How to search Twitter bios for data with Twiangulate

We've enabled search for Twitter bios. This should be useful for journalists and researchers trying to dig out new sources or to quantify the importance of a particular type of personality on Twitter. I've done some quick digging and turned up a bunch of fun factlets and trendoids.

Journalists and Twitter

For example, if you're an analyst trying to get a grip on which newspapers are making the biggest inroads on Twitter, you might be interested to note that the search for "New York Times" (x "author" and "bestseller) turns up 421 tweeps, while the same search for the Washington Post turns up only 247 tweeps. The same search for Wall Street Journal turns up 202 tweeps.

It's interesting to note that WSJ's top 50 tweeps are almost all "house" accounts -- for example "WSJ Health" and "WSJ Real Estate" -- rather than individual journalists.

Does this reflect a relative lack of name-brand journalists at WSJ versus NYT and WAPO, or, more likely, a WSJ corporate policy against professional tweeting? (And if the latter, is Rupert Murdoch seeking to keep his journalists from building cachet that would give them more leverage in haggling over salary?)

Causes and Twitter

What does it mean that 724 tweeps include NRA in their Twitter bios, while just 67 tweeps self-identify as Sierra Club members.

There are 6,240 "liberal" tweeps , 11,259 "conservative" tweeps, 4,234 "progressive" tweeps. 1,269 mention TCOT.


45,120 tweeps mention Boston while 33,666 mention Dallas. (Relative to population, Dallas should have roughly twice as many tweeps as Boston.)


6,751 tweeps mention cancer in their bios, 1,155 mention diabetes


Fully 2,007 tweeps mention the Red Sox, overshadowed by the 3,110 tweeps mentioningYankee. 425 tweeps are Tarheels, 1,126 mention Harvard and 709 mention Yale.

Speaking of sports, 10,272 tweeps are runners, 8,167 tweeps mention tennis and 17,594 mention golf.

Fun video explaining how to use Twiangulate to jump start a great list of Twitter friends

Created by Christopher Spenn:

Thank you @cspenn!


Mapping Twitter lists

You can now map of Twitter Lists with Twiangulate.

For example, here's a map of Jeff Jarvis' Media Wonks list.  The full list of 192 tweeps doesn't map well -- this is an <strike>incestuous</strike> highly networked world.  So the map defaults to display only those tweeps with bilateral links (as opposed to a one directional follow) with more than 10% of the people on the list.

It's interesting to note that Jay Rosen, of NYC, is mutual friends with 88% of the people on the list.  There's lots of other good data to mine here -- we'll be getting to that soon.

To build a map, look for "Build a map" in the navigation cluster at the top of the page.  To view maps other people have built go to "Group maps."

Webs or trees?

Looking at efficient networks, Wired reports: "Tree branches have inspired efficient transit networks, but a new study
finds inspiration in leaves. The curvy, connected leaf veins found in
some plants are an efficient way to circumvent damaged areas and
channel nutrients, report researchers led by Eleni Katifori of the
Rockefeller University in New York City."


Mapping lists of tweeps, Twitter users at conferences and panels

Need to map an ad hoc list of tweeps attending a map or conference?  This is your tool!   Just give the map a name, add some tweeps, then share new maps the URL.

a) map of some tweeps attending the SUXORZ panel during SMWNYC in February 2010.
b) map of some tweeps attending the AnalyticsCamp at Chapel Hill, February 6, 2010.

Watching for new common Twitter friends

The Watch List will notify you when two or three tweeps you've targeted jointly follow someone new.  

Good for finding rising stars in an industry, a competitor's new customer, or a new hire in a company.

We DM you personal updates weekly after your target tweeps follow someone new.

To create a watch list, click "create a watch" at the top of the table after you've Twiangulated "common friends."  To edit past Watches, click the "Watch List" link top right on most pages.

Smallest Twitter friends

Want to know who matters to someone? 

It's usually not the biggest tweeps someone follows -- heck almost everyone follows  @BarackObama, @PerezHilton and @Mashable. 

It's the smallest, the tweeps with just 36 or 281 followers.  

