What is SOMA?
SOMA is a social media search tool that allows users to search for Twitter posts surrounding the topics that they are most interested in. Our goal is to deliver the most relevant and current conversations happening in the world of social media and this is why we focus on the latest Twitter posts.
Additionally, you have the possibility to receive results containing synonyms of the words/expressions you are searching for. This way, you will gain access to Twitter posts that are, most likely, similar in content. However, you do have the option to skip the synonyms search, by unchecking the appropriate box, if you are solely interested in a specific term.
To accompany the tweets, our website also offers the latest pictures posted on Flickr, that have the word you entered associated as a tag. This will help create a fuller and more complete image on the subject of interest, but skipping the old, deprecated information.
Registration - obtaining a key
In order to use SOMA, you need an API key. This is our protection measure against Denial of Service attacks. Therefore, each key has 10000 uses before it is canceled.
To register, you have to access the registration form (use the Register button in the upper-right side of the page) and enter a valid e-mail address. An address can only be used once and it cannot be re-entered, even if the associated key loses its validity.
Once you enter a valid e-mail address, that is compliant to the already mentioned rules, you will receive an e-mail containing your key. To use it, just copy-paste it into the box indicated and search away.
A planet full of tweets and pictures
For a creative visualization of the results, we have chosen to pin them onto a map, using Google Maps. This not only enhances the user experience, but also allows you to associate points of view to the areas on the Globe where they are popular.
The map is easily navigable, using the mouse, the keyboard arrows and the two zoom buttons. For a confusion-free browsing of the results, the different types of resources are marked differently on the map:
- The Twitter pins use the Twitter logo
- The Flickr pins use the Flickr logo
- The pins corresponding to the actual word are outlined by an orange circle
- The pins corresponding to synonyms are outlined by an orange square
Clicking on a certain pin triggers a pop-up containing additional information about the corresponding tweet or picture:
- The title (for pictures)
- The first 40 characters of the tweet content (for tweets)
- The thumbnail (for pictures)
- Thumbnail of the user’s profile picture (for tweets)
- The corresponding website – Twitter.com or Flickr.com
- The author
- The tag it contains (see The search mechanism)
- The date it was posted
- The map coordinates (longitude and latitude)
- A “View more” button, which will take you to the actual post. This way, you can join those Tweeter conversations or interact with the author of the pictures found on Flickr.
To close the pop-up, just re-click the pin.
If you see a group of pins overlapping each other, just zoom in until you can see each one of them, clearly.
If a result is not of interest to you, just click the “Delete” button, which becomes available when the corresponding pop-up opens. This will cause the pin to disappear. Also, later searches of the same word will not include that particular tweet or picture in the result set.
The search mechanism
After introducing the key, as indicated above (Registration - obtaining a key), all you have to do is enter the word you are interested in, the maximum number of results you would like to receive and hit “Search”. We offer the possibility to limit the number of photos and tweets, since the requests we make are quite resource consuming, and they may take a longer time than you are comfortable waiting.
If two or more words are separated by anything but a comma (like an apostrophe, blank space, minus, etc.), they are considered to be an expression. In consequence, the group of words will be treated the same as a usual word would be.
To perform multiple searches at once, enter more than one word and separate them by comma. The result set will contain posts and pictures associated with one of the words you entered, so you can spare the effort of searching one word at a time. By clicking on a pin, you will be able to tell which keyword it represents, from the ones you have entered.
Next, you can take a look at a demo video that presents the basic actions that you can do with the application: