Visualizing #FoL18 with TAGS

3 min read

A few weeks ago, incoming ETUG chair Terri Bateman and I had an opportunity to Skype with the ALT leadership team of Maren Deepwell and Martin Hawksey. Since becoming the BCcampus steward on the ETUG Stewardship Committee last fall, I’ve been thinking of ways in which I can help foster deeper connections with organizations like our British Columbia Education Technology User Group (ETUG).

I’ve long admired the work of ALT, Maren and Martin, who may have been among the first people I connected with in the early days of Twitter in 2008-ish. But, like so many social media connections, I have never had the opportunity to meet or speak directly with either of them until a few weeks ago, and I’m happy to have finally had reason to connect with them.

Clint, stop burying the lede.

I bring Martin up because I had forgotten about this great Twitter archive & visualization tool he built called TAGS. After our convo, I wanted to give it a try. Last week’s Festival of Learning in Vancouver gave me the perfect opportunity to do some Twitter hashtag analysis of the conference.

TAGS works with Google Sheets. It is a series of scripts built into Google Sheets that collects, archives and visualizes Twitter activity, and then presents it in various forms.

I ran the conference hashtag thru TAGS, and a few seconds later had a spreadsheet populated with the 2100+ tweets with that hashtag. Not surprising, the top tweeter from the conference was the @BCcampus account (BCcampus is my org and the organizers of the conference).

I can also check out and see what Twitter activity looked like leading up to and post conference, and what tweets from the conference seemed to resonate with the wider Twitter network enough that they wanted to retweet them. Jesse Stommel’s (excellent) keynote slides was the most retweeted tweet of the conference with 98 retweets.

I love the interactivity of the tool, which allows me to drill down into the data and follow paths into the event through the eyes of the Twitterverse. For example, one of the tools is the data visualization tool which maps different levels of interaction among participants, identifying the key nodes within the Twitter network. Here is a look at a cluster at the centre of the hashtag. These are the most active tweeters during the conference. Click on a node (in this case mine) and you get a detailed look at their Twitter activity over the course of the conference on the right.


From here, I can dig deeper and see who the node interacted with and at what time during the conference by clicking the Replay Tweets link.This takes me to a timeline that moves thru my tweets from start to finish and shows me whom interacted or was connected to the tweets I sent out. I can view the conversations as they unfolded.

All in all, this is a great tool for someone to help determine who were the active participants on Twitter during a conference. Who those people are that can help you make the conference more open and accessible to those who cannot be there, and who are disseminating the information from the conference sessions. And it’s just plain old fun to view an event thru the hashtag and pick up connections and resources that you may have missed the first time around.

Here is the public link to the visualization if you want to spend some time getting lost in the network chat from the festival.

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