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Juxtaposing Latent Social Networks (or #JustinBieber Versus #TeaParty)

One of the most fascinating aspects of data mining is that it affords you the ability to discover new knowledge from existing information. There really is something to be said for the old adage that “knowledge is power,” and it’s especially true in an age where the amount of information available is steadily growing with no indication of decline. As an interesting exercise, let’s see what we can discover about some of the latent social networks that exist in the sea of Twitter data. The basic approach we’ll take is to collect some focused data on two or more topics in a specific way by searching on a particular hashtag, and then apply some of the same metrics we coded up in the previous section (where we analyzed Tim’s tweets) to get a feel for the similarity between the networks.

Since there’s no such thing as a “stupid question,” let’s move forward in the spirit of famed economist Steven D. Levitt[33] and ask the question, “What do #TeaParty and #JustinBieber have in common?”[34]

Example 5-14 provides a simple mechanism for collecting approximately the most recent 1,500 tweets (the maximum currently returned by the search API) on a particular topic and storing them away in CouchDB. Like other listings you’ve seen earlier in this chapter, it includes simple map/reduce logic to incrementally update the tweets in the event that you’d like to run it over a longer period of time to collect a larger batch of data than ...

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