Alberta’s Orange Revolution

Alberta’s election results this year took everyone by surprise – even the pollsters who predicted them. To their great relief, the seemingly unlikely forecast that the NDP would topple the Conservatives’ 43-year reign turned out to be absolutely spot on.

Given the uncertainty of the outcome and the polls’ previously shaky track record in the province, we thought it would be instructive to run the social media conversation around the elections through our platform and make a comparison.

The polls closed at 8pm GMT, and the flow of Twitter commentary on the elections peaked at 9:00pm GMT, when the CBC predicted the NDP victory on air. Therefore, we decided to compare the conversation for 12 hours before and after the CBC’s announcement.

This lexical map charts the 125 most important words in the discussion leading up to 9pm and their interconnections. Here, it reveals some pretty interesting themes. There is a huge push for increased voter participation, especially in the wake of Prince Edward Island’s outstanding voter turnout of 81% in Monday’s provincial election. It seems this spurred a little friendly competition – though ultimately Alberta’s turnout was only 58.25%, it’s the province’s highest turnout in 22 years.

Nexalogy Lexical Map

A popular reference to PEI’s massive voter turnout:
PEI turnout

Several tweets bantered about the potential inaccuracy of the polls. There was concern on the part of NDP partisans that polls would turn out to be disastrously wrong, or that they might even mislead part of the voting public into assuming the Conservative party would lose, and therefore not bother to go vote. This may have significantly contributed to voter turnout.

The pollsters were regarded with considerable suspicion.

There is also a rather entertaining conversation on “pigs”, as the results began to come in.

10th top retweet:
Pigs Are Flying

Rachel Notley was the top influencer leading up to CBC’s prediction, with a whopping 1255 results, followed closely by @albertandp.
Nexalogy -  Top Influencers Before

We tabulated the mentions of different leaders and parties in order to determine their share of voice and turned up a couple of interesting tidbits. Notley and Prentice, but especially Notley, have an overwhelming number of mentions in their own right, indicating popularity reminiscent of Jack Layton’s “orange wave” in Quebec. Jean is much less proportionally significant, but this is not that surprising: he has been at the helm of Wildrose for a relatively short time.
Nexalogy - Share of Voice of Party Leaders Nexalogy - Share of Voice of Party Leaders with Party Hashtags

Following 9pm, expressions of congratulations and relief by Notley’s supporters were at the heart of the discussion. Major sidebars concern references to Jack Layton, celebration of Greg Clark for winning the first seat for the Alberta Party, and schadenfreude around Prentice’s loss as well as anticipation of his resignation speech.

Nexalogy Lexical Map - After

A comment from a Jack Layton fan:Jack Layton

Though there was considerable anxiety on social media that pollster predictions of a NDP landslide would somehow “jinx” the party, they ultimately proved correct. The gender balance in the conversation was fairly even with slightly more men, and the Twitter demographics of the #abvote discussion show a middle-aged cohort of journalists, educators, writers and senior managers who used Twitter well to support their cause.



Overwhelming support of the NDP in general and Notley in particular is apparent in the Twitter conversation leading up to the peak of discussions, and relief, amazement, and pride are dominant in the aftermath. The alignment of social media analysis and advance polling predictions is good evidence for the validity of the former to bolster the latter – especially in the case of an impending major political upset.

The “orange crush” victory of the NDP in Canada’s most longstanding Conservative bastion has given way to fervent discussion of the results at the federal level. It will be interesting to see how the next federal elections play out in light of Alberta’s major political upheaval, and clearly worthwhile to pay attention not only to advanced polls but also to social media buzz as indicators of future votes.

#MTLBDW: MTL Big Data Week

Last week, Nexalogy had the pleasure of helping bring Big Data Week to Montreal for the second time, in conjunction with MTL DATA, an organization for professionals of all domains who want to solve problems using data. The Montreal community came together in full force, and were blown away with the support in terms of partners, sponsors, and attendees.

#MTLBDW kicked off on Monday at Centre, with experts from Nexalogy, Ajah, Datacratic, Intel Security, KeaText, and McGill HPC.

View clip here

Pablo’s slides here

Tuesday was the first ever Open Data Book Club in Montreal, where attendees gathered to collaboratively explore an open dataset, in this case the STM metro turnstile data.

Wednesday was Papers We Love, where Peter Zion, Chief Architect at Fabric Engine presented two great papers on deep learning: Yann LeCun’s seminal 1998 paper, “Gradiant-Based Learning Applied to Document Recognition“, and Krizhevsky, Sutskever, and Hinton’s 2012 paper, “ImageNet Classification with Deep Convolutional Neural Nidetworks“.

