Digging into Twitter following
Last night and today I wrote some Python code to dig into the follower and following sets of Twitter users.
I also think I understand better why Twitter is so compelling, but that’s going to have to wait for now too.
You give my program some Twitter user names and it builds you a table showing numbers of followers, following etc. for each user. It distinguishes between people you follow and who don’t follow you, and people who follow you but whom you don’t follow back.
But the really interesting thing is to look at the intersection of some of these sets between users.
For example, if I follow X and they don’t follow me back, we can assume I have some interest in X. So if am later followed by Y and it turns out that X follows Y, I might be interested to know that. I might want to follow Y back just because I know it might bring me to the attention of X, who may then follow me. If I follow Y, I might want to publicly @ message him/her, hoping that he/she might @ message me back, and that X may see it and follow me.
Stuff like that. If you think that sort of thing isn’t important, or is too detailed or introspective, I’ll warrant you don’t know much about primate social studies. But more on that in another posting too.
As another example use, I plan to forward the mails Twitter sends me telling me someone new is following me into a variant of my program. It can examine the sets of interest and weight them. That can give me an automated recommendation of whether I should follow that person back – or just do the following for me.
There are lots of directions you could push this in, like considering who the person had @ talked to (and whether those people were followers or not) and the content of their Tweets (e.g., do they talk about things I’m interested or not interested in?).
For now, here are links to a few sample runs. Apologies to the Twitter users I’ve picked on – you guys were on my screen or on my mind (following FOWA).
I’d love to turn these into nice Euler Diagrams but I didn’t find any decent open source package to produce them.
I’m also hoping someone else (or other people) will pick this up and run with it. I’ve got no time for it! I’m happy to send the source code to anyone who wants it. Just follow me on Twitter and ask for it.
More soon, I guess.