Researchers at the Queensland University of Technology have created the first map of the Australian “Twittersphere” to chart the relationships between the country’s 2 million Twitter users.
Despite resembling an unsightly yellow blob, the sophisticated algorithm charts the connections of Twitter users, the topics they follow and the inter-relationships of their networks.
The researchers claim the map can be used as the equivalent of television ratings or newspaper circulation figures.
The green dots represent topics or popular people, such as Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The yellow dots represent the strength of their following. The algorithm draws together subject matters that related users follow, such as news and politics, sport, investment and music.
“If you could imagine a rubber band between each connection,” Associate Professor Axel Bruns said. “If I follow you, I am pulling you towards me and if you follow me, you are pulling me towards you. If I am not following someone else, I am essentially pushing them away.”
For example, a strong connection of “hardline conservatives” on the outer left of the map is far removed from a strong connection of food, beer and wine on the upper right of the map.
“There are very few connections from them to the connections that have beer and wine in them. That doesn’t mean they are not interested in alcohol but they are not formally linked on Australian Twitter,” Professor Bruns said.
Other topics on the fringes of the map such as Justin Bieber, Evangelicals and Adelaide mean their followers are less connected to the rest of Australian Twitter.
This article was oringinally published in the Australian Financial Review. Read the original article.