DHC Weekly: twXploder!

May 13, 2019
 
Hi DH Superfans!
 
We've been talking about some text analysis tools lately here on the blog, and this week I'd like to turn to a tool that allows for some light-weight and accessible analysis of the vast and unknowable text-based dataset that is twitter.com! 
 
twXploder is a tool from Knightlab (the folks brought us TimelineJS) that allows you to search a word or phrase and get an overview of what the conversation around your search term looks like on twitter, showing you the most commonly used phrases and hashtags associated with the term, as well as links being shared around it. To get started on twXploder, you have to log in with your twitter account, and then you can pick your language and search for your term!
 
I searched "humanities." Here's what my results looked like:
Screencap of the twXploder display: on the left recent tweets, in the middle a list of commonly used terms, on the right a list of hashtags, and below related links
As you can see, on the left is a list of recent tweets with my search term in them -- I can scroll through these and more will load. In the middle is a list of terms that are also turning up in tweets that contain my searched phrase -- with humanities, unsurprisingly, I'm seeing "students," "majors," "grads," etc. I can click on these terms and filter my results to tweets that contain, for example, both "humanities" and "students". I can also click on a hashtag form the list on the right. The links section down below lists links that have been shared in tweets containing "humanities." 
 
twXploder's functions -- as you can see -- are pretty lightweight and limited, but nevertheless it is a useful tool for capturing  easily-digestible snapshots of the conversations ongoing on twitter, and a useful and accessible introductory tool to the work of social media analysis.