Thanks to a recommendation by Josef Šlerka (@josefslerka) I got a chance to speak at WebExpo 14 (#webexpo) about some of my work using Google Sheets for Twitter data mining and analysis. I’m always get uneasy at speaking at events for web professionals/developers about spreadsheets as … it is spreadsheets.
Dangers aside, particularly ‘spreadsheet addiction’, hopefully I was able to covey the possibilities of using Google Apps Script turbocharged Google Sheets. To do this I focused on some of the work I’ve been doing interacting with the Twitter search API. I’m sure many people are familiar with the Twitter Archiving Google Sheet (TAGS) but perhaps not aware of some of the experiments I’ve used it for. Some of these include:
- Using the Viralheat Sentiment API and a Google Spreadsheet of conference tweets to find out how that keynote went down (2011)
- Using Google Spreadsheets as a data source to analyse extended Twitter conversations in NodeXL (and Gephi) (2011)
- Using Google Spreadsheets to combine Twitter and Google Analytics data to find your top content distributors (2012)
- Automatic translation of TAGS Twitter archives using Google Apps Script ‘Language’ services (2012)
- Making a Twitter Hashtag Contributor Map using TAGS (2014)
(I was surprised myself to discover the whole project started in 2010)
After my talk it was great that some fellow educators came to speak to me interested in using Google Apps Script for social data mining as part of their curriculum. Slides for my talk and abstract are at the end of this post and the link bundle is here and the #webexpo TAGS archive is here.
Thanks also to my fellow GDE Ivan Kutil for capturing a picture of me dwarfed by one of my own sheets.
There is growing interest in the use of data to provide actionable insight. This interest goes beyond the professional analysts and just as fields such as mathematics and astronomy have benefited from the enthusiastic amateur so does data science. Social networks are a rich playground of data and whilst many provide access to their data via APIs but access via this route can be daunting. You can of course turn to 'analytics as a service' sites which will take your credentials and provide you with some answers, but often this can be what they want to tell you and not what you want to hear. A solution is the spreadsheet. Spreadsheets provide an interface for data exploration for those with basic skills. With Google Sheets the opportunities increase exponentially, not just in terms of collaboration, but also with the power of Google Apps Script. Apps Script provides easy integration into other Google products and services, such as Google Analytics, as well as third party APIs like Twitter. In this presentation we show how Google Sheets can become a rich playground where data from different services can be collected and analysed.