Map shows how Twitter users feel in real time

Carolyn Bick, special to

WASHINGTON – Blue and red areas on a map typically represent political divides, but a project by Global Twitter Heartbeat is using the colors to show whether Twitter users are happy or sad.

A supercomputer — called the SGI UV 2000 Big Brain and housed at the University of Illinois — tracks how Twitter users in the United States are feeling in real time, NBC reports.

The machine collects more than 400 million tweets within the U.S. and converts them into colored spots on a Live Global Twitter Heartbeat map.

On the map, shades of red represent negative feelings, while shades of blue symbolize positive emotion.

During election week, the computer tracked tweets from supporters of President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney. Based on the tweets, the computer produced a fairly accurate map — blue for Obama, red for Romney — of how Americans were feeling about the candidates.

The computer also tracked Hurricane Sandy tweets. The areas hit hardest by Sandy were the reddest.

The project is still continuing, and Twitter users can include the hashtag #tweetbeat in order to be tracked by the computer and shown on the live map.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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