By now it’s common knowledge that the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death broke on Twitter. Donald Rumsfeld’s Chief of Staff, the fresh-faced Keith Urbahn, was the first credible source to issue the news on Sunday at 10:24pm ET, long before President Obama spoke, and Urbahn’s tweet was the one that went viral.
All this we knew — but now, with an exhaustive analysis of 15 million tweets by New York company Social Flow, we can actually see Urbahn’s post exploding into the Twitterverse. “Within a minute, more than 80 people had already reposted the message,” the company writes in its blog post. “Within two minutes, over 300 reactions to the original post were spreading through the network.”
Social Flow’s visualization, above, also reveals a new and previously little-known player in the Urbahn tweet drama: New York Times digital media reporter Brian Stelter. He’s at the center of the second dandelion-like hub of retweets, at bottom right in the picture. Other Twitter accounts played their part in passing the news from one of these highly influential Tweeters to another, including @ObamaNews and @LaughingSquid — the latter being a San Francisco-based website full of quirky ephemera.
What can we learn from this chart? That trustworthiness, in a universe of tweeters spouting all sorts of speculation, is more important than ever. Urbahn, 27, didn’t shout about his insider connections, but enough people read his bio to understand that he was likely to have good sources inside the Pentagon. And for all the talk of Twitter making journalists of us all, it seems we still desire validation from a reporter from a major media organization.
And maybe — just maybe — the number of followers you have on Twitter matters less than who and how active they are. Urbahn didn’t have a record-breaking number of followers (who then numbered a little more than 1,000, or about 6,000 fewer than he has now), but his tweet went viral nonetheless, thanks to those followers going to bat for him. Stetler has more than 55,000 followers and tweets obsessively, but ultimately his influence was slightly less important here than Urbahn’s.
“Keith Urbahn wasn’t the first to speculate Bin Laden’s death, but he was the one who gained the most trust from the network,” writes Social Flow. “And with that, the perfect situation unfolded, where timing, the right social-professional networked audience, along with a critically relevant piece of information led to an explosion of public affirmation of his trustworthiness.”
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Bloom Studio, which was founded by three stewards of data science and visualization, is working on a suite of iOS applications that present social media and streaming data in playful visualizations with personal context.
Bloom, which refers to its applications as “instruments,” is now pushing its first iOS release, Planetary, through the Apple App Store approval process, just as co-founders Ben Cerveny, Tom Carden and Jesper Andersen are closing the company’s seed round of funding.
Planetary turns music data into a solar system-inspired visualization experience. In the app, music is sourced is from the user’s iPod library and reconstructed so artists are seen as stars, albums as planets and tracks as moons. The user can fly between entities to build playlists.
“It’s about seeing your collection in a new way,” says Cerveny, who shares that the application will understand the relationships between songs, genres and artists. Future versions of Planetary will incorporate streaming music services — think Rdio or Spotify — and work the user’s social graph into the galaxy to allow for new music discovery.
Planetary is just one of many little instruments that Bloom is working on. The startup aims to present the user with new ways of understanding, interacting with and acting on data visualizations for many social data streams. They’re all playful and game-like visual search applications, says Cerveny. He hints that a visualization around Netflix is in the works and that the startup will eventually bring these instruments of discovery to the living room.
To finance its endeavors, Bloom has closed a seed round of funding led by Betaworks with participation from Ron Conway’s SV Angel and individual investors. Cerveny says the financing will provide the four-person, San Francisco-based team with enough funds to operate through the year. Bloom is actively considering a follow-on addition to the seed round.
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Think you’re good at creating infographics? Then you may want to enter Google’s latest contest.
Google is offering a top prize of $5,000 for its Data Viz Challenge, a contest to see who can offer the best visualization of data about where your tax money goes. The contest, announced on Google’s Official Blog today, is based on a website called whatwepayfor.com, which was created by a couple of developers: Andrew Johnson and Lewis Garcia.
Impressed with the pair’s site, Google engineers came up with their own “interactive data visualization” or infographic:
But the company acknowledges that its infographic has its limitations. So, Google has teamed up with not-for-profit art and technology center Eyebeam for the challenge. To make things easier, Johnson and Garcia have built an API to let any potential developer access the data.
Those interested can enter the challenge at the site referenced above. The contest starts today and ends on March 27. The winner will be announced on April 18, aka Tax Day.
Though Google isn’t a company that many people associate with promotions and contests, this is the second such contest this month from the search giant. Earlier this month, Google used a similar promotion to publicize its wedding-planning site.
Image courtesy of iStock, Fullerene
More About: Contests, data visualizations, Google, infographics
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Apple is holding an event in San Francisco on March 2, and many feel the company is getting ready to unveil the newest version of the highly successful iPad.
Kara Swisher of All Things D writes that “multiple sources” say the iPad 2 is coming and will be announced and demoed at this event.
We’ve been monitoring (and doing our best to critically examine) a slew of iPad 2 rumors since the screens on our original iPads first got smudged. Here are the rumors we think are more or less likely to have some basis in fact:The iPad 2 might come in three different versions with different connectivity — including a Verizon version that won’t require a MiFi card.The iPad 2 might have front- and rear-facing cameras.The iPad 2 will be slimmer, lighter and support Retina Display.The iPad 2 might have a dual-core CPU and/or GPU.The iPad 2 will have a non-smudge screen and a gyroscope.
Given the phenomenal sales figures of the original iPad, we’re excited to see what comes next from the manufacturer — and how it plans to keep up and compete with the increasing diversity and agility of its competitors, especially Android tablet manufacturers.
Image courtesy of Flickr, fhke
More About: data visualization, data visualizations, design, Google, information design, tax, tax data
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