If you’ve followed Twingly through the years, you might remember our Windows screensaver. Eight years ago we developed a visualization of the blogosphere, we could see blog activity in real time and get a sense for how the whole globe used blogs to communicate (video of the old screensaver).
Unfortunately the screensaver didn’t age that well, it’s now grumpy and doesn’t want to play nice with modern operating systems. Also, who uses a screensaver nowadays? If you do, please consider putting your screen to sleep instead.
We thought it would be fun to see what we could implement using modern technologies. The result is a web based (using WebGL) globe that animates blog posts with coordinates in near real time.
Every second, a huge and every increasing amount of data is published on the web. Gavagai, a Twingly Data client based in Stockholm, has developed a Technology to read, aggregate and understand this content. Fredrik Olsson, the Chief Data Officer, gives some more insights into this fascinating business and about what the startup is able to do with the blog data it collects.
At Gavagai, you do some sophisticated stuff. Please tell us in a few sentences what your business is all about? It’s about continuously reading tremendously large and dynamic text streams, and delivering timely, and actionable intelligence based on the aggregation of information therein. Of course, what is actionable depends on the information needs you as an actor in a particular domain have, be it brand management, assessing threat levels for targets-at-risk, or keeping track of the sentiment towards a particular tradable asset. Example information needs that you are able to address using Ethersource, our system, include:
* How is my brand perceived in comparison to those of my competitors’? * Why are my customers unsubscribing from the services that I’m offering? * When is the best time to launch this particular advertising campaign? * How is the campaign, recently launched by my competitor, received among my target audience? * Where is it most likely that the on-line protests against a certain phenomenon will be publicly manifested in terms of a demonstration?
What’s the founding story of Gavagai? Gavagai was founded in 2008 by my colleagues Jussi Karlgren and Magnus Sahlgren, as a spin-off from the Swedish Institute of Computer Science (SICS). Gavagai was formed as a response to the many inquiries Magnus and Jussi received from people outside SICS regarding their research. Gavagai has been operational in its current incarnation since late 2010.
You are one of Twingly’s Data clients, that means you are using our API to access data from Swedish and English speaking blogs. Why do you need this information and what do you use it for? We read data from Twingly 24/7. In particular, the Twingly live feed gives what we believe to be a very good coverage of Swedish blogs, which of course is very important to us in meeting the kinds of information needs outlined above, expressed by domestic actors.
Do you have any insights about this data from Blogs in Swedish and English you want to share? Some surprising fact or observation? One epiphany we had some time ago was that we’re now able to aggregate and inspect attitudes and opinions of a population as a whole, that’s not necessarily visible in any of the parts. For instance, we can clearly see that Swedish bloggers are optimistic during holidays and weekends, something which is very hard to assess from the posts of any one individual. Analogously, we also pick up on aversive or hostile tendencies in the online population towards a given subject, but where it is hard to identify all the facets of the tendency in any one individual. For example, we recently set up a Xenophobic Tracker using, among other things, the Swedish blogosphere as input; the propensity of violent expressions in that context is not a pretty read.
But it’s not the peak items that we’re most pleased with. With Ethersource, we can pick up and note weak signals and tendencies where other methods fail.
What type of companies or organisations use your services? The kinds of actors that require actionable intelligence in their efforts to manage brands, make informed decision based on the ‘temperature’ of an on-line population as a whole, keep track of the general mood in the markets, or trade with specific assets.
Your titel is “Chief Data Officer”. That’s not too common, is it? Do you think every company will need a CDO in the future? No, I don’t think every company will need a CDO in the future. Hopefully, companies will be able to scale down on their data management activities, perhaps due to their use of tools and techniques such as Ethersource, and instead focus on their core business. Much the same way we are able to focus on our core business by obtaining data from Twingly instead of harvesting it all ourselves.
Big Data is one of the hottest buzzwords right now, which is a field you are active in. What’s the potential and biggest challenges of the increasing amount of data? We’re currently concerned with human-generated text, so it is in the light of that the response to this question should be read.
