Art, imagery, graphs, and maps help place context and a visual component to numbers, locations, and data. Twitter (), the ultimate collection of 140-character thoughts and data, does not come with image sharing, video embedding, or almost any other visual feature. However, it does come with an API and hundreds of people developing Twitter applications all the time.
When reading the Twitter stream becomes stale or repetitive, try using some useful and fun Twitter applications that visualize trends, map out locations, or just please the senses. These are a few of the most unique and innovative visualizations of the Twitter stream:
Monitter is a real-time visualization of of Twitter trends. Type in keywords and see tweets as they occur. It’s the ultimate way to keep informed at a conference (i.e. #SXSW) or to see retweets in action. Monitter also provides geographic searches of tweets and the ability to turn the stream into an RSS feed.
Twittearth is a 3D model of tweets from around the world. It pulls an assortment of tweets and visualizes them on a globe, even making sure to differentiate between day and night. Overall it is a simple mashup with less features than some other map-based Twitter visualizations (see #4), but it is entertaining to watch the tweeting world spin around nonetheless.
TwitterThoughts is an advanced tool and mashup that visually graphs Twitter trends based on a variety of factors, such as number of tweets and followed total. It takes its information from a sample subset of Twitter accounts. The data can be complicated to work with, but it is a unique way to visualize data on Twitter. It also comes with a world Twitter map and a list of recent top Twitter trends.
Twittervision is another geographic visualization of tweets from around the world. It has both 2D and 3D visualization, as well as integration with Facebook (). It even has its own API so that others can easily publish locations and statuses through Twittervision.
Twitter StreamGraphs is another data-based visualization of Twitter trends. Instead of loading bar charts or line items, it uses stream graphs to display words and tags associated with a keyword, based on a thousand recent tweets. It’s especially adept at visualizing tweets over time and can visualize the top keywords of any individual tweeter.
Pepsi’s SXSW Twitter Visualizer is a strange and constantly animated visualization of chatter at the 2009 South by Southwest Conference (SXSW). It pulls recent tweets, graphs how many people are eating, drinking, or registering for the conference, and even has a party tracker. The principles behind this visualization could be useful for not only other conferences, but for any major event.