Montreal uni prof uses Twitter to expose people’s Christmas wishes – among them, Justin Bieber and hippos

xmas tweets

Xmas Tweets is a website created by Professor Derek Ruths in his research lab at Montreal-based McGill University’s School of Computer Science. The prof developed a program that extracts and prioritizes the most up-to-date holiday wishes posted on information network Twitter.

High on the wish list was a mix of real wishes – Justin Bieber, iPads, and “fantastic t-shirts” – as well as Christmas tradition inspired items, such as “2 front teeth” and a hippo. So while people want celebs, mobile gadgets, clothing and dogs, they also want song lyrics.

What people want for Christmas translates into what people buy. “According to the list, Apple products are 10 times more popular than Android phones,” Derek said. “This can give us an indication of how people are going to spend money this season.”

And “the fact that ‘money’ and ‘jobs’ rank 15th and 16th reflects real concerns in these challenging economic times,” Derek added.

Accuracy is touted in this study, Derek affirms: “You can’t take a large enough survey to get this kind of information.” His research team is actively developing methods for identifying gender, hobbies, different kinds of personal relationships, and other demographic details that are not always evident in online profiles. Each is an important factor in better understanding human behaviour.

Derek has plans for the post-holiday season, too – which is good, because many seem to be wishing for “new years day” for Christmas, a seemingly impossible request, even for a man as magical as Santa.

“Once the wrapping paper is ripped open, we’ll start looking at what Twitter users actually got for Christmas,” Derek stated.

How about winning an HP TouchSmart computer, Nokia N8 smartphone, or Kobo ereader for Christmas?