Visualising Twitter Conversations in 3D Space

Here's set of visualisation I've been working on. Last night, at #TapIntoTwitter, I demonstrated a fun way to view your Twitter conversations as a force-directed graph in 3D space. I'm going to show it off to you, then explain how it works. This is a designed as a "fun" demo. Here we go!

So, what's going on? As I've previously blogged about, Twitter has a new conversations API. That allows you to get Tweet replies in a tree-like structure.

A small conversation looks something like this:

A small conversation.

You can see that the initial tweet gets a lot of attention - many first level replies. Then, some of those tweets spawn other, longer threads.

People occasionally delete their tweets. This means some branches of the conversation are orphaned. Which gives us this wonderful set of constellations.

Some missing Tweets.

In this example, the more retweets a tweet has - the larger its radius.

Big splodges of red connected by puilsing white lines.

In this example, there are a chain of Tweets. While the first Tweet in the chain has the most replies and retweets - the rest of the thread is also heavily trafficked.
A long chain of Tweets.
Those Tweets on the right get plenty of love!

Finally, here's a thread of over 200 tweets from a popular account:

Big glowing starscape.

The first couple of tweets attract a lot of attention, and some parts of the conversation branch off into their own little trees.

You can play with these visualisations:

A few points to note:

  • This is a demo. It may break entirely or perform badly.
  • The code is open source, and built on lots of open source components,
  • The Twitter conversation API only works on tweets sent in the last 7 days. So you can't use this on older threads.
  • Large conversations take a long time to load and can be slow to render.


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