- January 19, 2011
A lot of social media analysts are predicting that curation will help solve the issue of social media overload. Curation has been touted as “the chosen” social media buzzword du jour and the new form of search that will prove more useful than Google’s spammed result pages. Rather than paying attention to just anyone and everyone, we will defer to the nine percent of people who actively search for content, and listen to them on networks like Twitter or Quora.
How does this paint a very different perception of reality? After all, we will be listening to very select sources and filtering out the inconvenient users of social media who may just so happen to disagree with us. We then listen to these same sources over and over. What happens when we happen to encounter someone who either contradicts our life paradigm or is simply too unfamiliar with our priorities to even make conversation?
Visualizing social media data allows us to make sense of massive amounts of raw data in a very clear way. Rather than relying on someone to sift through the noise to find the useful nuggets of information, data visualization gives us a holistic view so that we can make sense of a lot information within seconds. It also prevents us from shielding our eyes to the inconvenient truths provided by those who just so happen to be outside our social streams.
Rio Akasaka, a first year Master’s student in Human Computer Interaction at Stanford and Infochimps user, created a good use case of how data visualization can help us make sense of what occurs via social media. Rio first downloaded an Infochimps data set of tweets pertaining to the Haiti earthquake that occurred a year ago. Using the Google Maps API, he plotted these tweets on a map to show when they occurred are where they came from.
How would it alter someone’s perception to see only curated stories about the Haiti earthquake or the aftermath of the Gabriel Gifford shooting versus a bird’s eye version Rio’s visualization provides?