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Geovisual Analytics Approach to Exploring Public Political Discourse on Twitter

ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information. 2015;4(1):337-366 DOI 10.3390/ijgi4010337

 

Journal Homepage

Journal Title: ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information

ISSN: 2220-9964 (Print)

Publisher: MDPI AG

LCC Subject Category: Geography. Anthropology. Recreation: Geography (General)

Country of publisher: Switzerland

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML

 

AUTHORS


Jonathan K. Nelson (GeoVISTA Center, Department of Geography, Penn State University, State College, PA 16801, USA)

Sterling Quinn (GeoVISTA Center, Department of Geography, Penn State University, State College, PA 16801, USA)

Brian Swedberg (GeoVISTA Center, Department of Geography, Penn State University, State College, PA 16801, USA)

Wanghuan Chu (Department of Statistics, Penn State University, State College, PA 16801, USA)

Alan M. MacEachren (GeoVISTA Center, Department of Geography, Penn State University, State College, PA 16801, USA)

EDITORIAL INFORMATION

Blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 11 weeks

 

Abstract | Full Text

We introduce spatial patterns of Tweets visualization (SPoTvis), a web-based geovisual analytics tool for exploring messages on Twitter (or “tweets”) collected about political discourse, and illustrate the potential of the approach with a case study focused on a set of linked political events in the United States. In October 2013, the U.S. Congressional debate over the allocation of funds to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly known as the ACA or “Obamacare”) culminated in a 16-day government shutdown. Meanwhile the online health insurance marketplace related to the ACA was making a public debut hampered by performance and functionality problems. Messages on Twitter during this time period included sharply divided opinions about these events, with many people angry about the shutdown and others supporting the delay of the ACA implementation. SPoTvis supports the analysis of these events using an interactive map connected dynamically to a term polarity plot; through the SPoTvis interface, users can compare the dominant subthemes of Tweets in any two states or congressional districts. Demographic attributes and political information on the display, coupled with functionality to show (dis)similar features, enrich users’ understandings of the units being compared. Relationships among places, politics and discourse on Twitter are quantified using statistical analyses and explored visually using SPoTvis. A two-part user study evaluates SPoTvis’ ability to enable insight discovery, as well as the tool’s design, functionality and applicability to other contexts.