Twitter has again created a visualizer to recap highlights of the past year both from within its network and the world at large. The site began featuring these in 2010, but this year’s is the best yet in terms of presentation, and most comprehensive for what it covers. Twitter is also introducing a novel feature that’s sure to live well into 2013 and beyond. Using third-party app Vizify, the visualizer’s “Your Year on Twitter” feature lets users create an infographic of their Twitter activity over the past year.
Maybe it’s because of all of those Windows 8 ads over the past few months, but there’s a hint of Microsoft’s OS in the site’s interface. It breaks down highlights of the year by category. Click on “Golden Tweets” and there as the headliner is President and First Lady Obama’s unforgettable embrace. Thankfully it looks like the first family didn’t use Instagram to send it out — the photo still works. There’s gamer love in there too, literally. Included is the touching wedding announcement tweet from anime voice talent Kouichi Yamadera and Rie Tanaka.
Believe it or not, Twitter gets news exclusives, and it’s not just Justin Beiber updates. Among two memorable 2012 events on “Only on Twitter,” one was in the heavens, the other in the depths below. JPL used a constant stream of tweets to keep the curious updated on Mars rover Curiosity. James Cameron sent a tweet from his exploration of the Mariana Trench, broadcasting the moment he became the second explorer to reach the bottom of the ocean’s deepest known area.
“Pulse of the Planet” is wonderful recap of just how varied what humankind can care about in a year can be. From the Olympics, the Super Bowl and Euro 2012 to the U.S. election and the defeat of SOPA/PIPA, and even tragedies like Super Storm Sandy, it’s amazing what we can rally around. For better or worse, there’s no sign of the fiasco surrounding the Mass Effect 3 ending.
Speaking of game flame wars, one might expect to see game industry highs and lows under “Trends,” which recaps the year’s top hashtags and followed topics. The only one on the list looks to be Draw Something, which shows up near the bottom of tech trends. Overall a quick peruse of Twitter’s “top” topics in tech, movies, music and even food raises the question of just how much of what trended was driven by negative rather than positive sentiment.
Last, and let’s call it least, Twitter shows us that no matter how late we think we adopted the site, there are those even later to the party. “New Voices” offers shocking revelations of recognizable people who sent their first tweets in 2012. One look at political figures catching on this late, for instance U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and California Senator Dianne Feinstein, and it makes you want to short each and every one of their stocks for the next election. Except Paul Ryan, who’s already delisted.