Mapping in the Twitter age

27 Feb

Once in a while, wacky ideas burst into the public domain. Einstein, smoking, Tweeting. But we think there’s a new introduction to be made – Floating Sheep.

Lead by Dr Matthew Zook from the University of Kentucky and Dr Mark Graham of the Oxford Internet Institute, a host of talented geography students from the USA created a new way of visualising the tool that unites the world – and often divides opinion. Through extrapolating keywords on Twitter, the university cool kids create a Twitter heatmap to show who’s talking about what, and where the action is taking place – whether in a specific country or across the globe.

The most popular data mapping project to have struck a cord in the UK was the recent interactive map highlighting the most popular Premier League teams in every postcode. From Inverness to Cornwall, courtesy of the Floating Sheep team, football fans can now settle tribal in-fighting. Surprisingly, the long-held assumption that Manchester United fans dominate the south rather than their native north is shown to be slightly false.

We think that the best heatmaps will set your pulses alight. Who wins the battle of faith on Twitter? Does sex outstrip religion in the war of words? Floating Sheep dish the dirt once and for all.

Racist tweets towards Barack Obama in the 2012 US election, mapped by Floating Sheep

Racist tweets towards Barack Obama in the 2012 US election, mapped by Floating Sheep

If analysis is a science, and design is an art, then we can definitely claim Floating Sheep to be truly mindboggling for bloggers. The rise of data visualisation will give us more questions than answers. On the whole, datavisualisation and the great Floating Sheep project could provide more answers than our politicians.  It sure shows the geeks can have more fun.

For a comprehensive analysis – and more maps, check out Floating Sheep.


Other inventive uses of mapping:

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