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October 23, 2012

Twitter and Big Data: What's in a Tweet?

From gossip stream to on-the-ground reporting for natural disasters to marketing campaign platform, Twitter plays a major role in detailing everyday life. With 1 billion Tweets sent every 72 hours from over 140 million active users, Twitter is more than just a micro-blogging platform: it's become a source for big data on an individual, regional, national, and worldwide level.

Last Friday, we were very excited to hold a live Q&A on Twitter with Twitter's very own Isaac Hepworth (@IsaacH). Isaac has an engineering background and works for the Media team at Twitter. In his spare time, he looks at "what Twitter data can tell us about how feedback loops drive behavior", among other adventures:

Isaac spent an hour with us sharing fascinating insights about Twitter and big data and how Twitter data has changed how we see, experience, and change the world around us. We started with a couple of fun icebreaker questions directly from our app and found out which country Isaac wants to visit not just once, but twice in his lifetime:

Politics has been a hot topic this season with an election between President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney just around the corner. From the "binders full of women" viral meme and Trending Topic to assessing changes in political sentiment in real-time with Twindex, Twitter has been prominently used in several different political events. Isaac's recent favorite?

Twitter's impact on health, another hot topic, saw some recent media exposure this past year when researchers found they could predict illnesses based on Twitter data:

We also loved hearing Isaac's insights into how Twitter has changed the face of television, marketing, and advertising, moving it away from a soapbox and more towards a conversation:

You can check out the full Twitter Q&A stream on #BigDataChat. Learn more about Twitter and big data on the Twitter blog and check out a great infographic about Twitter designed by Nigel Holmes (@nigelholmes) for The Human Face of Big Data book, available December 4, 2012. Be sure to download the Human Face of Big Data app on Android or iOS before November 20 to participate in our globally crowdsourced project and help measure our world.


Big Data ends where it begins — with people — when those numbers, generated by all of us, improve all our lives. The Human Face of Big Data tells the story of that circle, and your role in it. Big data is detecting earthquakes in tsunami-prone Japan, keeping traffic flowing on America's highways, foiling counterfeit pharmaceuticals, battling mosquitoes from outer space, and providing citizens in the developing world with much-needed identity documents. Explore examples and uncover all the ways Big Data is impacting our world.

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