The Dutch are good-humoured Twitter users

The Dutch are good-humoured users of microblogging service Twitter, but country folk are more positive than city dwellers, the Volkskrant reports on Monday.

Erik Tjong Kim Sang of the Dutch language Meertens Instituut analysed more than two billion Twitter messages sent in Dutch since the beginning of 2011 using special software to assess whether the tone was positive or negative.

Some 2% of messages include a location and the researcher was able to work out a detailed picture of where the most optimistic and pessimistic tweets were sent, the Volkskrant says.

He found people are in a better humour in the countryside and that Twitter users in the big cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague are lower down the positivity scale. The western provinces score lower than average, as do tweets sent by people living in Flemish-speaking Belgium.

By using algorithms, Tjong Kim Sang was also able to make a good guess about whether tweets were sent by a man or woman and the age of the sender. Men above the age of 25 appear to have been over-represented in the sample of people giving their location, he told the paper.

Drawing up a map showing the emotion of the nation based on Twitter requires a lot of computer power. Tjong Kim Sang uses the super-fast computers at the Amsterdam Surfsara centre and working out a monthly map per local authority takes some 60 hours, the Volkskrant said.

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