The wedding of Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton is cause for celebration – especially for the conventional and social media. Using twitter’s hashtag #rw2011 the online audience could express their sentiments about the nuptial celebrations. I’m more interested in the conversations that take place in twitter: who mentions whom – the basis of social network analysis. Using NodeXL to retrieve the tweets (script here) and Gephi to visualize the dynamic structure of the network I came up with the following video:
In the video a connection between two nodes is formed when someone mentions or retweets another tweeter – a cite. The tweets were retrieved every 5 minutes before (4 hour before) and during the wedding ceremony until the flyover at the Buckingham Palace. The size of the node represents received citations and the brightness of the node represents activity of mentioning other tweeters. Tweeters that didn’t mention anyone else are not shown here. @clarencehouse (2625 mentions received), @eonline (546 mentions) and @britishmonarchy (498) were the most popular tweeters. Overall 34780 tweeters used the hashtag during the 6 hour period and 12002 mentioned someone else. If we filter out those who are not connected to the main network and received no cites, a more clear picture emerges:
We can also notice that traditional news sites (@eonline, @enews, @bbcworld etc.) have engaged a large audience. These central nodes connect the whole network but still remain separated. The structure of the network resembles a scale-free network, where the most popular nodes gain new connections just by being popular (“the rich get richer -scenario”).
Why do this? First of all, twitter’s feed doesn’t really relay the dynamics of the discussions.With this information we could map the most active and influential tweeters before an event occurs. We can map the different communities and audiences that have taken interest in the matter. Below is the picture of all of the tweets during the wedding (pdf here, see if you can ctrl+f youself).
Good luck for the married couple, here is .gexf-file (rather large one, 33megs) of the tweets if you want to do some network analysis on your honeymoon.