The biggest challenge with Big Data is to stop focusing on Big Data. Big Data will, by virtue of the prevailing definition, always be slightly too big to handle with common tools. This has mainly resulted in people being obsessed with processing speed and ability to store large amounts of data. Few, if any, have focused on a layer in the so called Big Data Stack that so far has been missing: the Semantic Processing Layer. The key challenge for Big Data is to come to the point where it is easy and swift to turn massive data streams into actionable intelligence; knowledge that you and your organization can act upon in order to obtain a competitive advantage. To put it another way; the key challenge of Big Data is to be of service.
Being a researcher by training and heart, I believe that we’ve yet to imagine the biggest potential there is in harnessing truly Big Data. Let’s talk about that in a few years, when a more representative sample of our world’s population is active on-line. Then, we’ll be able to find the collective answers to questions to mankind, that we’re not able to think of now.
What’s on your roadmap for the upcoming years? Where do you see the biggest growth and potential for Gavagai? We’ve got very exciting times ahead of us! Ethersource is already unique in the way it is able to read amounts of text that would overwhelm traditional language processing methods, handle multiple (all) languages, in real-time, and learn from variations in the input in an unsupervised manner.
Our development plans involve some fairly hefty stuff. In the short term, we’ll roll out a game changer in terms of a way of identifying the many meanings of a given concept, and use that information to disambiguate expressions of that concept as they appear in social media. For instance, imagine that you are a brand manager for Apple, Visa, “3” or some other brand with an inherently ambiguous and common name: How do you go about monitoring the attitudes and opinions towards the meaning of the word that constitutes your brand, and only that meaning? There is a solution…
The biggest growth and potential for Gavagai is as a supplier of the Ethersource technology to other companies, such as analytics firms, trading desks, governmental agencies etc, that already have an infrastructure in place, but that lacks the competitive edge the ability to understand and make sense of large text streams in multiple languages gives. Ethersource is an implementation of the Semantic Processing Layer of the Big Data Stack, and we intend to move it as such.
Liveboard is a feature that visualizes the buzz about trends on Twitter. It’s HTML5 based and works with any state of the art browser powered by the WebKit engine, like Chrome and Safari, as well as with Firefox 4, Firefox 3.6, Internet Explorer 9 and Opera.
Let’s summarize the key figures: Overall number of tweets containing the “next11” keyword: more than 11.000 Tweets about next11 during the time of the conference: almost 9.000 Number of different users tweeting about next11: more than 3000 Number of unique hashtags in tweets mentioning next11: 1200 Number of unique links in tweets mentioning next11: almost 3000
Top 5 Twitter users mentioned in tweets with “next11” hashtag: @TheNextWeb @nextconf @50hz @CBM @sesselman
Top 5 Twitter users with most tweets about next11: @50hz @nextconf @sesselmann @lojanna @countUP
Top 5 most used hashtags #next11 #int #Elevator #datalove #soc
Overall, the first conference day on Tuesday led to more tweets than the second one.
In case you would like to have a Liveboard for your own event to either simply spread the link online or to show it on a big screen at your event location, please send a mail to martin at twingly dot com and we’ll create one for you (the product is still in Alpha stadium). And in case you have any feature suggestions or wishes don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments section.
For years, there has been talk about the death of RSS. While RSS has been the most common way for bloggers and information workers to gather and collect information from lots of sources, it has never really caught the attention of the mainstream users. There might be many reasons for that, but the rather “unsexy” name of the format, the relatively complicated way of subscribing to a RSS feed (for less experienced users) and the little efforts from publishers to market RSS (with the exception of blogs) definitely contributed to the slow adoption of RSS outside of the web geek sphere (imagine if subscribing to a RSS feed would have been as easy as “liking” something with Facebook…).
The recently announced end of web-based RSS reader Bloglines is grist for the mill of those who see RSS dying. Even though Bloglines has fallen into oblivion already years ago, it was still one of the two big browser-based full-fledged RSS readers out there. Now with Bloglines disappearing, only Google Reader is left, leaving not many alternatives to those that are trying to not become too depended on Google services (which can happen easily when using Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar and Google Reader).
Well, for all those people, we might have the solution: Twingly Channels, our social and collaborative news tool which one can use to import both RSS feeds and articles from blogs based around specific keywords.
But wait, didn’t I just describe how some think RSS seems to be dying? Well, I did, but in fact, it isn’t. Even though it is pretty clear that RSS won’t become a big mainstream phenomenon due to the reasons mentioned above, the number of RSS subscribers to many of the big tech blogs is still increasing, and ironically, many of the articles being shared on Twitter come from RSS feeds – either from users who find them in their RSS reader, or via Twitter accounts that belong to big news sites, which usually are fed with the site’s RSS feed.
