DH Project Analysis: State of The Union address minute by minute on Twitter

The State of The Union(SOTU) address is the topic of political discussion when it’s aired. In today’s world, it’s possible to track the conversations the SOTU is generating through social media sites like Twitter. This project takes the SOTU and creates data visualizations that allow the user to more effectively see how the president’s words shape conversations online.

The goal of this project is to share an objective visualization of the online conversation around the 2014 SOTU address using real tweets that real people are posting. There’s no argument being made by the creators; the only original text they include is a description of their project and how to navigate it (see below).

The data visualizations are an interactive bar chart of hashtags that changes as the speech goes on (1), a map that changes to represent the frequency of the hashtags in the bar chart(2), and another chart that visualizes the hashtags in a different way to better represent how the frequency of topics change over time(3).


Black Box

Presented by an Interactive transcript of the
address that is visualized with 2 interactive graphs
and one interactive map. This project was made
web-accessible and is easily shareable.
This part is not disclosed by the project. The data
could have been stored in a spreadsheet, text file,
or another type of data structure. From the experience
I have, I would put the data into a spreadsheet and
use it to create a Tweet object that I could then use
in the code for my data visualization.
Tweets From Public Accounts on Twitter.

After filling out the black box for this project, I was puzzled about how the creators of this project made the interactive map with the data they had. A limitation to this project is twitter’s geolocation: it’s an opt-in feature, and very few users have it enabled. It is unknown how the creators of this project got their data, but it is safe to assume they ran into this issue and decided whether to make an algorithm to guess a user’s location based on previous activity on the site or work with the limited geolocation data available.

A question I still have is why the author of this project decided to remain anonymous. I understand the perspective of wanting to remain anonymous for neutralities sake, something extremely hard to be seen as in political discussion today. However, anonymity could also be seen as a sign of sketchiness and cause people to be skeptical of data. In this case, I don’t think the latter is too much of a concern considering the project only visualizes what others are talking about on Twitter without providing any commentary of its own. But I do think something they could have done to be even more objective information “sharers” is provide a document or file of some sort of all the tweets they used. It would add to the interactivity of the site and make it more credible.



  1. The blog is very well organized and the post does a great job at explaining the purpose of the project to someone who has not visited the site.

  2. I thought this was one of the coolest DH projects in the list, it seems so useful. I like your description

  3. I think the visualization is super cool, with multiple graphs showing different perspectives. I also agree that the author should be more transparent to make the project more convincing.

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