Tag Archives: #TAGSExplorer


The use of Twitter to collecting tweets around an event hashtag allowing participants to share and contribute continues to grow and has even become part of mass media events, various TV shows now having and publicising their own tag. This resource is often lost in time, only tiny snippets being captured in blog posts or summaries using tools like Storify, which often loose the richness of individual conversations between participants.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Using a combination of Google Spreadsheets as a data source and a simple web interface to add interactivity it’s possible to let users explorer your entire event hashtag and replay any of conversations.

View example conversation replay

Try out a LIVE version

Update: If you are still struggling to understand the concept Radical Punch have done a overview of this tool

Here's how to archive event hashtags and create an interactive visualization of the conversation (written instructions below):

Twitter: How to archive event hashtags and create an interactive visualization of the conversation

Capturing the tweets

Use this Google Spreadsheet template. Newer version of the template here

For more reliable data collection it's recommended that you follow the steps to get authenticated API access to Twitter search results and setup a 'script trigger' to automate collection. Here are instructions on how to do it: Twitter now requires authenticated access. An updated version of the template and revised instructions is here.

  1. Open the TAGS Google Spreadsheet making a copy
  2. Register for an API key with Twitter at http://dev.twitter.com/apps/new. In the form these are the important bits:
    • Application Website = anything you like
    • Application Type = Browser
    • Callback URL = https://spreadsheets.google.com/macros
    • Default Access type = Read-only
  3. Once finished filling in the form and accepting Twitter's terms and conditions you'll see a summary page which includes a Consumer Key and Consumer Secret
  4. Back in the Google Spreadsheet select Twitter > API Authentication (you'll need to select this option twice, the first time to authorise read/write access to the spreadsheet). Paste in your Consumer Key and Secret from the previous step and click 'Save' (if the Twitter menu is not visible click on the blue button to show it)
  5. From the spreadsheet select Tools > Script Editor ... and then Run > authenticate and Authorize the script with Twitter using your Twitter account
  6. While still in the Script Editor window select Triggers > Current script's triggers... and Add a new trigger. Select to run 'collectTweets' as a 'Time-driven' choosing a time period that suits your search (I usually collect 1500 tweets once a day, but increase to hourly during busy periods eg during a conference). Click 'Save'
  7. Now close the Script Editor window. Back in the main spreadsheet on the Readme/Settings sheet enter the following settings (starting in cell B9):
    • Who are you = any web address that identifies you or your event
    • Search term = what you are looking for eg #jiscel11
    • Period = default
    • No. results = 1500 (this is the maximum Twitter allows)
    • Continuous/paged = continuous
  8. Click TAGS > Run Now! to check you are collecting results into a 'Archive' sheet
  9. To allow the results to be visualised from the spreadsheet select File > Publish to the web... You can choose to Publish All sheets or just the  Archive sheet. Make sure Automatically republish when changes are made is ticked and click Start publishing

Creating a public interactive visualisation of the archived tweets

  1. Copy the url of the spreadsheet you just created
  2. Visit http://hawksey.info/tagsexplorer and paste your spreadsheet url in the box, then click 'get sheet names'
  3. When it loads the sheet names leave it on the default 'Archive' and click 'go'
  4. You now have a visualisation of your spreadsheet archive (click on nodes to delve deeper)
  5. To share the visualisation at the top right-click 'link for this' which is a permanent link (as your archive grows and the spreadsheet is republished this visualisation will automatically grow)