So while it is possible that some former RSS hardcore users are giving up on the format and solely rely on Twitter and social news aggregators such as Techmeme in the future, there are no indications of a broader trend of people totally abandoning RSS.
Nevertheless, conventional web-based RSS readers (such as Bloglines or Google Reader) but even Desktop RSS clients have their drawbacks: They usually don’t allow for collaboration, they focus only on RSS and they are not really sharable. Having that in mind, let’s get back to Twingly Channels!
Twingly Channels is made for several people contributing together to one social news stream, where they monitor, “like” and comment on news items imported from both RSS feeds but also via keywords. To each item, the number of linking posts and retweets is shown. And of course you can share the Channel with other Twingly users!
We are aware that Twingly Channels doesn’t replace classic RSS Readers. But that’s not our intention either. In Fact, Twingly Channels is taking the concept of RSS to the next level, making it more social, and combining it with a keyword centric way of importing content. In the end, RSS will definitely stay for good (especially because of the realtime boost the format got thanks to PubSubHubBub and RSS Cloud), but conventional, unsocial RSS readers might disappear.
So if you have been using Bloglines and are looking for a new tool to manage your news and information, or if you are using another RSS client but are in the need of something more social, or if you don’t even use RSS but would like to try a social reader which simply brings you all the blog content regarding specific keywords, you should try Twingly Channels.
We wrote this guide to help you getting started. It’s easy, so give it a whirl! And if you want us to import your complete list of subscribed RSS feeds from Bloglines, Google Reader or any other RSS client, send us an email with the OPML-file (containing your subscriptions – you get this file by using the export function in your RSS reader) and the URL of your Twingly Channel (e.g. www.twingly.com/channelname) to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll take care of it!
Last week we got some really positive feedback about Twingly Live. And no, this came not as you might expect from people having seen it on walls at conferences, integrated on websites or elsewhere.
No, people using Live on their iPhones or Android-mobiles told us. “The best tool to use when following an event online on Twitter on your mobile”, one said. Now, that flatters us. And the next suggestion we got was “I think you should advertise that a bit more.” OK, that might be a good idea then.
What lots of people don’t know is that we developed a mobile version of Live. So when you enter Live via the browser of your mobile phone, you get redirected automatically to the mobile version.
This is how Twingly Live works on your mobile.
Go to the Twingly Live directory , see which streams exist and follow the one you like. For setting up your own Live-stream, please enter the directory from your computer – the mobile version cannot cater for this yet.
No worries, setting up a Live-stream is pretty easy. We put this video together to help you:
Open the URL in your mobile’s browser, and off you go.
I actually used it during the football world championship in summer, and that’s how I learned on the train home that Switzerland defeated Spain in one of the first matches.
There are numerous other opportunities to use Live. Follow your favourite football team, the Superbike World Championship , Pop Idol, X-factor or DSDS 2011 in Germany, the European Song Contest – endless possibilities. Or you are at a conference and want to follow the hash-tag used there, like i.e. Likeminds.
Now – enjoy, and don’t forget to share the stream you follow with your friends!
Sometimes you just need to see the real time web in action to understand its dynamics and power. This was a thought I had when I last week witnessed the sudden rise of a meme in the German Twitter-sphere. Personally I have never seen something similar before in the German speaking microblogging world, at least not with this intensity.
Everything started with an inconspicuous flower pot that belonged to an elder care home in the German city of Münster. One week ago the pot was destroyed by an unknown person. For some reason the “story” made it onto the website of the local newspaper Münstersche Zeitung. Katharina Hövels, the woman who wrote the article, started working at the newspaper a week before and was unexperienced, the paper later explained in a follow-up piece.
At 11:04 pm on Wednesday, Ralf Heimann was apparently the first person on Twitter to publish the link to the article. His tweet was retweeted 36 times, which doesn’t include manual retweets, and it was his tweet that about 12 hours later, on Thursday around lunch, led to the Twitter meme carrying the hashtag #blumenkübel, which is German for flower pot.
