In this post, I discuss Twinthesis, a sonification of public Tweets.
Twinthesis (also called Twittersynth), is a Twitter sonification application, written in MaxMSP, that uses public tweets as its data source. Every 30 seconds the software pulls out the latest public tweet and converts the characters into ASCII-values. Each ASCII-value is then run through a pseudorandomizer and then to an oscillatorbank containing 144 oscillators. Each character thus drives the frequency of one oscillator and if the tweet contains less than 144 characters, the non-used characters will result in a silent oscillator. The combination of all active oscillators results in a pad-like sound.
A second module allows the user to route the oscillators through a selector object, which chooses a random oscillator to be output at a tempo specified by the user. When setting a high tempo, a twittering effect arises.
Besides these two sonification modules, the user can also use granular synthesis. Here the user os in almost total control, only the buffer of the sound file is controlled by the length of the tweet. For example a tweet with a length of 78 characters will result in a buffer of 78 milliseconds.
You can download the software at Sam Harman’s site where you will find a paper about the program as well.
Unfortunately, this program suffers from an obsolescence problem in the sense that the tweets are not downloaded correctly. I am trying to contact the creator and will post an update if this application gets updated.