May 6, 2020
Our Investigations

How to Look Good on Video Calls: Analyzing 1K Skype & Zoom rooms.

Victoriano Izquierdo

TLDR: Surround yourself by 🌵plants , 🛋 lamps or a 🖼 piece of art if you don't want to look like you were taken 🔫 hostage. Cozy ornamental elements like 📚bookshelves, 🔥fireplaces, vintage kitchens are a big plus. Combine well the 🎨colors and tones of the walls with the rest of elements and your clothes. Natural light over artificial light. Make sure the 🤳angle and perspective of the camera don't make you look fat.

Just in a few weeks, 200K people started following the @RateMySkypeRoom or the Bookcase Credibility projects on Twitter. Every few minutes a new screenshot of someone on TV speaking from home gets analyzed. Claude Taylor, a veteran of presidential campaigns who worked for the Clinton White House, is behind it.

Since they have already rated almost 1000 Zoom and Skype rooms I thought that would be big enough to turn all these screenshots and reviews into an structured dataset to find some clear patterns on what makes people look good or bad on video calls.

After getting all the tweets with our scraper Tractor, I uploaded the dataset to Graphext and filter out only the original tweets containing a rating between 0 and 10. Then I clustered all the ratings using our similarity algorithm for short texts, which uses word2vec.

The Main Narratives

Graph: 854 @RateMySkypeRoom reviews of video call backgrounds.

Each cluster represents a "narrative". Ratings that share similarities - camera angle, coziness, colors - get connected. High dense regions of the networks are delimited as clusters. We define the clusters with the terms that appear more often in that cluster and are less generic in the entire corpus.

Here you have a detailed definition of each cluster using the most significant 📚🖼  nouns and 👍👎 adjectives.

Graph: The clusters defining the different narratives surrounding video call backgrounds.

The Popularity Contest

Although the big majority of ratings are positive, between 6 and 9, the most popular reviews are the ones with the highest score (10) and the lowest (0,1). Extremes are exciting, normality is boring.

Graph: Video call backgrounds, colored by their rating out of 10.

Graph: Divisive rooms were the most favorited.

The rooms with the most retweets.

And here is big sample of picture including the number of Favs and RTs each one of them got.

Maybe we are all "pretending" these days, but at least let's pretend well!

View image on Twitter
The New Yorker


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