I think I noticed the first #blumenkübel tweets at around 12 am, and it was like out of the blue that suddenly my complete Twitter stream was filled with this hashtag. What happened was that some people that did read the original article took the blumenkübel story and adapted it to other recent news events, while some others simply joked about flower pots in general or the fact that the incident was actually reported about.
The more people participated, the more who didn’t read the original article either started to joined or asked what the #blumenkübel thing was all about, which consequently led to a number of blog posts explaining what happened, both in German and even in English. That again helped to increase the number of #blumenkübel mentions.
At Twingly we quickly set up a Twingly Live Channel which at the peak of the #blumenkübel wave showed new tweets every second. It was impressive to watch!
According to the Twitter monitoring service Trendistic, the flower pot meme reached its peak around 2 pm on Thursday. After that the number of tweets containing the hashtag fell but rose again around 5 pm. If you follow Social Web topics you probably can guess why: After a few hours of #blumenkübel-mania, German mainstream media got curious and started to publish reports about how a flower pot became a star on Twitter, and that created new attention for the already diminishing meme. During that time, fake screenshots of CNN covering the broken flower pot and a YouTube video making fun of the flower pot’s fate had already hit Twitter.
The #blumenkübel hashtag actually made it into Twitter’s trending topics for a whole 5 hours, reaching position 4 at best, and increasing awareness of the flower pot tragedy on the other side of the Atlantic. Liz Pullen from What The Trend informed me on Friday that out of 492 trending topics during the past 7 days, #blumenkübel was the 30th most popular, which is remarkable considering the nonsense behind it and the small German twittersphere.
While Twitter was definitely the core of this meme, a Facebook page that was set up on early Thursday afternoon praising the flower pot grew to more than 2000 members on that day, and got even more attention after the national TV station Pro7 picked up the story on Friday evening (30 hours after the meme started). Today, the page has almost 10.000 members, which is significantly more than the number of tweets that was published with the #blumenkübel hashtag.
So, let’s draw a few conclusions: Twitter and the dynamics of the real time web allow a destroyed flower pot to become a celebrity in no time. It’s hard to explain the phenomenon if you haven’t been directly involved. It’s simply a lot of fun to see a meme grow, to be part of it and to help spread it. It’s an expression of the real time web’s (and the people’s) power. Just imagine how quick really important information could travel on the web if a stupid joke can.
It’s also obvious that Twitter is much faster than Facebook when it comes to viral distribution of information. One reason for that is definitely the more open environment at Twitter, even though Facebook is trying to compete with that. But that does not mean that Facebook does not have a purpose during the rise of an Internet meme. While Twitter is the core of the real time process, people afterwards go to Facebook to look for a group or page to join.
At least in the case of #blumenkübel, Twitter and Facebook didn’t compete but rather completed each other.
Using data from our blog search engine we decided to find out which Twitter clients are getting the most buzz on blogs. The result is a list of the most popular 3rd-party Twitter-apps according to the blogosphere, based on blog mentions between April and June this year.
Since we did not want to compare apples with oranges, we thought it would the best to ignore all those apps that can connect and publish to Twitter, but that are not real, fully functional Twitter clients for reading and writing to the microblogging service. That’s why the following list does not include location based services, Blog platforms or photo/video sites capable of accessing Twitter. Instead, we are focusing on feature-rich Twitter clients, because this is where you have to choose from when using Twitter in a serious way.
In 2008, the ranking looked totally different. Only one of the Twitter apps creating the most buzz in the blogosphere back then is still part of the 2010 edition: Twitterrific, rank 4 in 2008, rank 5 today. The others got either abandoned (like Terraminds micro search), let alone by the developer after being acquired (like twhirl), or do not qualify anymore since they are no fully equipped Twitter clients – in 2008, we included other services like photo sites or search engines for Twitter as well, since unlike today, at that time not every Social Web platform had a Twitter integration.
Same here as in the Top 5 Overall list – only Twitterrific (Mac only) is still going strong, but fell one position (from 2 to 3). The other 4 most popular apps from 2008 – thwirl, Snitter, Tweetr (now an iPhone app) and Twitteroo – do still exist, but apparently lost the blogosphere’s attention, which now has other darlings.
