See Notes below for updates
This infographic highlights some facts about the usage of Twitter by TDs (members of the lower house of parliament in the Republic of Ireland) in the last 6 months. It goes beyond previously published figures such as those mentioned in a thejournal.ie article last year.
The author has no formal political affiliation, just an interest in number crunching. For more information please do not hesitate to contact me on Twitter. It's free to share as is so long as it's for non-commercial use and authorship is always attributed, though I would request that you let me know if you plan on giving it wide distribution.
Using a list of TDs with Twitter accounts from 2012 already made available by Murray Consultants and a Twitter list of users by @suzybie, a new list of TDs with Twitter accounts was compiled (see Files below for PDF). An excellent tool called Tabula was used to extract tabular data from PDFs.
This was checked against the list of members available at kildarestreet.com. Any member who did not appear on the Twitter list was researched by hand (Google) and added to the list if they had a Twitter account that was clearly operated by themselves. At this stage, constituency data and party affiliation as recorded by kildarestreet.com was added to the list of TDs (See Notes below).
On 22 July 2013, Tweepy, a Python wrapper for the Twitter API, was used to collate and query the last 3200 tweets of each TD on the list. This was stored in an SQLite3 database for further local use and joined with the TD data from the various sources above. Tweets from before 1 January 2013 were excluded. Hashtag data was extracted from the local database table and stored in a separate many-to-many table for separate use.
On 30 July 2013 user data for each TD was collected and aggregated (see table below, once again using Tweepy and the new list of TDs).
All this data and this data alone went into the creation of the graphic in LibreOffice Draw.
30 July 2013, 18:33 Update - @CJAMcMahon has pointed out that I've missed the more active accounts of Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Robert Troy, T.D. and instead used less active duplicate accounts. We are talking about at least a total of 117 missed tweets in the context of the aggregate data. To redraw the graphic is beyond me now, but I've amended the user data PDF linked below to note the duplicate accounts I am aware of. Thanks for the spot and letting me know of other omissions is welcome. It happens to the best (worst?) of us.
Other includes any TD recorded as not in FF, FG, SF or Labour.
Party affiliation is as recorded by kildarestreet.com on 22 July 2013. This data most accurately reflects the status of TDs with respect to their whip. Thus, by way of example, Lucinda Creighton, T.D. is listed as an independent and is treated as such in this analysis. This decision was made for consistency's sake and not for any political end. It obviously skews the party affiliation statistics a bit.
I apologise that this infographic is not entirely accessible to readers with certain color vision deficiencies.
A restricted sample period was used because the Twitter API limits historical tweet data to the last 3200 tweets. This was still enough to analyse tweets from any TD who tweeted since 1 January 2013. Anyone wishing to carry out a fully comprehensive study of the tweets of public representatives better start archiving tweets.
A number of TDs (12) have Twitter accounts, but have not tweeted once since the creation of their account. They are not included in the 'fewest tweets' callout box on the infographic.
I'm not confident that the account creation data given by the API calls (see the PDF table below) is accurate. Gerry Adams has a creation date in 2011, but as far as I understand he only started tweeting this year. Perhaps the account was created but lay dormant until then.
Some TDs did not tweet during the sample period. This does not affect the data under the 'Adoption' heading.
User information for three TDs who have Twitter accounts was unavailable at the time of collection. These TDs were: Pat Deering, Frances Fitzgerald and Séamus Healy. It is unclear if this was due to a temporary issue with Twitter, or if they have closed their accounts. Their tweet data (if any) is included in the corpus which was sampled on an earlier date.
I am intentionally releasing tabular data as PDF. Go figure.
Updated 30 July 2013