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About Twitterverse

'Twitterverse' was a prototype developed to offer graphical representation of social networks formed through usage of the 'Twitter' service. It offers a graphical user interface enabling efficient navigation of the user's social network and user's friend's social networks. Twitter does not encourage socialization as much as other social websites like Facebook, even though certain functions would be easy to implement with the information Twitter holds.


The Twitterverse application aims to improve on the flaws and shortcomings of twitter by providing:

  • New graphical interface
  • Show connections between people the user is following
  • Allow easy browsing of friends while showing friends
  • An ultimately better interface for navigation


Platform: Flash

Requires: A browser with Adobe Flash Player 9


IF you have any questions or comments contact blackjack@pleasekillrob.com.

Click here to play with the Twitterverse prototype.


Understanding Twitterverse

Twitterverse tries to move away from meaningless numbers and use graphics to inform users about the friends around them. Naturally, user need to know what the graphics mean. Look in the features menu to remind yourself. Here are the basic rules to keep in mind:

  • Gumball size determines how recently they posted. the bigger the more recent.
  • Gumball colour indicates how popular they are, shifting from green to red; the redder the more popular.
  • Currently, the lines that show between friend's gumballs indicate who the highlighted friend is follwing within the user's friend list.
  • The more recently a user has posted the closer they will be to the centre. This only scatters users who have posted within the last 18-20 hours. Any users who have posted later than that just sit near the friend circle's circumference. This does not apply to friend of friends (outside the circle)


There are some other notes to keep in mind, that relate specifically to the prototype and how it works:

  • Please be patient with loading times, it can be slow depending on response times from twitter's website. All the data comes from twitter, and it takes a while to retrieve
  • The loading bar shows the progess until all the functions are loaded, all the lines and all the gumballs. Some lines and gumballs may not show up until the application has fully loaded.
  • Search, Zoom in, zoom out, and Follow does not work
  • Clicking on gumball after its opened/while it's opening will load that friend's twitterverse. It should only be restricted to the view text, but it isn't. Try not to be trigger happy.
  • This prototype only views up to 40 friends. There was supposed to be pagination or another method to deal with users who have more friends than this. However, the prototype feeds in the 40 latest posters. We do not believe users will be interested in friends who haven't posted in the last month or so.
  • Usually breadcrumbs act as links, ours doesn't. So don't try clicking it.


Using Twitterverse


Your user avatar and your username will appear in the centre of the screen (centre of the circle).


Users that you follow will appear inside the circle around you (within the friends area), as a coloured dot with their usename below.


Users that are followed by the users you follow will appear outside the circle (within the friend's friends area), also as a coloured dot with their usename below. You do not follow them.


The colour of the dots resembles popularity of users, calculated from how many users they are following. (image of colourchart)


The varying sizes of dots resembles the activeness of each users. (image of sizechart)


The positioning of dots that are inside the circle also resembles the activeness of users.


The lines that appear once the dots are mouse-overed/cliked depicts the relationship between the users.


The interface will take a certain time to load all the necessary data, relative to you internet connection speed and the server load and the traffic on twitter.



Note that the loading has potential of failing, which is not only dependant to user's Internet connection but also Twitter server.



Feature menu will appear once the feature button is clicked. Clicking the button again will hide the menu.

Feature menu includes the followings:


  • search (dummy for look and feel of future work)
  • zoom (dummy for look and feel of future work)
  • number of followers chart
  • time of last post chart



By hovering the mouse cursor over the gumball, gumball will expand and display its user icon and the network line.



By clicking on it, the icon will enlarge to full-size and the latest post from its user will be viewable. It also provides option to click again to 'view' the user, which essentially reloads the interface with that user in the central point showing his/her social network.



Breadcrumb is list of texts positioned next to the 'Logout' button that simply shows the users that have been 'viewed'.



To logout from Twitterverse, click the 'Logout' button positioned on the top-right hand side corner.


You will be navigated back to the Login page.


Future Work for Twitterverse


The constraint of available development time restricted the features prototype of Twitterverse demonstrates. Through development and evaluation of Twitterverse, following elements were considered for future development:


  • Relationship lines connecting the users to illustrate one-way relationship (following or followed) and mutual relationship (friends), by use of arrow heads and varying colours.
  • Grouping of friends feature to portray social network group.
  • Zoom feature to control levels of social network displayed, and enable exploration of lower levels of user’s social network (e.g. friend’s friend’s friend), or control.
  • Navigation system to enable all users within user’s social network to be viewable.
  • Search feature to support efficient spotting of user in the social network.
  • Dynamic on-time update to eliminate the need of manual refreshing.
  • Enable message posting and following features so Twitterverse could supplant current official twitter interface.
  • Enable personalisation including: favourite user list for convenient access, themes and colour schemes, and number of users to display on the screen.
  • Further refinement of user interface design elements
  • Allowing users to see other tweets instead of just seeing the most recent one from their friends.


One of the major problems of Twitterverse is its dependence on twitter for providing information. Introducing more functions would require better handling of information from twitter. There are three methods that could help;

  1. improving the algorithm that fetches data, attempting to limit the number of requests
  2. precatching and holding information on a proxy server to speed up requests
  3. having direct access to the twitter database


Desktop application could be an alternative option for vplatform. In contrast with web application, advantages of desktop application include: not requiring loading of graphical elements (thus faster and smoother operation), efficient storing and calling of personalised data, and effortless access to the application from the desktop. With combination of desktop application version of Twitterverse and current web based application of Twitterverse, user could experience further enhanced user experience.