None of the top apps from 2008 is still in this year’s list. Back then we actually didn’t have a single fully functional Browser client included, simply because they didn’t exist yet. Instead, photosite mobypicture, blog-to-Twitter service twitterfeed, the 2 Twitter search engines Terraminds (abandoned) and Summize (acquired by Twitter) and the Twitter keyword aggregator twistori made it into the Top 5 in 2008.
In 2008 it was pretty difficult to find a decent mobile app for Twitter, and our analysis showed that there were fewer blog posts written about mobile Twitter apps in relation to other categories. Fast forward to 2010 and things are completely different. There are many great mobile clients for different platforms available, which is why we decided to extend this year’s list to Top 10. Just for the sake of completeness, the most buzzed about mobile apps in 2008 were Hahlo, Cetwit, Twitter Answers, Twapper and Twittai.
Notes and Methodology We used this and this list of Twitter apps as a basis and we analyzed all mentions in blogs across the world from April 1 to June 30. In some cases the number of valid mentions was smaller than the one we found, simply because of backlinks created by some apps that published from Twitter to blogs, like “via App XYZ”.
Also, some of the apps are available for several platforms, like Seesmic which you can use in the browser, on your desktop and on different mobile platforms. Since it was not always possible to conclude to which version of Seesmic a mention referred to, we can only give you the overall picture of how popular Seesmic is across all platforms. Please also note that a mention not necessarily is a measure for quality, and that sudden spikes in the number of mentions could be caused by major news, like the acquisition of a service.
So while our list is not the one and only, definite way of ranking Twitter clients, it illustrates which of the 3rd party apps for Twitter are creating the most buzz in the blogosphere. And as a sidenote we can assure you that all clients in the list are actually pretty good and worth trying. So in the end, the blogsphere seems to be good judge.
1. Breaking news and background for media outlets If something happens today somewhere on planet earth, it is often reported on Twitter first. Usually much earlier than newspapers and TV stations get to know about it. On the other hand, this information from alleged eye witnesses is not always completely reliable, and in general rather incomplete. So the realtime web is not replacing traditional news media, but it is helping them to gather first-hand information and to get a clue about which story could be worth reporting on.
2. Spreading important information There might be situations when it could be necessary for governments, companies, organizations or citizens to spread a specific information quickly to a huge group of people (within a specific area or country) – just think about Chernobyl or the tsunami in Southeast Asia. The realtime web is the definite tool to make really important news spread like a virus, and that actually could save lives.
3. Organizing events With the realtime web, people can organize themselves, arranging flash-mobs, spontaneous parties or demonstrations. Apart from the fun factor involved here, this can be a big advantage for non-democratic countries and those parts of the world without freedom of speech. As we have witnessed during the Iranian protests, the realtime web helped citizens to be a step ahead of the authorities and to steer a huge crowd of people.
4. Collective intelligence The real time web allows for tapping into the collective brain of millions of users. It’s not uncommon on Twitter or Facebook that people ask their contacts/followers public questions about a good restaurant, mobile phone or museum. Or simply about something where they didn’t find the answer on Google. Thanks to the realtime web, there are always people out there listening, and the required information is never far away.
5. Crime prevention Sometimes people on Twitter re-tweet announcements from either citizens or the police, searching for witnesses of a specific crime. The realtime web helps to spread this information, since it is not part of most user’s daily routine to check the press releases of their local police station.
Of course, the realtime web can also support getting eye witness reports on crimes that have been committed just a few minutes ago, so that people in the vicinity can both be especially careful but also pay attention to suspects. The final result of this could be a higher risk for criminals to get caught, which might prevent a few from actually committing a crime in the first place.
6. Market transparency Go to Twingly Microblog search, enter the name of any product, and you get an list of people’s opinion about it. Customers use the tools of the realtime web to say what they think about brands and services. The results might not be sophisticated reviews like on specific websites made for product reviews, but aggregated and analysed based on technologies for sentiment analysis, the results can be very helpful for other’s and at least an additional source of information right before a planned purchase. Under the assumption that there are the right tools for extracting the relevant feedback from the stream of status updates, the realtime web can increase the transparency of markets.
7. Find people based on their locations You can find users from a specific country or city by searching on a Social Network. But that doesn’t guarantee you that they are there right now. And it doesn’t tell you if they have been at a specific location in their city. With the upcoming combination of realtime elements and location features – that even Twitter is taking seriously now – it will be pretty easy to connect with people being at any given location anywhere in the world. So if you are interested in the tweets of someone who is in South Africa following the World Cup, that wouldn’t be a problem anymore. This will even come handy for journalists looking for somebody at the scene of an event to interview.
