Exploring the Ontario Conversation

Ontario Educators are a talkative, supportive, and connecting lot.  Using Twitter (and other tools), they converse about issues of the day all the time.  It’s fascinating at time and all that you need to do is follow the list and you can see what I’m talking about.  Last evening, the conversation was again of great interest.  I used the Talk Explorer visualization tool to plot the conversation.

It really is a simple web application to use.  Enter a username or a list and sit back and watch the visualization happen.  All that you need is to have a Java enabled browser.  The conversation looked like this.  (Look at the map and don’t scroll down just yet)


So, here’s the deal.  Each of the nodes represents an Ontario Educator.  From the 40 most active people at the time that I created the chart, the biggest node in the middle is involved in the most conversations.  Can you guess who that was?


Let me turn on the node names.


In fact, the honour of having the biggest node in the map at this snapshot was @cyndiejacobs, the great connector.  She understands the network and is always setting people up to succeed with her ability to find the right person, the right conversation that’s needed.

You’ll notice some other larger nodes in there as well.  @danikabarker, @colinjagoe, @brendasherry, and even @dougpete were a big part of the ongoing discussions.

If you look at the visualization, you’ll notice that there are larger, thicker lines between certain nodes.  That’s an indication that there’s an ongoing conversation between the two.  If you mouse over the connection, you’ll see it stand out.


As I look at the map, there’s a pretty solid line between myself and @pmcash.  Upon further reflection, that was a good conversation from yesterday afternoon.  Peter and I had a bit of a back and forth as he was setting up his new iMac on his teacher desk.  That’s reflected loudly and clearly in the map.

Talk Explorer is a great tool that does illustrate the strong participants and connections within a conversation.  In the right panel, you can explore the actual content of the conversation and find more about the participants from their Twitter profiles.

I would encourage you to try this resource out with your own Twitter ID and any lists that you may have created.  Hopefully, you can explore some great conversations and relationship like this one from Ontario Educators.



  1. Hi Doug.

    This is the utility that I’ve been looking for to confirm or refute the ideas I’ve been formulating about communications networks in Twitter. It’s a lot easier than doing it by hand.

    Do you know of any other similar utilities that track Twitter networks that handle greater amounts of data?




  2. Very neat! This also gives me some great leads on whom to follow on Twitter. @LisaDempster started me on my Twitter PLN journey, @gwynethjones made me examine it further, and now I can add your name and blog to my Twitter journey. Mucho gracias!


  3. Wow! I always read your daily blogs and I was blown away with this one. I am honoured to have the ‘biggest node’ and be considered the ‘great connector’. I do believe that one of the most important roles in the job that I do at OTF is to make connections. Now, on Twitter, I am able to do much more of that – with people I know and, perhaps more importantly, with people I do not know.

    Thanks for this DP!!


  4. Ron, that’s the only one of its type that I’m aware of. I just got my invite to Export.ly today and have been playing around with it ever since. I’m not sure that it does what you want it to.


  5. Thanks for dropping by, MzMolly. It will be nice to meet you at the OSLA Conference. I’m adding you to the Ontario Educators’ list. I hope that you find lots of interesting people to follow with your new engagement in Twitter.


  6. Cyndie, you were at your finest last night when I ran the Talk Explorer. You should try running it yourself and put your Twitter name at the centre. I’ll bet that you’re very pleasantly surprised with the results. I know that you’re trying to exploit the power of Twitter in your role with OTF and now you have the visualization to do it.

    It might be an interesting tool to demonstrate at the Curriculum Showcase. Find some of who you consider well connected leaders and show how they’re reaching out and touching with their conversations.


  7. I love this. I first spotted it on @shannoninottawa but she got it from here.

    I’ve got to get myself on there….must. tweet. more.

    Also, I tried to do this but my mac needs a Java update and I can’t figure it out. This happened to me with another application I tried. Any mac users reading this know what I should do? I guess I’ll tweet this question also.


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