A little while ago, Paula told me she was interested in reconstructing the Twitter stream that happened last year around Bill 44 (PDF and if you want a summary, Ken has a great one). She tried using Twitter Search but quickly found that it only goes back so far, so she asked if I could help. With a few caveats, I said I could.
The first caveat is that the tweets I have are only from people in Edmonton and Calgary (with their profiles set to one of those at the time). I’m sure other Albertans were taking part too. The second is that it’s pretty hard to find all the back-and-forth tweets for the various conversations, so the ones I pulled out all contain the #bill44 hashtag.
I looked at the data for May and June of 2009. Here’s what it looks like:
I was initially surprised by the double peaks, but Paula helped make sense of it:
The first peak is the night debate went until 3:38 AM and the amendments were defeated. The second spike is the night (and early morning) of the final vote. Debate started the evening of the 1st, and ended at about 3:20 AM on the 2nd. The Twitter chatter continued like mad on the 2nd and 3rd, as people bemoaned the result.
After removing #bill44, #ableg, and RT, this is what the word cloud of the tweets looks like:
And here, in chronological order, is all 2406 tweets:
I agree with Paula and all of the others who have said this: Bill 44 was a landmark moment in Alberta’s social media & political history. I’m glad we were able to preserve a part of it.
As a minor aside, I think this a great example of what could come out of MediaCamp.