You Are What You Tweet

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/glecharles/status/120981079736848385″]

[cue movie announcer voice]

In a world awash in Big Data, a single picture can be worth A MILLION WORDS!

I love data, but the more complex it becomes, the less effective spreadsheets and Powerpoint charts are at presenting it. Enter infographics and the growing field of data visualization, perhaps best personified by Facebook’s hiring of personal infographics guru Nick Felton to work on the visual elements of their new Timeline feature.

One of my favorite examples can be seen in Hans Rosling’s “200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes – The Joy of Stats,” an amazing visualization that plots life expectancy against income for every country since 1810. (Go, watch it!)

So, of course, I was intrigued when I saw Visual.ly, an interesting service David Lee King posted about that creates an infographic based on a reading of your Twitter feed, and even more so when I realized it’s a smart viral campaign to promote a new platform that’s focused on “building a tool that will allow everyone to quickly and easily create professional quality designs with their own data.”

At Forbes back in April, Ed Zitron described it as “DeviantArt specifically for infographics,” which seems apt, and Fast Company describes the business model like so:

[I]nfographics are a serious–and growing–business opportunity. Increasingly, companies see them as a way to create effective viral marketing, and some pay up to $30,000 for a single graphic, according to Langille. Instead, Visual.ly wants to offer its services up in a subscription model, providing its team to clients as needed for a monthly retainer fee.

Intriguing.

Here’s the solographic their “Twitterize Yourself” service created from my personal Twitter account:

Most of the data seems straightforward, though if I’m what qualifies as a Techie, I’d hate to see how they characterize the people who regularly engage in some of Twitter’s typically lowbrow trending topics. It’s also not clear how they’re measuring Chattiness, Enthusiasm, or Interestingness, and I’m pretty sure Mike Cane would agree with me that we don’t exactly have the strongest connection!

The topics are kind of random, too, but they seem  to be digging deep into my archives as “fbcc10” was the Firebrand Community Conference I attended in September 2010. How it picked that up and not “dbw” or even “cmonson” is bizarre; and WTF is “thereaposs”?

All in all, while its analytical abilities are questionable — and arguably another example of why there will always be a need for a human touch to calibrate bloodless algorithms — it certainly does a good job of fulfilling its primary use case: creating a compelling infographic.

I smell another rabbit hole…

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Guy LeCharles Gonzalez

As in guillotine. Old/new media pragmatist. Sometimes loud, one-time poet, still opinionated. Reading, writing, running, gaming, soccer, beer.

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