Visualizing the names of your Twitter lists

A while ago I asked the Lazy Web for a service that would produce a tag cloud of the names of the lists on which a Twitter user appears. Mine, for example, would look like this:

The Lazy Web seems not to have taken up the challenge, so I took a crack at it. The solution I came up with is a single-page application, which is just a web page that uses HTML, CSS, and Ajax to do something that’s (hopefully) interesting and useful.

Here’s the page:

It defaults to my Twitter name but you’ll of course want to try yours, and those of others you’re curious about. The first time through, you’ll be prompted to authenticate to This looks like the password anti-pattern, but really isn’t. You’re authenticating yourself to the Twitter API in the same way that you normally do to the Twitter website.

Note that since the API call used to build the tag cloud is rate-limited, queries through this page will be charged against your daily allotment of Twitter API usage, just as when you use client applications like TweetDeck or Seesmic.

What will your tag cloud say about you? I don’t think you’ll be surprised. It’s just another of the unique signatures written for us by others. That those signatures do get written, though, and that they can be discovered and read, never ceases to surprise me.

The dynamics of single-page applications also never cease to surprise me. In this case, a tiny 4K web page is all that’s delivered from my modestly-equipped personal webserver. It would probably survive a Slashdotting. If not, the page could be hosted on any other server, or on a other local drive, and would continue to work the same way.

I’m also using jQuery, in this case served from the Microsoft content delivery network, so that’s unlikely to be a bottleneck. The only real limit is Twitter API usage, and that’s spread across all the Twitter users who authenticate through the page.

When you arrange and deploy a tiny amount of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript in this way, you can create a lot of leverage!

2 thoughts on “Visualizing the names of your Twitter lists

  1. Very nice, thanks!

    The contents of that list and mine are interestingly different, I’ll have to look into why.

    Another difference is that I decided to sort the long tail of the display — i.e., the majority of names that occur only once — alphabetically.

    Not requiring authentication is indeed convenient. Did they negotiate a higher API rate limit?

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