Cornell scientists use Twitter to capture global mood, chronobiology

English: The content of tweets on Twitter, bas...
English: The content of tweets on Twitter, based on the data gathered by Pear Analytics in 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most adults I know dismissed Twitter, with only 140 characters at their disposal, as a waste of time just a year ago. But after the Iranian revolts, the Arab Spring and the London riots in which Twitter played a key part, it is not so easily dismissed anymore. But its seemingly brief and trivial nature is now proving to be its key advantage: it provides  a constant thermometer of public sentiment with a time stamp and tidy little packaging. Just as molecular biology has allowed us to reduce physical life to traceable and analyzable bits ready for computers to digest, so is Twitter creating those bits out of our social experience. And this is the realm of anthropology.

One recent article examines several  Cornell social scientists who are doing just that, analyzing 509 million tweets, gathered between February 2008 and January 2010, using linguistic software to score their positivity based on word choices. The noted a mood timeline for 2.4 million individuals from 84 countries, and noted that happiness has a peak in the morning (see graph below from their website, before the typical workday begins, and then fades as the day progresses, only to climb again late in the day. Rather be due to work (as one would expect) they suggest it is due to biology since it occurs on weekends as well (explaining our love of sleeping in, as it delays the high).

Science and Twitter #mixwell –

Cornell University Information Science

Cornell has a great Information science program as well…

Cornell University – Information Science – Overview.