Monthly Archives June 2010

Infochimps API in Action

Back in May when our API was still in its infancy, Sean McDonald, founder of Jute Networks, requested access to the Trstrank data to explore the potential application of it on network relationship management. He created a proficient report and raised some pointed questions that some of our other datasets can now answer. We thought it prudent to showcase his work, not only because it’s just plain nifty, but also because it illustrates the exciting synergy of our calls and the particularly appetizing value of them to market researchers.

If you’re attempting to promote something on Twitter, it’s likely that you would want to focus on promoting it amongst the Twitter luminaries. Enter Trstrank, our exciting little measure of Twitter luminescence. Getting your product promoted by someone with a high Trstrank could potentially be marketing gold. The likelihood, however, of someone with a very high Trstrank nurturing your product’s visibility with a steady stream of cooing retweets is slim to, well, none. So how to know where to focus your evangelizing efforts?

Sean wondered the same thing when he set about to promote his report. He created the following visualization of an arbitrarily selected sample of his Twitter friends positioning himself in the center, companies in the inner circle, and contacts associated with those companies in the outer circle. Any contact or company with a Trstrank greater than five is designated by a blue dot; those with a Trstrank between two and five are designated by an orange dot. This gives a useful snapshot of who occupies a “strategic position” in his Twitter universe.

Seans Network1 300x298 Infochimps API in Action

Sean hypothesized that the least likely to engage and retweet his report were both the most top-ranked and most bottom ranked. Eliminating those two tails would yield a swath of active users to target, the orange dots. Ten of Sean’s thirty sample contacts were orange dots. Of those ten users, Sean eliminated seven of them based on personal knowledge he had of them (i.e. he didn’t know them very well or knew they didn’t care about data and data visualization). This left him with three contacts to enlist in his promotional efforts. Sean’s strategy is very savvy, but requires some amount of personal familiarity with contacts, a luxury not every promoter has.

Seans Orange Dots 300x297 Infochimps API in Action

Fortunately, two of our newer API calls, can simulate Sean’s marketing method. Influencer Metrics will show you how likely a user is to retweet a post based on their tweeting history.  Coupling Influencer Metrics with Trstrank would enable a promoter to identify not only the users most likely to engage, but also the most influential of those users. Throw Wordbag into the mix and a promoter could also discover if users in the active, influential target population have a potential interest in their product.

We would love reader feedback about our current API calls. How do you envision them working together? What other kind of calls would be of benefit to you? Let us know your ideas.

Access the Infochimps Query API via commandline

A tutorial on how to use chimps to access the Infochimps Query API via commandline.

  1. Sign up for the API
  2. When you get your API key, create your chimps dotfile: sudo nano ~/.chimps
  3. Put this in your dotfile:
          :username: your_api_name
          :key:      you_api_key
  4. Install chimps: sudo gem install chimps. (make sure you have gemcutter as a source otherwise it won’t find the gem: gem sources -a
  5. Run a query! % chimps query soc/net/tw/influence screen_name=infochimps

It should return with something like this:


That’s it!

Introducing the Infochimps Query API

Infochimps is pleased to announce the release of our Query API in public beta today. As part of our ongoing effort to democratize access to structured data, the Infochimps Query API offers several calls that allow you to analyze a prodigious amount of Twitter data dating back to 2006. Our current operational calls include the following:


Trstrank uses an algorithm similar to Google Page Rank to generate a numerical rank that indicates the amount of influence a particular user has. This is a much more robust way to determine a Twiter user’s influence than by their number of followers alone.


Wordbag enables you to discover what a specific Twitter user finds interesting. After entering the handle of a specific Twitter user, Wordbag generates a list of words unique to that Twitter user.

Influencer Metrics

Influencer Metrics measures the number retweets, mentions, and @replies that a specific Twitter user has. Retweets and mentions can indicate the value the Twitter community gives to the tweets of a specific user. Coupling Trstrank with Influencer Metrics provides a particularly powerful way to gauge the influence of a Twitter user.

The potential applications of our API are limited only by the imagination. We hope market researchers, brazen self-promoters, statisticians, sociologists, cultural anthropologists, linguists, and all the curious Georges out there will find it as compelling as we do.

Looking to the future, our development team will be constantly polishing and updating the API. Follow @infochimps on Twitter for announcements. We received many requests on our private beta for more frequent refreshments of our data and fuller coverage.  Our next update will do just that. We have additional API calls percolating, including one that will allow you to discover close-knit interactions between Twitter users and see the level of interaction between them.

For features and pricing, including our totally free package, the Baboon, click here.

Visualizing a Socially Connected World

Fresh visualizations for the world of data viz! Using data from our Twitter Census, two data viz enthusiasts have created some sleek visualizations in the past month.

If you want to see Twitter users simply shimmer against a backdrop of a dusky world map, look no further than Ernesto Badillo’s visualization. His map was inspired by the NASA Earth at Night picture. All Twitter users with latitude and longitude coordinates are plotted. With automatic updates from some mobile clients like ÜberTwitter, etchings of some roads, particularly in the U.S., can even be seen. Take a look at Ernesto’s blog post on that page for some details on how he made the visualization.

Screen shot 2010 06 01 at 3.53.32 PM 300x150 Visualizing a Socially Connected World

William Johnson of Chatanooga Data submitted a handful of visualizations, again of Twitter users by location. His visualization provides a way to immediately apprehend the ubiquity of Twitter users with playfully colored dots. These visualizations were made with Tableau.

world2 Visualizing a Socially Connected World

If you, dear reader, are seeking refuge from the oppressive summer sun in the confines of your cool, well-wired basement, consider making your own viz with data from our massive Twitter scrape and submitting it us. We’ll think you’re awesome.