Terrorism makes Twitter sad

Our math-inclined friends, Peter Dodds and Chris Danforth (I call them by their familiar names because I grown to know them) in Vermont (technically, the Computational Story Lab, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Vermont Complex Systems Center, Vermont Advanced Computing Core of the University of Vermont), are at it again with Twitter. I’ve known people addicted to this simpleton’s form of social media, but these guys take the cake. We saw not too long ago how they have been advertising to get big government data-mining contracts with a paper which proved that people on vacation make happier tweets.

If you weren’t wowed by the data collection and graphical presentation of (truth be told) an obvious and uninteresting conclusion, then this may change your mind. They have unleashed a hedonometer, evidently a measure of hedonism, and even created its own website, where you can see the amount of hedonism that has taken place on Twitter for the past 5 years. Granted this graphic is not as impressive as those that accompanied the paper on happy vacation tweets. But we can take from it a somber message, at least according to an article in a pretty-dumbed down science news site. According to the hedonometer, the saddest day in the past 5 years,on Twitter,  was April 15, 2013. The hedonometer only reads English, so I expect the sadness was not appreciably caused by the 75 people killed and over 350 people seriously injured in terrorist attacks in Iraq that day. Evidently this has to do almost exclusively with the bombings in Boston.

It is a good thing that the American broadcast media has given up, almost completely, all coverage of events outside the U.S. and never has any sort of live foreign coverage (much lest “wall-to-wall” as they used to say). Otherwise Twitter might be a perennial downer. Even so  I expect Dodds and Danforth would mine it for something.

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