In the "under the radar" list, you more likely find a tweeter's  lawyer, sister, high school BFF, 40-something-mentor-just-getting-on-twitter, and/or cubicle-mate.

Mapping those people often yields the most meaningful insights into a tweeter's social graph.


Who follows the same tweeps

This search shows which influential followers that two or three tweeps have in common.

(To eliminate the noise of the millions of spam tweeps and focus on intentional follows, we limit the results to tweeps who follow fewer than 11k people who have 1.5 times more followers than friends.)

This search can help reveal who cares about the same set of ideas, domain of information, or corporate structure.  This can be a good place to find new people follow. 

The people on this list may not be stars, but they've made follow decisions that suggest they feel strongly about a person or topic.


Who do tweeps follow in common?

Use this search to determine who two or three tweeps follow in common.  This is the killer search if you want to understand a social graph.  

* Enter the names of three senior people at a given company and you not only get the names of almost everyone (with a Twitter account) who works with them, but you can see who the smallest player is who has their ear.
* Enter three experts' names and you can see who they all rely on for news and information.
* If you're looking to recruit within a given company, mapping the cross section of tweeps followed by three people in that company uncovers lots of additional players, some of whom have lots of influence.


Learning to be a great teacher

Is a man with a 4.0 GPA and a masters degree in education likely to be better at teaching in an inner city school than a woman with a BA in history who had a 2.5 GPA in her first two years of college and a 4.0 her junior and senior year?

All other things being equal, the slacker-turned-star history major is probably the better teacher.

Teach for America, which last year sent 4,100 recent college graduates to teach at schools in lower-income neighborhoods, has turned hiring great teachers into a science.  In this month's Atlantic magazine, Amanda Ripley does a tremendous job profiling TFA and what it has learned about what makes a great teacher.  

Each year TFA evaluates 35,000 applicants on 30 different datapoints.  After their hires have taught for a year, TFA cross-references these characteristics against how much each teacher's students have advanced during the year. 

What to look for in hiring an aspiring teacher? According to Ripley, TFA looked at the data it's been gathering on job candidates since 1990 and identified these qualities as correlating strongly with a recruit's success:

Grit: "those who initially scored high for 'grit' -- defined as perseverance and passion for long-term goals, and measured using a short multiple-chosce test-- were 31% more likely than their less gritty peers to spur academic growth in their students."

Happiness: Teachers who reported they were very content with their lives were 43% more likely to achieve great results in the classroom.

Achievement: "Recruits who have achieved big, measurable goals in college tend to do so as teacher. And the two best metric of previous success tend to be grade-point average and 'leadership achievement' -- a record of running something and showing tangible results." But a 4.0 isn't essential: "an applicant's college GPA alone is not as good a predictor as the GPA in the final two years of college."

XX chromosomes: It turns out "women are more likely to be effective in Teach for America."

TFA also discovered that two factors that were expected to predict successful teaching -- prior experience working in poor neighborhoods or a masters in education -- had no correlation with classroom success.

All these characteristics are hard for a teacher to change post-facto.  But it turns out there are a bunch of strategies that teachers can learn. These are detailed in a new book called Teaching as Leadership by Steven Farr, a former TFA teacher who now studies exceptionally effective TFA teachers.

According to Ripley, in studying TFA's best teachers, Farr found that "great teachers tended to set big goals for their students. They were perpetually looking for ways to improve their effectiveness.... Great teachers, he concluded, constantly re-evaluate what they are doing.  Superstar teachers had four other tendencies in common: they avidly recruited students and their families into the process; they maintained focus, ensuring that everything they did contributed to student learning; they planned exhaustively and purposefully -- for the next day or the year ahead -- by working backward from the desired outcome; and they worked relentlessly, refusing to surrender to the combined menaces of poverty, bureaucracy, and budgetary shortfalls."

Does all this work?  By refining its hiring and teacher training, TFA has nearly doubled the number of its teachers who advance their students more than 1.5 educational years in a single school year.

One last resource: TFA's strategies for teachers are promoted at