets in a similar manner and animated them on a global map. With Project Haiti, each dot connected directly to a Tweet that, when hovered over, displayed the actual content of the Tweet.
This new project, which Akasaka just started last week, began with looking at Mubarak's declaration that he would not be stepping down. "Watch for the flurry of activity around 13:00 PST (23:00 Egypt local time), just about the time the speech ended with his declaration that he in fact would not be stepping down," Akasaka explains. Take a look:
Aksaka explained the method for creating the video a bit on his blog.
"These points were retrieved using Twitter's Streaming API and contained a total of 123,000 tweets, of which approximately 80,000 were successfully geocoded based on the tweeter's self-reported location," he writes.
He explained the method a bit more to us in an email.
The method involves using the Twitter streaming API and a commandline execution of PHP, which grabs the tweets and parses them into a MySQL database. The work done by 140dev.com has been largely helpful. As they go in I send a request to TinyGeocoder to get the latitude and longitudes of the user-defined coordinates, and then draw them on a map.
Since then, Akasaka has said that he plans on "churning out daily videos and making interesting conclusions," such as yesterday's "24 hours of Good Morning" video, which watches Tweets from around the world with the words "good morning." It's interesting to watch the dots light up the map as if it were the sun rising.
Today's project, a real-time search for the word "valentine", may have proven too much for Akasaka's server, as the regular TwitterDots domain appears to be down, if intermittent at best. For now, take a look at his TwitterDots Posterous and keep an eye out for new and interesting Twitter visualizations.