CNN Lights Up Magic Wall with State of the Union Tweets

Twitter hit the wall during CNN’s coverage of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Wednesday night — the Magic Wall, that is.

Anchor John King used the Magic Wall, which runs on technology from software start-up Crimson Hexagon, to analyze State of the Union-related tweets state by state, sample tweets and show an overall view of the response to the speech by the Twitterverse, The Huffington Post reported.

CNN senior executive producer of integrated programming Alex Wellen told HuffPost the cable news network had access to the entire “firehose” of Twitter data and that, combined with Twitter’s geotagging functionality, enabled it to fire up the Magic Wall.

Wellen told HuffPost:

We turned the corner tonight. All together, it gave us a 50,000-foot view of what the Twitter reaction was.

And CNN senior vice president and Washington bureau chief David Bohrman, who served as the network’s executive producer Wednesday night, added:

Twitter is all noise, but to be able to harness it and group it and actually intelligently cluster it and derive moods and opinions from it is very interesting.

Speaking of tests conducted with Crimson Hexagon during the Massachusetts senate race last week, Bohrman told HuffPost:

I went into the control room with about a 50/50 chance of using it. I wanted to see it work. Over the course of the evening, Alex (Wellen) would update me, and I was talking to John (King), so my confidence began to grow as John began to get comfortable with it. He and I both got ourselves to a point of comfort sometime during the Republican response, and then I worked it in relatively soon after that.

If we can expand it to Facebook and various social platforms, it’s not a replacement for opinion polling because of the universe of people who are using these various platforms, but it does provide pretty interesting data.