In a previous post, we noted that Michelle Obama’s speech to the DNC elicited an enthusiastic response from social media. Though Ann Romney’s speech to the RNC drew its share of warm comments, the overall reaction was mixed.
We wondered if there might be a way to visualize the two responses side-by-side. Hundreds of thousands of comments are involved, so this is no simple task. Word clouds are good at showing the most commonly used terms in a body of data, but not how they fit together in expressions and sentences.
That’s where word trees can be useful. Bluefin Labs has a nifty new word-tree generator we’ve been wanting to try out. You enter any phrase and it calls up all the social comments (in a given data set) using that phrase, and displays them in a branching-tree format.
The above word trees diagram the results we obtained after entering “Michelle Obama is” and “Ann Romney is” into the tool. These are partial trees, representing just the start of the most common sentences that employed these phrases to describe each woman. The full trees, too large to show here, continue branching far out to the right, ultimately forming a veritable forest of complete sentences.
We’re working on better ways to display future word trees. Still, this truncated view provides a peek at the way people on social platforms are talking about Michelle Obama and Ann Romney.