Cool Toys pics of the day: Health Tweeder

Pixels & Pills: Health Tweeder:

The Health Tweeder is a data visualization tool with some
interactivity that maps posts from Twitter to various health topics.
It is very interesting, and attractive also, but (like other similar
tools) has the problem of not being able to disambiguate the
terminology from which it collects its data, making it more
interesting than accurate. This is a major challenge for anyone
collecting data from Twitter for research purposes.

In their own words:
“Using the laboratory that is social media and Twitter, we’re visually
and metaphorically … using petri dishes to culture cells of dialogue
on specific diseases states. Each cell in a petri dish represents a
distinct tweet that has been gathered using relevant disease search
terms, hashtags, and people we’ve identified to follow. Growing and
shrinking based on the volume of content at any one time, each dish,
and all of them combined – provide a dynamic view of disease state
dialogue in real time.”

Here is how it works. The first picture shows a number of petri dishes
of different colors that correspond with different topics. As you
mouse over either a petri dish or a term, a line appears between the
matching dish and term, and the display zooms in to appropriate dish,
with a sidebar on the right showing recent tweets.

The second image show the detail view, with an enlarged petri dish and
a panel on the right side that displays selected matching tweets. You
can shift the display to other tweets than the ones shown by
scrolling, selecting from the numeric menu below the tweets, or by
clicking on a selected “cell” within the petri dish.

Of the tweets displayed, if there was a link included in the tweet,
you can click on that link and it will open. Unfortunately, this
display does not offer an easy way to view the individual tweet back
in Twitter nor to follow the person or account tweeting, in case you
discover someone especially intriguing. This defeats the primary
reason I would use a tool like this, which would be to find and follow
specific interesting healthcare twitterers.

You might notice that the second image focuses on Psychiatry, showing
four tweets, of which two are on stress. Of the two on stress, one is
on psychological stress relief and management, which the second is on
tectonic or geologic stresses, two very different and incompatible
concepts for the purposes of this visualization. I like the
implementation of the visualization, but question, based on this
experience, if the comparative sizes of the petri dishes actually
reflects the comparative sizes of the domains of conversation.

So while this is beautiful, a wonderful concept, and very interesting,
it isn’t quite ready for prime time yet. I hope and expect it will
continue to grow and evolve. Pixels and Pills does ask for
suggestions, so it will only get better!


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