John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
All the tweets in the world glimmer in this entrancing visualization of real-time tweets.
Well, lookee here: Someone's built a map of lost time... er, tweeting.
This visualization of the planet lit up by legions of blipping fireflies is a real-time indicator of where people are using Twitter. The tweet count starts the minute you open the page; a dashboard at the bottom cites the number of words and characters per tweet (also shown as gray lines in the equalizer-looking areas) as well as recent hashtags like #carnivale2013 and #PostPeriodBitching. (South and North America, respectively, but you probably guessed that.)
The least-tweeting continent by far is Africa, which represents maybe 5 percent of the bulk worldwide volume. There, most of the activity pours forth from Nigeria and its immediate surroundings, with people interjecting hashtags like #أنا_أحبك and #تب. (If anybody knows what those mean, tweet me.) North America is the clear leader in twittering away the day. The continent accounts for more than one-third of the planet's tweet traffic and is consistently enriching the global social-media conversation with subjects like #ughh, #pissed, #majorturnons and #teamlebron.
This entrancing cartography, created by Paris-based programmer Franck Ernewein, by and large mirrors those nighttime satellite shots of city lights captured by NASA. That's obviously because population centers are where people are tweeting the most, but there are a couple differences. Because the map logs tweets by geolocation data, countries that rely heavily on Twitter apps for mobile phones appear especially busy (take a look at Indonesia). And areas where you would expect tons of virtual light, like sizable Russia cities and Japan, will look ominously dark when it's near dawn and people are sleeping, their fingers twitching out a REM staccato of dream-tweeting.
(H/t to Design Collector.)