Tracking Twitter Trends With TwitScoop

Keeping track of trends on Twitter is like walking down Main Street and being able to hear every single conversation by everyone you pass. Sometimes, the results are obvious. Last Tuesday, for example, everybody was talking about the U.S. presidential elections. But sometimes you pick up a couple of surprises.

Mitch Wagner, California Bureau Chief, Light Reading

November 13, 2008

2 Min Read

Keeping track of trends on Twitter is like walking down Main Street and being able to hear every single conversation by everyone you pass. Sometimes, the results are obvious. Last Tuesday, for example, everybody was talking about the U.S. presidential elections. But sometimes you pick up a couple of surprises.TweetDeck, a desktop Twitter client for the Mac and Windows has a handy little built-in panel that lets you watch conversational trends on Twitter. It displays a tag cloud from TwitScoop that shows you which words are being used most frequently by everybody on Twitter, around the world. Like most tag clouds, the words are sized in proportion to their frequency of use. This is what the TwitScoop cloud looked like at around 10:30 p.m. Pacific time last night:

TweetDeck
I highlighted the most popular word: "Installing?" What's up with that, I wondered. What are people installing that's so popular that it's the top keyword on Twitter?

Clicking on the tag took me to a Web page on TwitScoop that reported on that particular keyword: installing. It's not hugely interesting now, but when I did it last night I saw a big discussion of people who ran out to buy -- and install -- the latest World of Warcraft update. Oho.

"Cloud" was another bafflingly popular word from last night.

TweetDeck

The popularity of that word came from scattered discussions of cloud computing, of course, and also from people sharing a link to this photo of an unusual cloud.

"Darius" was another tag whose popularity had me scratching my head.

TweetDeck
The only "Darius" I heard of was a character in an Isaac Asimov novel who was named for Darius the Great, who ruled Persia from 522 to 486 B.C. Had Twitter been invaded by fans of one of the Good Doctor's more obscure novels? Or ancient historians?

Clicking on the tag solved that riddle: Darius Rucker is a popular singer who performed at the Country Music Awards last night. I never heard of him myself, but, then again, I'm hopelessly out of touch with any popular culture that doesn't interest me. Ask me about Dexter, or Mad Men and we can talk for hours, but ask me about that "Western & Country" music that's so popular nowadays, and I'm all, "Huh?"

Is all this information useful? I started out this blog by saying that keeping track of conversational trends on Twitter is like listening to conversations on Main Street -- but Main Street of what town? Are the demographics of Twitter users a meaningful subsection of any significant demographic of the U.S. population? Do you learn anything useful tracking Twitter conversational trends, or is it all just another way to procrastinate?

About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

California Bureau Chief, Light Reading

Mitch Wagner is California bureau chief for Light Reading.

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