As was already noted on the Allegra Blog, I spent a lot of my time at this year’s AAA meetings conversing on twitter (I also spoke on a panel on technology and higher education, which @DonnaLanclos blogged about on the Anthropologist in the Stacks).  Since so much of my communication with fellow anthropologists has moved to twitter, I decided to experiment with archiving the #AAA2013 hashtag as a way to explore how conversations and networks developed over the course of the conference.

Using Martin Hawksey’s (@mhawksey) Twitter Archiving Google Spreadsheet (TAGS) v5.1, I set up a script to automatically collect all #AAA2013 tagged tweets and save them to a Google spreadsheet.  My goal is to use this dataset to do some basic social network analysis and topic modelling of the AAA twittersphere, but since that will take me some time, I decided to go ahead an post some of the preliminary information.

First, a few caveats:  archiving tweets in this manner is limited both by the capabilites of Google spreadsheets and the Twitter API.  I therefore can not guarantee that every #AAA2013 tagged tweet is included.  For example, sometime Friday night the script began picking up a large number of duplicate tweets, which caused it to exceed the maximum number of row for a Google spreadsheet and crash the script.  I didn’t catch this error until late Saturday, so there may be a gap in the timeline (I believe I was able to retroactively correct this).  Also, since there were so many duplicates, it is  possible that some non-duplicate tweets were filtered out (again, I think I have corrected for this).  If anyone else has another dataset, I would be happy to compare.  Finally, there were certainly many tweets conversations related to the AAA meetings that did not include the official hashtag for a variety of reasons (for example, users may strategically omit the hashtag from some tweets so that it is not seen by everyone following the the feed), so there may be relevant topics that are not encompassed by this data.

The basic statistics and an interactive network for the dataset are available here (Thanks again to Martin Hawksey).


A high level summary is as follows (current as of the morning of 12/3/2013):

8307 tweets were recorded.  Of these, 3256 (39%) were retweets.  1218 accounts used the #aaa2013 hashtag at least once (and 657 used it only once) .  The mean number of tweets per person was 6.82, while the median was 1.

The top 10 accounts by number of tweets were:

@Johnleetao (396)
@DonnaLanclos (334)
@AmericanAnthro (288)
@culanth (285)
@GregDowney1 (281)
@SocMedAnthro (170)
@Chris_Ly (168)
@drjavafox (154)
@CMcGranahan (146)
@akvbroek (136)

In future posts I’ll be looking into the network formed by the #AAA2013 hashtag, as well as the most prevalent topics discussed in the dataset.