Thanks to @byjove, today I discovered some nifty things you can do with Twitter’s search function that they bought from Summize. I’d never actually hit the “advanced search” button before, but there are some interesting options presented when you do. Some of the queries you can make include looking specifically for tweets with links, looking for tweets sent from within a certain geographic area and tweets limited to a certain language – which will come in handy for sifting out all the Italian tweets that aren’t talking about Dell Inc. when they include the word dell.
But the most interesting thing that jumped out at me was the ability to search tweets by “attitudes.” You can check if you would like to query tweets with a positive attitude, a negative attitude or asking a question. For example, my friend @RichardatDell seems to be a much happier person than I do based on the frequency of tweets with “positive attitude” that show up in each of our search results. While @DaveWiner, who’s tweets had given me an impression of being somewhat negative (don’t know him personally, so shouldn’t judge, but did), actually doesn’t appear to be so negative that often! And, @omarg is a reporter, so you’d expect him to ask a lot of questions, right?
So is this search really telling us the tone of tweets? Could it be monitoring public sentiment that well? Certainly not. And the clue to how it works is there with the emoticons – smiley and frowny faces next to the positive and negative attitude check boxes. Obviously, the search is only looking for and returning tweets with those in them. And a question simply looks for question marks in tweets.
So, I’m dubbing this emotisearch – not sure if it’s really useful, but it certainly is fun!