ReConstitution 2012 was an interactive website and live data visualization.

ReConstitution 2012

A live deconstruction of the 2012 presidential debates — part data visualization and part experimental typography.


Tim Branyen
James Pennebaker, UT Austin
Cindy Chung, UT Austin

The Atlantic
Boston Globe
Creative Applications
The Creators Project
Fast Company
VICE Motherboard
Wall Street Journal

Part data visualization, part experimental typography, ReConstitution is a live web app linked to the US Presidential Debates. During and after the three debates, language used by the candidates generates a live graphical map of the events. Algorithms track the psychological states of Romney and Obama and compare them to past candidates. The app allows the user to get beyond the punditry and discover the hidden meaning in the words chosen by the candidates.

ReConstitution is a web app that is best viewed in Chrome or Safari. The app receives the text of the debate—word by word—from the backend server, and constructs an animated layout of the transcript in your browser window. The server uses several language processing libraries to analyze and tag the close captioned text, which is sent to it by an application connected to a live cable feed, running in the Sosolimited studio.

The site can be viewed at

Support for this project was provided by Vice and Intel. Bocoup generously helped with the software architecture. The language analysis is based on the work of James Pennebaker from UT Austin. His colleague Cindy Chung helped us crack the code on these wonks.

The transcripts of Obama and Romney were annotated with natural language processing. The entire site was interactive.
Our software used the LIWC library developed at UT Austin to quantify the emotional state of the candidates.
Bold typographic animations were triggered by specific phrases in the debates.
We tracked and compared frequently spoken phrases from Obama and Romney.
Press & Accolades
“Designed to provide viewers with a complementary way to immerse themselves in the debate experience, using only the lens of language to guide them.’’
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