Using Twitter as a data source; examining emotions and more

In April, the Library of Congress announced plans to archive all public tweets since the start of Twitter in March 2006. So what might researchers do with this data?

A recent study provides an example. Scholars from Northeastern and Harvard examined the emotions of Americans through their Tweets. By coding certain words as having positive or negative emotional value, researchers were able to map out data. According to New Scientist:

[T]hese “tweets” suggest that the west coast is happier than the east coast, and across the country happiness peaks each Sunday morning, with a trough on Thursday evenings.

The mood map is cool.

While the findings about when people are happy may not be too surprising, the research does bring up the question about the value of Tweets as a data source. Since it is likely skewed to a younger sample and also perhaps a wealthier and more educated group, it is not representative data. But it could provide some insights into reactions to certain events or for seeing the beginning and end of certain trends.

So what else will researchers study using tweets?