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Session 1A [clear filter]
Tuesday, July 12
 

10:30

Session 1A: Big Data
Location: PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - LG02,
Goldsmiths, University of London, Building 2
Campus Map 


Moderators
avatar for Dr. Dhiraj Murthy

Dr. Dhiraj Murthy

Reader of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London
Dhiraj Murthy’s current research explores social media, virtual organizations, digital ethnography, and big data quantitative analysis. His work on social networking technologies in virtual breeding grounds was funded by the National Science Foundation, Office of CyberInfrastructure... Read More →

Tuesday July 12, 2016 10:30 - 12:00
PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - LG02 Goldsmiths University, Building 2

10:31

Big Data Methods and Methodology: prospect for innovations or stuck in traditions?
Location: PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - LG02, 
Goldsmiths, University of London, Building 2
Campus Map 

Contributors:
  • Anu Masso, ETH Zürich, Switzerland
  • Andra Siibal, Univrsity of Tartu, Estonia
  • Maris Männiste, Univrsity of Tartu, Estonia

Background:

In this paper we aim to contribute to the discussions about the methodological shifts related to the arrival of big data era and the dangers of research biases due to the polarization of scientific community regarding their skills in big data methods and methodologies. Methodological issues related to big data have been previously studied mainly theoretically (Kitchin, 2014; Shah, Cappella, & Neuman, 2015; Housley et al., 2014) suggesting that emergence of large datasets have evoked shifts both in data analysis techniques, methods and methodologies. However, there are almost no systematic studies analysing how these methodological changes are expressed in practice, i.e. in empirical social media studies. 

Objective:

In this study we aim to fill this gap, by making meta analyses of previously conducted empirical studies that have used large social media databases and finding out the data analysis techniques, methods and methodologies used in the studies. 

Hypothesis: (1) We assume based on previous studies (Kitchin, 2014; Lewis, Zamith, & Hermida, 2013) that traditional manual methods are combined with computational techniques, rather than being replaced by those, facilitating traditional forms of interpretation and theory-building. However, we assume, that the proportion of the data-driven theory building approaches are increasing in time compared to descriptive empirist research. (2) We also suppose based on previous studies (Boyd & Crawford, 2012; Burrows & Savage, 2014) the existence of digital divide in the field of big data methodologies, creating both institutional and individual inequalities (in so that the top-tier and well-resourced universities have both better access and skills for research of big social media data). However, (3) based on previous studies (Shah et al., 2015), we assume, that methodological reflections (e.g. questions of data quality, validity of analysis, correctness of inference, ethics) are more common in studies conducted in transdiciplinary teams compared to individually conducted studies within single discipline. Furthermore, based on previous studies (Bello-Orgaz, Jung, & Camacho, 2016) we assume that the main problems and limitations the authors acknowledge have to do with access to data, privacy, streaming and online algorithms, data fusion and – visualisation. 

Methods:

In this paper the systematic literature review is combined with quantitative meta analysis methods of published academic peer-reviewed articles. The sample consists of empirical studies using social media data as basis and qualifying the study as falling into broad category of big data methodology. Articles are analysed mainly quantitatively combining standardised category schema and open coding function. We operationalize the inequality of big data by coding the articles by formal characteristics (e.g. institutional affiliation), content-related qualities (techniques, methods, methodologies used) and level of critical reflection (e.g. data quality).  

References: 
Bello-Orgaz, G., Jung, J. J., & Camacho, D. (2016). Social big data: Recent achievements and new challenges. Information Fusion, 28, 45. 
Boyd, D., & Crawford, K. (2012). CRITICAL QUESTIONS FOR BIG DATA: Provocations for a cultural, technological, and scholarly phenomenon. Information, Communication & Society, 15(5), 662–679. http://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2012.678878 
Housley, W., Procter, R., Edwards, A., Burnap, P., Williams, M., Sloan, L., … Greenhill, A. (2014). Big and broad social data and the sociological imagination: A collaborative response. Big Data & Society, 1(2). http://doi.org/10.1177/2053951714545135 
Kitchin, R. (2014). Big Data, new epistemologies and paradigm shifts. Big Data & Society, 1(1). http://doi.org/10.1177/2053951714528481 
Kshetri, N. (2014). The emerging role of Big Data in key development issues: Opportunities, challenges, and concerns. Big Data & Society, 1(2). http://doi.org/10.1177/2053951714564227 
Lewis, S., Zamith, R., & Hermida, A. (2013). Content Analysis in an Era of Big Data: A Hybrid Approach to Computational and Manual Methods. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 57(1), 34–52. http://doi.org/10.1080/08838151.2012.761702 
Shah, D. V., Cappella, J. N., & Neuman, W. R. (2015). Big Data, Digital Media, and Computational Social Science. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 659(1), 6–13. http://doi.org/10.1177/0002716215572084 