On Thursday, McGill HPC gave an introductory workshop on GPU/CUDA, and come Saturday was the much anticipated hackathon, where the data and developer communities came together to build cool big data projects in 24 action-packed hours, at La Gare, a spanking new co-working space.

Highly skilled mentors were on-site to give lightning talks/workshops and lend a hand as needed.

La Gore closed up at midnight on Saturday, and opened up again at 8am on Sunday, where keen hackers came in bright and early to prepare for the hour of judgement to come.

1pm. Showtime. Meet the judging panel. From left to right,

- Nicolas Krutchen, Staff Software Engineer, Datacratic

- Alexis Smirnov, Chief Evangelist, Radialpoint

- Greg Gilbert, VP R&D, Analytics, Aviva Canada

- Michael Lenczner, CEO, Ajah

- Charles-Olivier Simard, VP & CTO, KeaText

MTLBDW 2015 Judges

Presentation #1: Select your own defining criteria for a perfect neighbourhood, and Dream Island will help you identify it. Git Repo | Demo

Presentation #2: Attitude Analysis used a corpus of 988,000 tweets retrieved from Twitter’s Search API from January to April 2015 containing the words “feminism”, “feminist” or “feminists”, trained a classifier to label them as pro-feminist, anti-feminist or neither (regardless of sentiment), and determined the most characteristic words used by each group with the log-likelihood keyness method. Git Repo | Slides – Congratualations on winning the Data Science Award and Data Visualization Award!

Presentation #3: Hackapun hacked an algorithm that discriminates between “homonymous puns” and non-pun sentences that contain homonyms Git Repo — Congratulations on winning the Big Data Award!

Presentation #4: Lingua Franca hacked a recommendation engine for #topic engagement, which creates and grows a receptive audience by finding common ground using Nexalogy’s API, and #idlenomore Twitter data. Git Repo | Demo | Slides – Congratulations on winning the Grand Prize!

“Lingua Franca” means a common third language used to communicate between two parties with differing backgrounds. How it works: user searches for a hashtag or topic. The Lingua Franca engine finds all topics related to that original hashtag or topic, and produces a ‘score’ for how closely related those topics are to the original topic.  Lingua Franca then runs the “common topics” again through Twitter, and identifies individuals a receptive audience for the original topic.  The cross-platform identity of those individuals are then presented and combined with “suggested topics” to engage them with. Here is a video of the hack in progress:

Lingua Franca from Gnito on Vimeo.

Presentation #5: One-man team Frederic Gingras’ initial idea was to gather insights on what makes successful open-source project thrive and work so well. Problem being that there is a huge gap between the mass of unknown good projects and the few widely used and maintained. Git Repo – Congratulations on winning the Solo Dev Award, a 1-year subscription to Safari!

Presentation #6: Great Explorer’s Footprint looked at street names along French Canadian explorer’s travels, used a simple n-gram frequency, and categorized the language of the streets. Git Repo | Demo

Presentation #7: EXPG Hockey calculated expected goals based on shot location using the SPORTLOGiQ datasets Git Repo

Presentation #8: Fedorer Streamer finds relationships in the fedora event stream Git Repo

For more hackathon photos, check out La Gare’s album on Facebook.

Thanks to all who joined us for MTLBDW! Nexalogy & MTL DATA will be joining forces again to champion a Data tent at the International Startup Festival, July 15-18 – contact us if you’d like to get involved, or click here to purchase a ticket at 10% off.

Changes to Facebook Data

As of April 30, 2015, Facebook will be turning off access that allows companies like ours to extract public posts to their network (Details here). With 1.39 billion monthly users, Facebook has become the world’s largest record of human thought, but, in reality, Facebook’s Privacy and Sharing model means that less than 5% of all posts published to Facebook are publicly available and accessible for analysis. > Graph API > Removed endpoints >Public post search is no longer available. (/search?type=post&q=foobar)

Now, the only way to access data from Facebook will be to go through DataSift’s new Pylon program, which will offer anonymized and aggregated Facebook data analysis. As this program is available through DataSift, a current data supplier to our platform, we are evaluating the value and costs associated with offering this to our customer base.
In the meanwhile, the option to create a Facebook search project will be removed from the dropdown menu on NexaMaster. In response, we will be adding access to comments and wall posts from Facebook Pages to our platform – stay tuned for more information. Nexalogy is committed to ensuring that our customers have reliable and uninterrupted access to social media data sources. Join as we move ahead into the next chapter of this fast paced industry!