VIII.9 Language Communities of Twitter

Languages: English | Español | 汉语 | Deutsch | Polski

Eric Fischer

Languages divide and unite. Eric Fischer majored in linguistics in college before becoming known for making maps, and he combined the two to make this map of Twitter activity around the world. Shown are geotagged tweets from May 14 to October 20, 2011, recorded using the Twitter streaming API. Each dot is a tweet. If there are many tweets at the same location, they diffuse outward but fade with distance. Dots are color-coded by language using Chrome's open-source language detector. English tweets are gray; other colors are optimized for maximum distinguishability. Labels on the right name those languages that have more than 10,000 tweets. No national boundaries are shown, yet a map of Europe emerges. The Netherlands has the highest density of tweets. In some areas, Twitter usage seems to follow the spines of the transportation networks—see central Spain and along the Trans-Siberian Railway in Russia. Overall, the map gives an indication as to the level of our social-networking obsession—some parts of the world are highly active while others are lost in the dark.


Fischer, Eric. 2012. Language Communities of Twitter. Courtesy of Eric Fischer. In “8th Iteration (2012): Science Maps for Kids,” Places & Spaces: Mapping Science, edited by Katy Börner and Michael J. Stamper.

Fischer, Eric. 2011. Language Communities of Twitter. Flickr. Last modified October 24.

Acknowledgements: This exhibit is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. IIS-0238261, CHE-0524661, IIS-0534909 and IIS-0715303, the James S. McDonnell Foundation; Thomson Reuters; the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center, University Information Technology Services, and the School of Library and Information Science, all three at Indiana University. Some of the data used to generate the science maps is from the Web of Science by Thomson Reuters and Scopus by Elsevier. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.