Tuesday July 12, 2016 10:31 - 12:00
PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - LG02 Goldsmiths University, Building 2

10:31

The Method to the Madness: The 2012 United States Presidential Election Twitter Corpus
Location: PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - LG02, 
Goldsmiths, University of London, Building 2
Campus Map 

Contributors:
  • Christopher Mascaro, Drexel University, United States
  • Denise Agosto, Drexel University, United States
  • Sean Goggins, The University of Missouri, United States

Social media provides a rich environment for understanding social connections, interactions and information sharing across many aspects of society. The relative ease of access to social media data through provision of APIs by the companies has led to a significant number of studies that attempt to understand how social media fits into society and how the public uses it for discourse and information sharing. One of the existing gaps in these studies is the lack of extensive description of the data collection and processing methods. These gaps exist as a result of word limits in existing publication venues and a lack of appropriate publication venues to share this type of fundamental research. The following paper provides extensive detail as to how a 52 million corpus of Twitter data on the 2012 Presidential Election in the United States was collected, parsed and analyzed. This level of detail is imperative in studies of social media as small choices in what data to collect can have material effect on the findings. In addition to the description of the methods, the following paper provides a contribution to knowledge in providing basic characteristics of one of the largest research datasets of social media activity compiled to study political discourse. 

Tuesday July 12, 2016 10:31 - 12:00
PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - LG02 Goldsmiths University, Building 2

10:31

What can big data analysis approaches to social media tell us about the relationship between illicit drug use communities, public discourse and social change?
Location: PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - LG02, 
Goldsmiths, University of London, Building 2
Campus Map 


Contributors:
  • Alexia Maddox, Deakin University, Australia
  • Monica Barratt, NDARC, University of NSW, Australia
  • Matthew Allen, Deakin University, Australia
  • Simon Lenton, NDRI, Curtin University, Australia

Background:

Discussion online of illicit drug taking can be seen as a knowledge sharing that creates a sense of shared community for drug users, which can lead to harm reduction and also offers social resistance to mainstream drug-use narratives (Bancroft & Reid, 2016; Barratt, Allen & Lenton, 2014). Online drug discussion and the communities of interest formed through that discussion have been common in Australia for at least twenty years. As internet communication technologies have changed during this time, so too have the ways in which that discussion occurs. Recent developments in social media therefore have created new socio-technical forms for online drug discussion. This study will focus on online public discussion via social media platforms (such as Twitter) about the recent provisions for legal supply of medicinal cannabis in Australia. Through the specific focus of this study on an illicit drug with recently legalised supply and access avenues, we seek to reduce possible harms to the online drug discussion community yet retain the benefits of studying how a stigmatised topic such as illicit drug use is engaged with through social media.

Objective: 

The aim of this research is to investigate whether and how social media is used to debate, amplify and curate discussion of illicit drugs online using a case study of recently legalised supply and access of an illicit drug. The second objective is the development of insights into the specific benefits to research of big data analytical approaches to social media that contributes insights into the online public debate of controversial topics.

