Soda versus pop on Twitter

July 9, 2012  |  Statistics

Soda vs pop on Twitter

Edwin Chen, a data scientist at Twitter, explored the geographic differences in language usage of soda, pop, and coke. We've seen this before, so it shouldn't be surprising to see that in the United States soda is dominant on the coasts, pop in the midwest, and coke in the southeast. The global view is new, with coke basically penetrating almost all of Europe.

What I think is most interesting though is the idea of tweets and status updates as data that represents cultures. There are applications that keep track of tweet volume, number of replies, and when the best time to share a link is, but in ten years none of that will matter. These miniature data time capsules on the other hand will be worth another look.

13 Comments

  • Maybe because only Americans call it “soda” or “pop”, everywhere else calls it “soft drink”.

  • The global view is not a valid test surely…
    Its an English language test being applies to non-English speaking areas…

    Coke is a brand-name, so is the same in every country. Pop and Soda don’t necessary translate to drinks. So the brand name in country X will beat out a word with no meaning in country X.
    This is of course assuming that it was possible to determine that all the tweets were to do with drinks.

    What do the words “pop” and “soda” mean in Spanish (Spain and the Americas), Portuguese (both versions), Swahili or Urdu?

  • Where I come from Coke means Coca Cola (though if you ask for it in a bar and they only do Pepsi they’ll usually give you that without asking for clarification). People sometimes use pop for carbonated beverages. But other alternatives exist: “fizzy pop”, “fizz”, “fizzy” etc. As stated above, these things are often referred to under the banner “soft drink”, although this usually includes non-carbonated alternatives such as orange juice.

  • Mr. Chen obviously needs to get out more. I have many times heard (in the South, of course, where Chen’s research shows all that blue for “soda”):
    “Do you want a Co Cola?”
    “Yes, please, ma’am”
    “What flavor?”
    “Mountain Dew”

  • I’m curious how much plotting order might affect this, how much blue does the green blob in the Midwest hide? Maybe using some transparency would make it a bit messier though.

  • As others have said, it’s stymied by the pre-selected list of options. In Australia the generic term is usually soft drink, yet the map indicates we call it coke purely because it’s one of the only things they look for.

    A great idea, but this specific example could use some touching up.

    • On the other hand, it shows nicely that the major centres of population in Australia are on the east and south coasts plus Perth on the west coast.

  • +1 @will and @stove

  • i’m from london and when i say coke, i get a cola cola. if i say soda, i get a glass of soda water. If i want any other soft drink i will name it by name – sprite, dr pepper whatever. If i say pop, well that usually means my dad drunk and i can’t find him.

  • Most people in Europe order a Coke by asking for a “cola”. That might result in the waiter bringing you a Pepsi, but then again most people just really don’t care. Nobody orders a “coke”, since it refers to a drug.

    Probably this chart shows tweets from Americans abroad who just tweeted that they found this out themselves ;-)

  • Andrew Breza July 19, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    I posted a link to the map on Facebook and one of my friends expressed his frustration because color blind people cannot understand it. I asked the creator of it, who responded that he used default colors. How much should we worry about making our publication-graphics viewable for people who are color blind?

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