Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What’s in a Twitter name?

What’s in a Twitter name or handle? Anything: real names, company names, fancy names, pictograms, … the amount of information produced through Twitter is enormous, but it’s possible to filter this ‘bigdata’ in a way to make sense of it. Elian Carsenat created geographic maps of e-Diasporas, by recognizing the Twitter names of geotagged tweets: Irish, Swedish, Russian, etc. He called this Twitter GEOnomastics, borrowing a term from your obedient servant Dr. Evgeny Shokhenmayer (2010).

How does it work? The software accurately recognizes that ‘NamSor Applied Onomastics’ (@NomTri) is probably a trade mark or a company name, whereas ‘Elian Carsenat’ (@ElianCarsenat) is probably a personal name – and most likely a French name. Fancy names are also recognized and filtered out.

The author sees wide applications of such maps. When Captain James Cook explored the seas in the 18th century, having accurate maps could mean life or death for a ship and its crew. Working out latitude had been known for centuries, but measuring longitude was still tricky and inaccurate. In today’s digital world, he sees latitude as ‘recognizing the semantics’ in a message expressed in a particular language and longitude as ‘recognizing the culture’ of the target audience. He's full of curiosity on how and to whom this map can be useful, possibly Twitter itself. Elian Carsenat is going from Paris to Dublin in two weeks to find out : he aspires to meet people at Twitter European Headquarters. Twitter just issued its IPO but is also not clear how to make its money.

Read his next posts to discover more Twitter GEOnomastics maps showing Irish, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Turkish, Swedish, Italian, Dutch e-Diasporas (or cultural influence).

NB. The maps are currently interactive, so you can zoom in and out of a particular territory, however this may be shut down in a month or two.

If you are interested in the Twitter onomastic geotagging, read further here:

What’s in a Twitter name? A glance at the Irish digital Diaspora | NameSorts