At the journal Epidemiology, John Cunningham published a proof-of-concept article aimed to show that Twitter is a useful and viable method of data collection.
His data captured the incidences of the words “wine,” “beer,” and “vodka” over the course of a week. The figure shows that people are tweeting about these spirits more-or-less in unison, that they tend to do so increasingly towards the end of each day, and that wine and beer are weekday favorites, but vodka comes out ahead on the weekends, especially as the night wears on:
So, I thought that was kinda neat! Now we know something about when and what people are (tweeting about) drinking and also that Twitter is good for something other than sending people messages that everyone else can see, but no one else can understand.
*Via Neuroskeptic, from whom I borrowed this great title.Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.