Parsing #cloudchat with word clouds

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All you ardent fans of this blog probably know about the monthly Twitter #cloudchat. By the way—you should join today’s session on “Supercomputing on Demand” from 4-5 p.m. ET. For those who aren’t familiar with #cloudchat, it is a one-hour interactive chat session on Twitter usually hosted by @IBMcloud and featuring a panel of industry experts. A central cloud-related (cloud  in this context ≠ cumulonimbus or stratocumulus – more on that later) theme for the chat is pre-announced, and several questions are seeded prior to the session, and participants riff back and forth.

I participated in my first #cloudchat a month ago, on the topic of the “Cloud and the Connected Home,” while at the IBM Redbooks Residency on Cloud and Social Media.

I, for one, didn’t have a clue that there was such a beast as a “Twitter Chat.” In fact, I didn’t even have a Twitter account till last week.  I was intrigued by the fact that so many people from around the globe thought it worth their time to jump in and share views on a topic that they were obviously interested in and knowledgeable about. However, the posts scroll by rapidly, and when you are busy composing a tweet, you would have missed many. So I decided to find out how to get to the heart of the debate.

I tried to do two things – understand who was doing the talking (tweeting, rather) and what they were talking about. To get to this, if you search Twitter for “#cloudchat,” you get a bunch of tweets in reverse chronological order – not quite the ideal way to understand a wide-ranging conversation on multiple topics among a bunch of participants. See the snapshot below!

(sorry Kevin, wrong sort of cloud!)

So, I tried to simplify things a bit for my mind to be able to grasp it. I copied all of the tweets into a spreadsheet, and a few quick VBA macros later, ended up with a clean, nicely formatted 3-column list, with the Tweeter’s Name, Twitter Handle and the actual tweet itself.

On to the next step – taking all of this text data and dropping into IBM ManyEyes for a couple of visualizations. Here goes!

In the “Word Cloud” above, the font size for the Twitter handles is proportional to the number of tweets – so @JimONeilParks, @JAdP, @ConnectedWMag and @pbrody had the most to say on the topic of connected homes.

On to what was said – here’s a similar Word Cloud of the words in the tweets themselves (of course, common English words like “a,” “the,” etc., were eliminated from consideration). A lot of talk about the “cloud” and the “connected home” (obviously!), but also a lot of talk on “enabling,” “security,” “apps,” “TV” and “devices.”

You can see a recap of the September #cloudchat (with the actual tweets) here:

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