Patrick Meier: Twitter as a Community Nervous System

Crowd-Sourcing, Culture, Data, Geospatial, Governance, P2P / Panarchy, Politics, Resilience, Transparency
Patrick Meier
Patrick Meier

Taking the Pulse of the Boston Marathon Bombings on Twitter

Social media networks are evolving a new nervous system for our planet. These real-time networks provide immediate feedback loops when media-rich societies experience a shock. My colleague Todd Mostak recently shared the tweet map below with me which depicts tweets referring to “marathon” (in red) shortly after the bombs went off during Boston’s marathon. The green dots represent all the other tweets posted at the time. Click on the map to enlarge. (It is always difficult to write about data visualizations of violent events because they don’t capture the human suffering, thus seemingly minimizing the tragic events).

Click on Image to Enlarge
Click on Image to Enlarge

Visualizing a social system at this scale gives a sense that we’re looking at a living, breathing organism, one that has just been wounded. This impression is even more stark in the dynamic visualization captured in the video below.

Read full post with additional video and graphics.