Capture Publications Tools Twitter — Snurb, 23 April 2012
Tracking Twitter: yourTwapperkeeper and Other Options

Well, it was about time we refreshed the look of Mapping Online Publics – hope you like it… A few posts on recent activities have been held up while we were working on the redesign, so expect some catch-up articles over the next little while.

First off the rank: with one of our colleagues at the National Cheng Chi University in Taipei, Eugene Liang (whom Jean and I visited in October last year), I’ve just published a new article in First Monday which reviews some options for tracking user activities on Twitter. Our focus here is largely on doing so in the context of crisis communication, but much of what we have to say also translates to other applications.

My contribution to the paper is to outline what we’ve been able to do by using yourTwapperkeeper (and more details on this are all over this Website, of course), while Eugene takes us beyond that approach to discuss the work which he and his colleagues have done in developing a more comprehensive, custom-made platform for tracking Twitter activities at scale. Abstract below:

Tools and Methods for Capturing Twitter Data during Natural Disasters

Axel Bruns and Eugene Liang Yuxian

During the course of several natural disasters in recent years, Twitter has been found to play an important role as an additional medium for many–to–many crisis communication. Emergency services are successfully using Twitter to inform the public about current developments, and are increasingly also attempting to source first–hand situational information from Twitter feeds (such as relevant hashtags). The further study of the uses of Twitter during natural disasters relies on the development of flexible and reliable research infrastructure for tracking and analysing Twitter feeds at scale and in close to real time, however. This article outlines two approaches to the development of such infrastructure: one which builds on the readily available open source platform yourTwapperkeeper to provide a low–cost, simple, and basic solution; and, one which establishes a more powerful and flexible framework by drawing on highly scaleable, state–of–the–art technology.

About the Author

Dr Axel Bruns leads the QUT Social Media Research Group. He is an ARC Future Fellow and Professor in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. Bruns is the author of Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond: From Production to Produsage (2008) and Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production (2005), and a co-editor of Twitter and Society, A Companion to New Media Dynamics and Uses of Blogs (2006). He is a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation. His research Website is at, and he tweets as @snurb_dot_info.

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(1) Reader Comment

  1. Hi Prof Bruns,

    I’ve been trying to figure out a way to meet the computational challenges resulting from the execution of, for ex., preparegexfattimeintervals.awk script. I’ve created an EC2 instance on AWS but then realized the increased computation capabilities does not necessarily suffice to execute such scripts on cloud servers as fast. I’m wondering if you have any plan to write something about these issues soon? Since Twitter attracts more and more highly engaged users the rate of expansion of these archives are exponentially mounting and resulting in great limitations for home users when processing data. I’m sure it would tremendously help many researchers around the world.