8. “Social” media Everyone is speaking about “Social Media” referring to a million different things and tools, but in this specific context, what we mean is that the realtime web makes existing media and media channels become a social experience. Have you ever been on Twitter when there was a big sports event on TV (hard to avoid these worldcup days), or the final show of a popular music television for example? The realtime web enables viewers to comment with their smartphones or notebooks on what they are watching , to share their opinion with other’s and to make the watching experience become social, even though they are sitting in their homes many miles away from each other. With the soon to be launched Google TV project, this type of social media might become a really widespread phenomenon.
To see this in action, you can use Twingly Live to follow the hashtag or keyword of your favourite show, to get a realtime stream of Twitter updates from other viewers.
We know that many of you are working within marketing, media, are running a company or doing freelance work. And we are pretty sure that most of you are curious to see what users are publishing about you, your company, brands or services on the Social Web.
We have a tool that might help you collecting this information. With our blog and microblogging search you can easily monitor all the things people online say about you and the products you work with. That helps you to stay in touch with your loyal customers and target groups and also gives you valuable information for improving and enhancing your offerings.
So now we explain you how to get started. It’s only 3 steps! First, we’ll show you how to monitor what people are saying about you in blogs, and then how to monitor microblogging services like Twitter.
How to monitor blogs with Twingly
1. Go to www.twingly.com and sign in with your username and password. If you don’t have a Twingly account yet, you can create one for free by clicking on “sign up”
2. Click on the link “Blog search” in the navigation bar at the top of the site (the direct address to the Blog search is www.twingly.com/search). Now, enter the keyword or keywords you want to monitor into the search field, like the name of the company you are working for or of a specific product or brand. Press “search”.
3. What you are seeing now are the results of your search, that means all the blog articles from around the web that include the keyword(s) that you entered. Above the result list you find different filters to sort the results, for example by language or date they were published. For monitoring purposes we recommend you to change the “Sort by” filter from “TwinglyRank” to “Date”
To the right you see a box with the links “Subscribe to RSS” and “Create Email Alert”.
By clicking on “Create Email Alert”, you subscribe to the specific search by email. After you have done that, we’ll send you every day one email with the latest results for the search term(s) you choose. And if you are getting tired of too many emails, you can simply click the unsubscribe link in the mail whenever you want.
If you instead prefer to subscribe to the search by RSS, click on the “Subscribe to RSS” link, copy the complete link from your browser address bar and paste it into your RSS reader of choice, like Google Reader. Every time we find a new blog post mentioning the keyword(s) you chose, you’ll get it delivered right into your RSS reader.
How to monitor Twitter and other microblogging services with Twingly
1. Go to www.twingly.com and sign in with your username and password. If you don’t have a Twingly account yet, you can create one for free by clicking on “sign up”
2. Click on the link “Microblog search” in the navigation bar at the top of the site (the direct address to the Microblog search is www.twingly.com/microblogsearch). Now, enter the keyword or keywords you want to monitor into the search field, like the name of the company you are working for or of a specific product or brand. Press “Microblog search”.
3. What you are seeing now are the results of your search, that means all the mentions of the keyword(s) that you entered. To the right you see a box with a few microblogging services that you can either include or exclude in your search. We recommend you to not uncheck the Twitter results, since this is the microblogging service with the highest user activity.
After you have decided which services to include, you can choose between subscribing to the RSS feed of that search or to create an email alert instead:
By clicking on “Create Email Alert”, you subscribe to the specific search by email. After you have done that, we’ll send you every day one email with the latest results for the search term or search terms you choose. And if you are getting tired of too many emails, you can simply click the unsubscribe link in the mail whenever you want.
If you instead want to subscribe to the search by RSS, click on the “Subscribe to RSS” link, copy the complete link from your browser address bar and paste it into your RSS reader of choice, like Google Reader. Every time there are new microblogging posts mentioning the keyword(s) you chose, you’ll get them delivered right into your RSS reader.
Some final advices
If you don’t get many results for your search, a reason could be that you have entered too many keywords. Try to remove one or more of the keywords.