Nexalogy CEO Claude Théoret’s transition from studying black holes to analyzing social data

Nexalogy's Claude Théoret speaks at StartupGrind. Photo by Heri Rakotomalala, MTL NewTech

Nexalogy CEO Claude Théoret said his transition from a physicist to entrepreneur means he’s gone from dealing with “colossal amounts of astronomical data to processing an astronomical amount of social data.”

Théoret, a PhD. and founding member of McGill University’s astronomy department, was the speaker at last night’s Startup Grind event. He talked about his experience as an entrepreneur, the Montreal startup ecosystem, and what made him move from analyzing black holes to analyzing social media.

Part of the inspiration for his career shift was the realization that the analysis he would do for scientific papers could be done for blog posts.

“I realized that a blog is the same thing as a scientific paper,” he said. “All the scientific people said you’re full of it, but mathematically it’s the same thing. You have an author. You have an abstract. You have a date. You have a physical address because for a blog you have a link. And you have the paper it’s published in, which is the name of the blog.”

That’s what made him apply the algorithms he used to analyze scientific papers — and astronomical data — to blogs. The result was an initial tool to identify topics, networks and insights based on what bloggers were writing, and how they were connected to each other. He coded the first version himself.

“Two years later Twitter came around and we added it in,” Théoret said. “When each new social media platform emerged, we added it in.”

Today, he said, social media analytics is projected by Gartner to grow by over 3,000 percent in the next five years. Théoret saw the potential and importance of social content and data early on.

“I wanted to apply it to something where there was more data than just with academic papers,” he said. “People said Twitter was a waste of time and the same about Facebook. But I saw it was all going to explode.”

Montreal as a place for startups

Théoret also made the case that Montreal is a great place for startups.

“I’m very gung ho on the Montreal ecosystem,” he said.

Back in 2006, when Nexalogy was getting started, there were only two VCs in the city. Now there are many more, plus accelerator programs such as FounderFuel. The startups taking hold in the city are better than ever, he said. He also cited increased VC investment in Quebec companies.

Théoret said it’s impossible to compare Montreal or any other city to what’s been established in silicon valley.

“Silicon valley is like the pyramids,” he said. “We’re going to be talking about it forever. It’s something in world history that’s never going to be replicated.”

Echoing his recent talk at FailCampMTL, Théoret said that failure is a part of success.

“From being a physicist and entrepreneur I’ve learned that the real key to success is to go from failure to failure with enthusiasm,” he said.

What drives Théoret?

“I want to prove that we can do a Montreal startup that does big data,” he said.


How to gain free social media insights using NexaMe and the Nexalogy HootSuite app

Nexalogy offers two free ways for you to analyze the concepts, tweets, hashtags, links and people driving the conversation:

1. Our HootSuite app is consistently one of the most popular free apps in the HootSuite App Store. The NexaMe stream in the app offers a visual way to gain insights about the topics and people in your Twitter timeline. The Nexalogy Search stream enables you to dig deeper into a hashtag or search term.

2. If you’re not a HootSuite user, we offer free access to the NexaMe app at Login in with your Twitter account and you instantly see data about your timeline.

We’re thrilled that so many marketers, researchers, consultants, journalists and others using it every day.

Below are five tips to help you get the most out of NexaMe and our Nexalogy Hootsuite app. If you’re already using them, we’d love to get your feedback, so feel free to get in touch.

1. Understand The Obvious, The Potentials, and The Long Shots

A look at results from, the Obvious, The Potentials and the Long Shots highlighted in red.

The NexaMe app by default shows you an interest map that visualizes the concepts being discussed. (The same is true for the Nexalogy Search streams in the HootSuite app.)

Each concept is displayed in a size relative to it’s importance in the conversation, and the map also shows you the relationship between each concept. These points of connection show how different concepts are related, based on the conversations taking place.

The best way to dig deeper into the concepts is to examine the three categories the app automatically places them in:

  • The Obvious are the big concepts getting the most discussion. When applied to your timeline in NexaMe, they show what your network is talking about most. In Nexalogy Search, The Obvious represent what’s known about the hastag/word in question.

  • The Potentials are concepts that are not yet as big as The Obvious. They have enough momentum that they could begin to set the agenda. In short, they have potential to blow up.

  • The Long Shots are just surfacing, and have only garnered brief mentions in the period analyzed. They may grow, or go nowhere. These could be the early signals worth paying more attention to.

