"Note: a short piece of writing that gives you information; a brief comment or explanation; a characteristic feature; a written symbol used to indicate duration and pitch of a tone by its shape and position on the staff"
-Merriam-Webster (slight paraphrase)

A "written" static prototype of the Note concept, these few bars illustrate the "weight" of each tweet and are hyperlinked.

Goal: Visualize my SXSW Interactive experience a meaningful, fun way.

Solution: A "living" metasong, based on conference tweets

Process: I took my tweets from SXSW Interactive 2014 and gave them each a total value, calculated based on the retweets and likes. I then related each tweet total value to a note in the key of C, with the correlation of the higher the total value, the higher the note. I gave each day the space of a measure and made chords when the notes allowed.


It started as a project to visualize my upcoming experience at SXSW Interactive, a project where I could learn a new skill in the creation process. Graphs are fun I rather enjoy them and think they explain better than words many times. But who cares? What would be different about this?

  • What if the graph were a line of music?
  • What if I could hear what I saw?
  • What if instead of music that was analyzed by data, I created data-driven music?

And my brain exploded. Stop there, take a step back, write something down. I opened up Excel and Twitter and created a simple relational value system for my tweets from SXSW Interactive last year and mapped the total value number of each tweet to a note in the key of C on a relational scale. Giving each day of tweets the space of a measure, I mapped the tweets and wrote my metasong. Metasong. Did I just create a new word? Well actually, it was a piece, a metalyric, but I'll go into that in a minute.

Taking a step back, I could easily see my highest impacting tweet and the lower supporting ones. I linked each note to the actual tweet, showing that my high F was earned by a quoting a session that spoke on culture, thus connecting my creation to its source.

How meta.

I named the prototype "Note." A note is a short message, a remark, the sound of a tweet or musical sound. It is also the verb I'll be doing at all the great SXSW Interactive sessions.

This can go in so many directions once you add in APIs to Twitter and other social media to pull in the data real-time, calculate on the fly, and reassign the musical pitches (frequency and retweets are all numerical values, right?). Magic will start to happen:

  • My metasong becomes dynamic, changing in melody as people respond to my posts.
  • I can hear my impact and pick out a note. I don't need sight to perceive or understand impact...
  • New music can be written…could this be a new genre?

So taking that last question, I'll tie it back to my previous comment on "metalyric" that I promised I would revisit. Twitter, heck, social media is just one voice. Take a brand, the Taylor Swift brand for example:

  • Treble: Taylor's social media activity
  • Bass: Her album and music sales
  • Percussion Highlights: Album and song releases

Instead of looking at her "Year in Review," Taylor and her fans can listen to it…and look back and retweet older tweets, thus changing the treble line into a new song. A dynamic, data-driven song.

Taking it back to reality, this idea would require more advanced algorithms and a platform with a Twitter API, able to pull and process data in near-real time for full realization. It's doable though. And for the "Live Music Capital of the World" and "new Silicon Valley," this is the perfect city in which to have it come to life.