Twitter and CS Departments (Part 1)

I don’t spend all my time as Dylan says:

I’m on the pavement. Thinking about the government.


Over the weekend I was looking at: The 50 Most Innovative Computer Science Departments in the U.S. in terms of how to gather information from those departments together.

One of the things that I haven’t seen is a curated list of faculty who have twitter accounts.

What follows are the top two CS departments as a proof-of-concept only and to seek your advice on a format for a complete set.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology:


The names and locations, where available, are from the user profiles maintained by Twitter. As you can see, there is no common location that would suffice to capture all the faculty for either of these departments. In fact, some of these were identified only by pursuing links on Twitter profiles that identified the individuals as faculty at non-Twitter sites.

Building the data set out, once I have a curated set of faculty members for the top fifty (50) institutions, such as following, followers, etc. will be a matter of querying Twitter.

On the curated set of faculty members, any preference for format? I was thinking of something simple, like a CSV file with TwitterHandle, Full Name (as appears in Twitter profile), URI of department. Does that work for everyone? (Faculty as listed by the CS department)

Suggestions? Comments?

5 Responses to “Twitter and CS Departments (Part 1)”

  1. marijane says:

    Why not use Twitter’s native lists feature, one per school? You could put the department URI in the list description.

    This would make the sets available via Twitter’s public API.

  2. Patrick Durusau says:

    marijane, thanks! I hadn’t thought about using Twitter because I was going to use the data outside of Twitter. But in terms of accessibility, a twitter list is the way to go.

  3. Patrick Durusau says:

    marijane, I have created MIT-Profs as a list on Twitter. I can’t believe how clunky the interface is for creating a list. I had to look each person up in Twitter and then add them to the list popup, close the popup and go to the next person. Fortunately using their twitter handles meant that I had to do less searching than the first time.

    Definitely a good idea, except that longer term I was thinking in terms of a client that subscribes to all the CS profs and filters their tweets/retweets.

    It does point out the need for a better interface for creating lists to follow. Should be listName, description, list of twitter handles separated by commas, plus edit function for the list. One save, etc. Whoever designed the present list function didn’t test it for usability.

  4. marijane says:

    It’s been a while since I’ve made a list myself, but yeah, I do recall it’s pretty clunky.

    Maybe you could also use the Twitter API to create the lists? There’s even an endpoint for adding a bunch of accounts at once:

  5. Patrick Durusau says:

    marijane, for sure going to use the API. Need to modify my present name search script.

    Was looking at it today plus how to maintain the data over time. Thinking of running the name query about once a month and then diffing against the most recent list I have locally. That should result in a minimal amount of added accounts.

    Happy New Year!