In 2010 I spotted an exchange of tweets between Martin Weller, Brian Kelly and Tony Hirst discussing the capture of event hashtags on Twitter:
This exchange got me thinking about how Google Sheets could be used to automatically archive Twitter search terms. A couple days later I published a solution for Using Google Spreadsheet to automatically monitor Twitter event hashtags and more. Little did I know then that 7 years later I’d still be working on this idea in the form of TAGS. Tracking Google Sheet usage isn’t easy but from 2014 there have been 73,383 copies of the TAGS template and each month there are over 3 million impressions* recorded via the Google Analytics Tracking Beacon.
*I’ve never tested the accuracy of this figure and would imagine it’s heavily supplemented by hits from robots.
TAGS and it’s companion visualizer, TAGSExplorer, has been a pleasurable itch to scratch. As a hobby project I’m however conscious that TAGS and TAGSExplorer could be so much more. Whilst TAGS is a tool I use in my day job at the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) I’ve always felt that development of the product fell outside the scope of my responsibilities. To revisit TAGS/TAGSExplorer I also feel needs dedicated time and space to really explore the limits of Google Sheets as a Social Network Analysis platform, doing my best to ‘break the cell’.
For TAGS fans I’m delighted to announce that with the support of my boss Maren Deepwell and the ALT Trustees (currently chaired by Martin Weller 😉 I’ve the opportunity to take 9 months of research leave to explore TAGS and other Google Sheets projects. I won’t be entirely stepping away from ALT and will be doing my usual bit for the ALT Annual Conference in September and continuing other essential work. Just to reassure ALT Members, after all I am one, that my research leave is unpaid, which gives me the freedom to set my own deliverables.
My leave starts in July and with holiday and childcare it will be a bit of a slow start but you’ll be able to follow progress from my blog. A big thank you to all those TAGS/TAGSExplorer fans hopefully there will be plenty of opportunities for you to get involved in the TAGS evolution over the next 9 months.