How To Create Wordcloud from a Twitter Hashtag Search Feed in a Few Easy Steps

So I was struggling for a quick hit blog post to publish today (busy:-(, but then I got a tweet from @paulbradshaw asking “Any ideas how you could make mashup showing the frequency of certain words in hashtagged tweets – e.g. tagcloud.”

Hmm – like this maybe?

create word cloud from hashtag feed


[NOTE – you need to encode the hashtag as %23 in the feed URI.]

I call this technique a screencaptutorial… (err….?!)

[UPDATE: I don’t think this hack works any more, at least not directly (I don’t think a link to the RSS feed is provided any more from the search results page. You can however construct a URL that will search or the 100 most recent tweets containing your search term(s): The rpp argument specifies the number of results per page, and the result_type argument gets you the most recent, rather than “most popular” tweets. Note that the SEARCHTERM needs escaping if it’s a multi-word search phrase for example. In this case, space characters get encoded as %20, and punctuation may also need encoding. Use this encoder set to “encodeURI” to encode the URL for you… ]

The screen capture was made using Jing, and the white background comes from an empty text editor document exploded to fill the screen.

For more info on manipulating Twitter search feeds, see Twitter Powered Subtitles for Conference Audio/Videos on Youtube.

PS I’m not sure whether the wordle app generates a static word cloud from a feed, or a more dynamic one? (That is, does it just grab the feed contents at the time the word cloud is created and use those to generate a one-hit word cloud, or does it keep sampling the the feed? If you want a live word cloud, then a better way is to import the feed into a Google spreadsheet, publish the spreadsheet, take a CSV output from it and drop it into Many Eyes wikified. Or create a web page of your own and generate the word cloud from the feed (maybe pulling it into the page as JSON via Yahoo pipe, so you can get around having to use a proxy to pull the feed into the page) using a word cloud javascript library such as Dynacloud, Cloudinizr or Cloudy.

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

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