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#royalwedding, leaf & the bbc: 24hrs 30 screenshots real-time visualisation
A week ago today, the live BBC news page covering the Royal Wedding offered its audience one of the sexier Leaf components: the word cloud showing in real-time what the English speaking world was saying*.
To ensure everything goes well on the big day, we had pressed on through the chains of holidays that paralysed and enchanted the country in the past weeks, and were able to deliver a flawless experience.
Millions of people from around the world had the chance to see what the conversation was about on Twitter, at any given moment. And in helping Leaf make sense of it all, the BBC moderator and us saw it first:
The audience active on Twitter was… mainly women :) Kate, fashion and glamour rocked the chatter most of the time, while awesome cars, military displays and other boy toys rarely got into the spotlight, to rarely last there more than a few minutes.
The kiss happened, what a relief! But wait, it was double! WOW! And the open top car was cool, what a spectacular exit! The fly past? What fly past?
No one spoke much about The Queen, either, though Leaf picked that up briefly when the national anthem received its airtime. Other potentially major topics that didn’t surface: protests, demonstrations, and arrests. Neither the storm (nevercoming! UK weather forecasting is rubbish), nor the street parties.
The dress, the dress, the dress. Not the shoes, not the tiara, not the cute little bridesmaids and page boys, not even the bouquet (throwing it, not throwing it, no one cared). Every girl’s dream, Grace Kelly style, princesses, lace, Sarah Burton’s design (for Alexander McQueen, yes, phew, we got that sorted!), a touch of other ladies' hats/ fascinators and a drop of Victoria Beckham for good measure.
And then, there were the lovely points where the global Twitter audience diverged from the story of the moment and did its thing: the cost of the monarchy was of some interest, as well the taxpayers picking up the wedding bill. It was suggested that a monarchy places UK in the Middle Ages, and that #onlywhitepeople (a trending topic the day before the wedding) care about the wedding.
We learned quirky history facts (Adolf had married Eva Braun the same day) and about 1001 famous quotes about love and marriage. But in the heat of the action, the best Twitter had to offer was, once again, a whole new hashtag: #proudtobebritish raised to the top, and stayed there for a quite a while, until the Brits were ready to toast some bubbly on the happy occasion.
In the 11 hours between 7 am and 5 pm Twitter recorded nearly 1,250,000 tweets around the keywords tracked by Leaf (carefully defined for high relevance), of which we retrieved and analysed over 500,000.**
Our only regret is that #marryharry will take a while and Leaf won’t get to reuse its amazing #royalwedding knowledge soon enough. So here’s a souvenir of #williamandkate in 30 screenshots over 24 hours.
The demand experienced by the BBC site exceeded expectations, and before lunchtime, they pulled Leaf off the page. The word cloud kept working, however, for those who hadn’t refreshed their page.
The moderators also kept at it throughout the day, in case Leaf would be returned to its audience (it wasn’t), so if you were lucky enough to see our broadcast companion, Leaf in action, do tell us what you think!
* Where possible we recognised words from other languages, like Spanish, Dutch, Turkish or Indonesian. ** ABC News counted 2.1M tweets in the week prior to the wedding, and at 5 pm on the big day, their counter was approaching 4M. That suggests they were tracking more keywords than us, loosening their filter, which makes perfect sense for a counter.