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This article was published on July 23, 2010

Twitter Maps America’s Mood in Real Time

Twitter Maps America’s Mood in Real Time

What’s the mood in the US? To answer the question, researchers from Northeastern University and Harvard College fed about 300 million tweets to a system based on ANEW (Affective Norms for English Words, from the University of Florida), which assigns a positive or negative emotional value to words. They then projected the results to a tweet density-dependent US map, so that the greater the amount of tweets originating from some location, the larger the land area at this location.

The word-by-word ANEW rating is a pretty rudimentary model when one wants to capture the mood of a complex sentence, even limited to 140 characters. Tweeting “I love death metal” may be misinterpreted as negative because of the word “death”. Regardless of the study’s imperfections, it results in a pretty cool video showing the American mood evolving over two days. The West Coast is clearly showing as happier than the East Coast. The best mood occurs in the morning and evening, with a low between noon and 3PM. And not surprisingly, the weekend is where the most positive mood is expressed.