Methods: 

The study will seek to characterise the communications network (including bots) of those who are commenting, curating and listening to this discussion. To do this, we will conduct the analysis within the Australian twittersphere using social media data curated by the Tracking Infrastructure for Social Media Analysis (TrISMA) archive. Through the use of Tableau, we will initially identify the communications network of those engaging with the topic of “medicinal cannabis”, associated hashtags (such as #medicinalcannabis, ‪#cannabis‪, #marijuana, ‪#MedicalMarijuana), and public figures and organisations, during key events leading up to and including the recent provisions for legal supply of medicinal cannabis in Australia. The analysis will then focus on developing a typology of actors characterised by: attempts at dominance (through frequency and volume of commenting); influence and amplification (through the dispersion of messages by retweets, quoting and modified tweets); and content curation (tweet streams that consistently reflect particular positions and paradigms in the debate).

Results: 

This research seeks to generate insight into how social media engagement contributes to the ways in which Australians discuss the complex social issues relating to drug use, focusing on a ‘liminal’ case of the legalisation of a normally illicit drug for specific medical purposes’

Future Work: 

This study will contribute to the rationale and generation of social media analysis of illicit drug discussion online. For future work, it will outline how the mechanisms for and configurations of social engagement, influence and information dissemination identified through this case study can contribute new knowledge of social change processes through big data analytical approaches to social media.

References:

Bancroft, A., & Scott Reid, P. (2016). Challenging the techno-politics of anonymity: the case of cryptomarket users. Information, Communication & Society, 1-16. doi: 10.1080/1369118x.2016.1187643

Barratt, M. J., Allen, M., & Lenton, S. (2014). ‘PMA sounds fun’: Negotiating drug discourses online. Substance Use and Misuse, 49, 987-998. 



Tuesday July 12, 2016 10:31 - 12:00
PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - LG02 Goldsmiths University, Building 2

10:31

Мapping and understanding affective publics on Twitter: Refugees and the Paris Attacks
Location: PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - LG02, 
Goldsmiths, University of London, Building 2
Campus Map 

Contributors:
  • Eugenia Siapera, Dublin City University, Ireland
  • Moses Boudourides, University of Patras, Greece
  • Ioanna Iliadi, Open University of Cyrpus, Greece

Within an increasingly hostile context for refugees and following the debates on the role of social media in political participation, the proposed contribution examines how Twitter, as a public social medium participates in debating and framing the refugee crisis during additional crisis events and breaking news, such as the Paris and Brussels attacks. Although there was no corroborated evidence of any refugee involvement in the terrorist attacks, on Twitter the refugee crisis quickly became articulated with the attacks. Focusing on the two events in Paris in November 2015 and Brussels in March 2016, the proposed article examines the co-articulations of terrorism and forced migration, but also the refutations and oppositional views that emerge, and the other kinds of stories told using the same hashtags. Additionally, the analysis will examine the kinds of publics that are emerging around these stories, in order to understand how publics and stories on refugees and terrorists come together on Twitter. 

Empirically, this is a big data study, relying on harvested tweets using relevant hashtags in the two week period before and after the terrorist attacks. The analysis looks at the different co-articulated hashtags and keywords, as well as at the replies, shares and favourites of the various tweets, in order to understand the kinds of stories told at the time. The analysis will include a more detailed discourse analysis of the most shared and favourited tweets. Finally, the analysis will include geotagging and mapping of the self-ascribed identity profiles, which will provide a more detailed understanding of who participates in the making and dissemination of stories and the networked publics that emerge.  

Theoretically, the paper will make use of two constructs: Nick Couldry’s (2008) digital storytelling and Zizi Papacharissi’s (2015) affective publics. However, we argue that this body of work prioritises the dimension of the personal and connective element, but overlook the impetus for this connection, which we argue lies in the material world, including the historical material world and the digital material world. While digital storytelling and affective publics take into account the digital material, i.e. the digital infrastructures and architectures, they overlook or bracket the ways in which these are mapped onto material dimensions and experiences outside and beyond those on social media. The paper assumes a historical materialist approach which looks at the ways in which struggles for scarce material resources become entangled in storytelling and affective investment in the refugee crisis. Moreover, what is at stake here goes beyond a contribution to ‘soft structures of feeling’, as affects may be usurped by the rising right wing parties in Europe. It therefore becomes crucial to identify and explicitly link the material to the affective and to the digital.  

Tuesday July 12, 2016 10:31 - 12:00
PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - LG02 Goldsmiths University, Building 2