SXSW Interactive 2014

Beyond Dots on a Map: The Future of Mapping Tweets

What can 3 billion geotagged Tweets collected over 18 months tell us? Turns out, a lot. Gnip collaborated with the team at Mapbox to study 3 billion geotagged Tweets in aggregate and visualize the results. That work led to 3 maps showing iOS vs Android usage, where tourists vs. local hang out, and language usage patterns. From just these maps there were some surprising findings revealing demographic, cultural and social patterns down to city level detail, across the entire world. For instance in the US, Tweets from iOS showed where the wealthy live ( The data has many other stories to tell as well.

As Twitter use becomes more ubiquitous, it’s increasingly serving as a valid proxy not just for what’s happening “on social media,” but for what’s happening in the world in general. This is the first time social data has been mapped at this scale, and we’ll talk about both lessons gleaned from the data and what we learned about making this big of a visualizations.

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  1. What kind of patterns and techniques for analyzing big data sets can be learned from this work?
  2. What else can be learned from working with Twitter geo data?
  3. What’s the future of mapping Twitter data look like?
  4. What opportunities exist for mapping other social data sources?
  5. What kind of considerations go into creating accurate and honest data visualizations?


  • Ian Cairns, Product Manager, Gnip
  • Eric Gundersen, CEO, Gnip


Ian Cairns, Product Manager, Gnip

Meta Information:

  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Dual
  • Track: Design and Development
  • Track 2
  • Level: Intermediate
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