Tweetsabers of News Revolution across the globe #MozNewsLab

After Amanda Cox’s lecture I was too pepped up to do some quick and sexy data visualization. In my daily life, I rely on R or GNUPlot for doing all my plots, simply because of their scripting interface. I have played a bit with Google chart and visualization api and they are absolutely brilliant. I’m planning to get my hands dirty with matplotlib (yep, yep … Python!).

So mid way into the re-listening the lecture, I was overpowered by this feeling of doing some global data visualization. One of the best global data visualization tool that have left an impression on my mind, is the WebGL Globe – an open platform from Google Data Arts Team. I grabbed the example code from here and with a simple Python script collected Twitter activities during the first week of #MozNewsLab into a .json file. Some simple changes to the sample javascript code and there you have colored light sabers shooting out from the globe.

The main problem was the twitter api limit – a meager 125 queries per hour. So I had to rely on the geo-location data that I had scraped earlier for mapping #MozNewsLab participants in the world map. That allowed me to narrow down the geo location queries for those who were not a participant of #MozNewsLab. In case the geo-location info was not available on their twitter profile, those homeless tweet counts were assigned to our dear Lab co-lead Phillip Smith.

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