You can click on the category buttons to show or hide the relevant concepts. This gives you an easier way to investigate the concepts. Here’s where the buttons are located in the HootSuite app (hover over the red dots for more information):

Now you’re ready to go to the next level and examine the tweets behind each concept.

2. Know your nodes

Each concept can provide you with interesting additional data. If you see a specific concept of interest, click on it.

This highlights that concept and any connected to it. You can now click the View Tweets button to see all the tweets related to that cluster. (Click the red dots below for more information.)

This is a great way to dig into the Potentials and The Long Shots to see what you might be missing. (You can zoom in and out of the interest map by rolling your mouse wheel, and you can move the map around by clicking and dragging.)

Note that you can select multiple nodes at the same time, but if you do this the app will only show tweets that include all of the relevant terms. So unless you’re looking to combine clusters of concepts, be sure to unselect a concept before you move to the next one.

3. Follow the links

Some of the most useful information is contained in the Analysis tab of the HootSuite app. Among other data, it shows the concepts and hashtags that are most of interest in your timeline or search.

You can also click anywhere on the timeline graph at the top to see the tweets for that specific moment in time. (This information is all displayed right on the main page of your NexaMe results if you use

One of the most useful data points is the list of the most frequently tweeted links. This enables you to connect content from else where with what people are talking about. At the very least, it’s a great way to learn more about concepts being discussed, and to discover links that you may also want to share.

Here’s an example from the HootSuite app ( displays all of the links and other information on one page):

4. Connect people with the concepts

With the concepts identified, you can now relate them to the people who matter most. View the Suggested Connections to identify and follow new and emerging influencers on a given topic, or in your extended network. You can also see the most active, engaged and retweeted people users as well.

This puts the influencers right in front of you, offering you a list of people to follow and connect with.

To access these features in the HootSuite App, just click on the Connections button in the NexaMe of Nexalogy Search streams. Then use the drop down menu to select which user group you want to view. Here’s how:

5. Refresh often to stay on top of trends

Each time you open the Nexalogy tab in Hootsuite, or go to, we pull in fresh data. Nexalogy delivers the most recent 1,500 tweets, or results from the past 7 days, whichever comes first.

This means that you should access the app or website at regular intervals in order to see new results and concepts. This increases the chances that you catch a Long Shot or Potential early on. It also ensures you can track the people and links that matter most.

If you want a more detailed search over a longer period, and with unlimited results, we can help you with that. Get in touch and we’ll make it happen.

Framing of Terrorism in Online News from the Bush to Obama Administrations: from Clash to Dialogue?

This paper was originally due to appear much earlier, but was just recently published by the graduate journal STREAM at SFU.
To download the full article click here.

Early research into Terrorism and News Media coverage showed in the 1990s the importance of terms like “guerrilla” to the inevitable link between Terrorist activities and news coverage of those activities. By the turn of the century content analysis was used to examine major news frames in Terrorism reporting in Newspapers and on Television.

However two major developments happened soon after that would greatly affect the environment within which the Framing of Terrorism takes place in media. The first of these was the creation of the Internet, online news, and eventually social media. The second event were the Terrorist attacks of 9-11 in 2001.

The research paper below uses early versions of network mapping and content analysis software in order to examine Terrorism news online comparatively between the George W. Bush administration of 2005 and Barack H. Obama’s first term in the White House in 2009.

The research shows that since 9-11 and the rise of digital media the term ‘insurgent’ came to predominate as a frame for Terrorist activities, particularly during the Bush Jr. administration. The term ‘extremist’ also grew in importance, and groups such as the Animal Liberation Front were more harshly framed as Terrorists under the Bush Jr. administration than either before the rise of digital media or during Obama’s first term.

In terms of social media networks, another interesting finding is that the Obama administration’s presence online had more direct connections to Peace and Activist Networks than the Bush Jr. White House did several years earlier.

click- through to zoom in

Overall, while central frames of Iraq stayed surprisingly consistent over time, the early days of the Obama administration showed a more direct involvement of the Executive in online news than the late days of the Bush Jr. admin, and the rise of blogs and blogger networks over time allowed for more alternative frames and interpretations of Terrorism, as was predicted by earlier research in the field.

The research carried out with the early methods presented in this paper shows that the clash of civilization hypothesis, so strongly adhered to by the Bush Jr. administration, is challenged to some extent by the rise of social media and the implication of major institutions in global online Peace Networks. While there is a long way to go before an alternate paradigm such as the dignity of difference takes root, there are more opportunities for such diversity offered through the digital environment than was the case in the past.

To read the abstract click here.

And to download the full article click here.