Two Public Social Media Timepieces: An Archival Wheel and an Emotion Flower-Clock by CSIRO Data61

The State Library of New South Wales collects material to provide a documentary record of life in one of the largest Australian states. The documentary record of life in New South Wales is now, more than ever, digital. To showcase the library’s efforts in managing the archive of public social media about life in the state, the library partnered with CSIRO’s Data61 group, the data science wing of Australian’s publically funded science organisation. The archive data is collected using Data61’s social media analysis tool, Vizie, which collects public data from multiple platforms (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook Public Pages).

A joint team from the library and Data61 co-designed a web application to allow the general public to interact with the archive. This application consists of two user interfaces. The first is a “Live” interface, which provides a real-time view of the collection process. The second is an “Explorer” interface, which allows interested users to sift through aggregate statistics generated from historical data.

The Live (real-time) interface, the principle submission to this award, is immediately available as the landing page to this web-application. Its exhibition-style non-interactive display fosters conversations about the collecting of social media and life in New South Wales. It contains with two circular time-pieces designed to reflect the changing contents and emotions found in the online public discussions about life in the Australian state of New South Wales.

The left timepiece, “Collection Activity”, is content-based and is designed to reflect the categories of the library’s social media collecting framework. The visualisation rotates through each of the nine top-level categories, such as “Arts”, “Environment”, “Indigenous”, and “Politics”, and provides a word cloud visualisation to display the last two hours’ worth of content for these subjects. These word clouds contain the online language about salient events used by the people in New South Wales and represents a snapshot of what is important at the current time. The inner rings indicate subcategories and also their relative volume.

Complementing the content-based visualisation, the right side displays an “Emotion (Flower) Clock”. The clock resets each hour but as time passes, each of the sixty petals represents a minute and is coloured according to the proportions of emotion-based content for all data retrieved during that minute. We use an emotion-based dictionary to tag social media posts according to six primary emotions: Fear, Anger, Sadness, Love, Joy and Surprise.

The “Explorer” interactive interface, allows one to drill into the aggregate statistics. By default, a week’s worth of content is presented. One can click on the histogram bars for the charts for activities or social media type to refine the dataset being viewed. For the dataset in focus, the interface presents the top emotions, hashtags, and keywords detected. Geotagged content is displayed in the map of NSW and greater Sydney. Of note are the top shared news articles during this week. This is another representation of what people in the State found interesting.