Friday, February 13, 2009


It remains to be seen whether Twitter is simply another passing tech-fad, the ultimate voyeuristic experiment, or a herald of something far more disturbing to come. Clearly, it's the height of obsessive narcissism and a cry out for social comfort in the deafening loneliness of our time - oh wait, that's blogging. Regardless, I'm not one to care much about people's micro-updates ("I'm taking a crap!" "I'm eating a burrito!" "I'm having sex with your girlfriend!") on an individual level, but once you start letting me compile data from thousands of cyberhipsters (did I just coin that term?) I might start thinking Twitter is a scientific tool.

Twist (or Twitter Trends) allows you to see the % of twitters that mention particular words over the course of a week or month. So, for example, if you type in "Darwin," you'll see a peak (nearly 1% of twitters) yesterday around 10:00am. Boring.

I'm more curious about cursing frequency. So, for kicks, I put in "fuck," "shit," and "cat" (my control group). These are the data:

(click for larger image)

So there's clearly a circadian pattern in use of both fuck and shit. The vertical gray lines represent midnight, so the daily peaks for these two words occur around midnight or soon thereafter (I am assuming that these times are "local" to the person tweeting). Also, the weekly peak for "fuck" and "shit" occurs right around midnight between Sunday and Monday. Why don't I find that surprising.

Twist also lets you see some of the Tweets it's sampling. Here are some examples from my experiment for you to ponder and contemplate:

"my roommates show up with groceries and start cooking lunch as soon as i start recording. fuck the kitchen. i wish i still lived alone"

"So angry, gonna punch a cat inna mouf. Fuck yeah."
(this one contributed to 2 of my trends - amazing!)

"When one of these rap niggas finally kills another rap nigga, I'm going to be RIGHT THERE to say, 'I AINT SEE SHIT.'" (Damn!)

"When you install an Adobe product, they really put so much shit on your computer you don't want."

True that.

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