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GamerGate is an ugly mess, but this picture of it is beautiful

There have been several attempts at tracking and analyzing the use of the Twitter hashtag GamerGate. The results and responses to those attempts have been mixed.

Analysis of data, especially data not easily obtained, can be problematic at best. Fortunately, this particular story has nothing to do with the reliability of the data, instead it's the data's pure beauty.

Medium writer and American technologist Andy Baio (he's the co-founder of the XOXO Festival among other things)  whipped up a little Python script to capture every single tweet mentioning the Gamergate and NotYourShield hashtags from Oct. 21 to Oct. 23. The end result, 316,669 tweets, may or may not be telling from an analytical standpoint, but what he did with them sure is pretty.

He and Betaworks chief data scientist Gilad Lotan used Gephi to visualize the bursts of text into something ethereal, otherworldly and hypnotic. Each tiny, almost invisible dot, marks a single user and each line a connection to whom they were tweeting. The left side shows the pro-Gamergate group and the right the anti-Gamergate group, as determined by tweets. In between? Perhaps the future. Make sure to check out the full story for all of the boring stuff, like data, results and analysis.

The GamerGate movement and Twitter hashtag is a social campaign defined by most supporters as a call to effect change in video game journalism and to defend the "gamer" identity. The movement is difficult to define because what it has come to represent has no central leadership or agreed-upon manifesto. The hashtag was first used by actor Adam Baldwin in August after intimate details of a personal relationship between a video game developer and a video game journalist were made public and led some to allege cronyism between press and developers. The campaign is now also linked to ongoing and well-established harassment of women in video games, including Depression Questcreator Zoe Quinn, Feminist Frequency's Anita Sarkeesian and Giant Spacekat head Brianna Wu, though many of GamerGate's supporters deny the campaign should be blamed for harassment.


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