We’ve had Twitter in our lives for a while now, yet it’s gotten no less satisfying when a stranger retweets a story or an idea. It’s also gotten no less confounding who we really reach, who this stranger is actually talking to when they spread our ideas, and who that stranger influenced to share the story to a whole new group of friends.
How do these tweets spread, really?
Where Does My Tweet Go, by MFG Labs, is a visualizer that maps the echoes of retweets across Twitter. It’s set up as a series of concentric circles, kind of like a galaxy map that you can view in 2-D or 3-D, with the original tweet in the center (imagine it as the sun).
Retweets emanate as blue lines from the sun, leading to the first circle, where all the retweeters perch. Green lines fire vertically from each tweeter, representing the sheer amount of people they’ve reached.
The effect is easy to follow and instantly understandable. And as each ring is geometrically several times larger than the last, the visualization is a template that can accommodate the exponential spread of a viral idea.
In fact, it almost seems like a perfect model to visualize the social network, until you realize that we’re not seeing one big, critical piece of information that would flesh out the story to its entirety: how much overlap (how many shared friends) is in each of these retweeter’s circles. The service takes this general idea into account with an overall “reach” number, but it would be a useful (if unwieldy) thing to see some Venn layer to represent message overlap.
Where Does My Tweet Go is currently an “experiment,” viewable in demo mode only. That said, you can check out how it works here, even if you won’t be able to chart your personal conquest across the galaxy just yet.