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Sat, 15 Feb 14

StrataConf Insider Tweets

StrataConf 2014 was from Feb 11-13, with focus on tools, techniques and learnings for Big Data insights and visualizations. We thought it might be interesting (and oh so meta!) to gather the public activity during the conference and decide which sessions generated interest on twitter.


First off, we are not talking Big Data. Neither are we doing all-out surveillance. Our starting point was a list of 200+ speakers and panelists.

The idea and the plan came together at the last-minute. By the time twitter monitoring was in place, the tweets for the morning of Feb 12 were past the timeline limits. Over roughly 47 hours, we had collected around 2500 tweets from this group of Strata insiders.

The Strata schedule has around nine parallel tracks at most times. We grabbed the .ics file to gather start and end times, and used the full listings to get the ratings information.

Schedule Slots

Tweets By Time

Here is a histogram of tweets over a two-day period with bin-size of 15-minutes. Caveat: Data before noon is underrepresented.

Tweet Times Histogram

Clearly, a lot of tweets happen during and just after keynotes. Tweets really pick up steam around 2p and 5p. Surprisingly, the insiders tweet less during breaks and very little during lunch. One can imagine that hunger, thirst, bodily needs and in-person social conversations trump tweeting.

Finding the Most Tweeted Sessions

Obviously, tweets cannot be related to the session based on time. In addition to the multiplicity of simultaneous tracks, a lot of tweets are not about a particular session. Some thoughtful people tweet well after the session.

What we need is a way to classify a given tweet to match a session.

Features and Classification

Features for session include the title, the speaker and organization. The session description is weighted very low (being quite monotonous in terms such as big data, tools, real-time, cutting-edge, cloud, technologies and such mumbo). Tweets include user mentions and
hashtags in addition to text and are filtered for #strataconf. A modified vector-space tf-idf model was used for classification. Sessions within the time-slot corresponding to the tweet time are given a small boost during the matching process.

Methodology and Error

The classification code was hacked up within a day and half. A random 10% of the tweets were used in fine-tuning the model weights with statistical checks. The resulting classes were sorted by membership count and the top and bottom 10 ranked sessions were manually scanned for mismatched tweets and error counts.

Precision as measured in the top 10 sessions is over 95%, while recall is less at an estimated 85%. However, the distribution and the ranking of the sessions will hold to a high degree of confidence.

Classification Results

Tweet Times Histogram

Of the 151 distinct sessions, at least 120 were associated with one or more tweets. Two sessions proved to be troubling catch-all for tweets (Club Strata and Great Debate) and have been removed from the list with due mention.

Sessions Most Tweeted By Strata Insiders

The list.

  1. The Future Isn’t What it Used to Be, James Burke (100+)
  2. Probabilistic Programming - What, Why, How, and When, Beau Cronin (69)
  3. Bedtime Stories - Learning from Sleep Data, Monica Rogati (62)
  4. Chicago Bars, Prisoner’s Dilemma, and Practical Models in Search, Chris Harland
  5. Survivorship Bias and the Psychology of Luck, David McRaney
  6. Graph All The Things! 11 Graph Data Use Cases That Aren’t Social, Emil Eifrem
  7. Agile Analytics, Neal Ford
  8. Data Transformation - A User-Centric Approach to Accessing and Analyzing Big Data, Joe Hellerstein
  9. Driving the Future of Smart Cities - How to Beat the Traffic, Ian Huston
  10. Movie Reconstruction from Brain Signals - “Mind-Reading”, Bin Yu
  11. The Sidekick Pattern Using Small Data to Increase the Value of Big Data, Abe Gong
  12. Thursday Keynote Welcome, Alistair Croll
  13. Keynote with Ben Fry, Ben Fry
  14. Working With Time Series Data Using Apache Cassandra, Patrick McFadin
  15. Information Visualization for Large-Scale Data Workflows, Michael Conover
  16. Stand Back, I’m Going To Try Science!, Rachel Poulsen
  17. The Last Mile - Challenges and Opportunities in Data Tools, Wes McKinney
  18. Organizing Big Data with the Crowd, Lukas Biewald
  19. How Twitter Monitors Millions of Time-series, Yann Ramin
  20. The Urgent Need to Appify Big Data, Ryan Cunningham
  21. Expressing Yourself in R, Hadley Wickham
  22. MLbase Distributed Machine Learning Made Easy, Ameet Talwalkar

A Few Tweets

Embedded here to provide a flavor of the classification problem.


More can be done better, automatically. Let us know if you find this useful, or would like to see this kind of analysis in some other context.

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