Twopical is an interface to Twitter Discussions. It listens to tweets that contain a given keyword (or set of keywords) and it displays the topics that emerge from the discussion by visualizing them in real time.
The outcome of the visualization is a map of the semantic space of the Twitter discussion: topics that are usually cited together appear close to each other, popular topics increase their visual relevance in the representation, forgotten topics that are no longer part of the discussion slowly disappear, and old topics that have always been present in the visualization get more and more stable over time.
Objective of the interface is to give an overview of the current discussion taking place in twitter around a certain theme, in terms of recurrent words and affinity between these emerging topics. This experiment has been developed in the context of a research residency at IMéRA (Institut méditerranéen de recherches avancées) in Marseille (France), in the context of a research on the representation of dynamical networks. Starting from some reflections on the availability of digital traces of “conversations” in social media, the research team explored possible strategies for the representation of a conversation about about a given topic on the Twitter micro-blogging system. Several techniques were deployed to extract the meaning out of the noisy stream of Twitter data, and prototypes were developed with the goal of representing the discussion space and the activity of users in this space.
While a final version of the project could not be completed during the IMéRA residency, the prototype designed at IMèRA has later been further developed and it was eventually used to map the Twitter semantic landscape at the McLuhan Galaxy 2011 Conference in Barcelona (Spain). Currently, the concept is under further development in order to explore different directions in the representation of dynamic spaces defined by semantic networks and human interactions.