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January 20, 2013 / carlispina

Create an Interactive Tweet Archive with TAGSExplorer

Twitter can be a great tool for professional development, but for popular hashtags it can be difficult to keep up with all of the information that is available. Particularly for events such as conferences, creating an archive of all the tweets associated with the event hashtag can help with this process. While there are many tools available to create such an archive (you can find five examples in this great post by Joanne Alcock), the Twitter Archiving Google Spreadsheet (TAGS) created by Martin Hawksey is a perfect option if you are interested in visualizing the data as you archive it because it works with the TAGSExplorer. Currently in beta, the TAGSExplorer is an interactive visualization of all of the tweets captured in the TAGS archive. As the image below shows, this tool not only shows all of the tweets, but also top hashtags, most frequent tweeters, those who are involved in the most conversations, and the ability to search through the archived tweets from the menu.

My Visualization of ALA Midwinter TweetsIn addition to all of this useful functionality, TAGS is also extremely easy to set up. Hawksey has created a template for the archive that is easy to copy as a new Google Doc. From there, archiving tweets is as easy as registering for an API key from Twitter and filling in the blanks with  this information per Hawksey’s step-by-step instructions. At this point, you have a working archive and can choose to consider yourself done. However, if you would like to create an interactive visualization that you can share with others at the event (or those who cannot attend the event), you can then use the URL for this Google Spreadsheet and Hawkey’s TAGSExplorer to create a web visualization of all of the tweets with a focus on how tweets are connected to one another as conversations.

Using these tools, I was able to create an archive of tweets related to ALA’s upcoming Midwinter meeting (hashtag: #alamw13) and visualize it using the TAGSExplorer in about 15 minutes. You can see the visualization here. Following Hawksey’s very clear instructions made the process quick and easy and the visualization works extremely quickly so that you can navigate easily amongst tweets. As an added benefit, you also have the option to replay a conversation to see how the tweets flowed together. I look forward to seeing how the tool will work as the conference tweets increase in volume next weekend, but so far I have been impressed with this option for Twitter archiving and visualization.

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