#edDDI: Digital Day of Ideas 2015

2016 update: #DigScholEd was liveblogged by Nicola Osborne. Keynotes from literary historian Ted Underwood on Predicting the past, a distant reading type approach to digital libraries, Lorna Hughes on Content, co-curation and innovation: digital humanities and cultural heritage collaboration, and Karen Gregory on Conceptualizing digital sociology.

Bumped/rewritten post – see below for brief mentions of #edDDI in 2014 and 2013 and other #digitalhss doings.

From the #digitalhss stable came Digital Day of Ideas 2015 (#EdDDI | TAGSExplorer – see graph) on 26 May, livetweeted, blogged and Storified by Lorna Campbell (@LornaMCampbell), with recordings of the talks to come.

Speakers and outputs:

Other #edDDIs:

#digitalhss in four keys: medicine, law, bibliography and crime, workshop on 12 November 2013, liveblogged by Nicola Osborne:

  • Digital articulations in medicine (Alison Crockford) – ah, the Surgeons’ Hall…seeks to illuminate the relationship between literature and medicine in Edinburgh through the development of a digital reader,  joining together not only the literary and medical spheres but also the rapidly expanding field of the digital and the medical humanities; interesting points on the nature of digihum and public engagement issues, see Dissecting Edinburgh for more
  • Rethinking property: copyright law and digital humanities research (Zhu Chen Wei) – the entrenched idea of copyright as an exclusive property regime is ill suited for understanding digihum research activities; how might copyright law respond to the challenges posed by digital humanities research, in particular the legality of mass digitisation of scholarly materials and the possible copyright exemption for text and data mining
  • Building and rebuilding a digital catalogue for modern Chinese Buddhism (Gregory Scott) – the Digital Catalogue of Chinese Buddhism is a collection of data on over 2300 published items with a web based, online interface for searching and filtering its content; can the methods and implications of working with a large number of itemised records, bibliographic or otherwise, be applied to other projects?; channelling Borges’ library of Babel 
  • Digitally mapping crime in Edinburgh, 1900-1939 (Louise Settle) – specifically an historical geography of prostitution in Edinburgh; used Edinburgh Map Builder, developed as part of the Visualising Urban Geographies project, which allows you to use National Library of Scotland maps, Google Maps and your own data; viz helps you spot trends and patterns you may not have noticed before;  for locations elsewhere in UK Digimap includes both contemporary and historical maps; Historypin uses historical photography to create maps, (EH4, plus come in #kierkegaard); see also the Edinburgh Atlas

See also the workshop on data mining on 19 November 2013.

Mapping a community: a SNA case study

(Post copied from Danegeld blog, 4 Feb 2015.)

Update, July 2015: see Hazel Hall on DREaM Again (again), investigating the long term impact of the project. Splendid! May 2016: not much on #sna lately, apart from a snippet on R4’s Digital Human: Are you more likely to find what you’ve lost using online social networks? Are we as connected as we think we are? Or does it make more sense to step out of the digital world and search with the help of physical social networks? A larger network of weaker/looser ties is more effective in finding something lost – these ties have information you don’t have. Other factors also come into play, eg how navigable is the network? The same processes go on IRL, with the Lost and Found Office now also online.

Over the last couple of years I followed the work of the DREaM project, aimed at building a community of LIS researchers in the UK. Effective event amplification provided me with an introduction to social network analysis (SNA; nearly two years ago now!) and a host of other research methods.

The DReAM project SNA’d themselves, specifically a cadre of 33 individuals who attended all the f2f events and created the network ‘core’. In the first workshop the participants provided data on (1) individuals’ awareness of the research expertise and knowledge of other participants, and (2) social/ interactional links across the network, data which was collected again at the final workshop. The hypothesis was that analysis of the two sets of data would reveal changes in levels of integration among the DREaM cadre and network density among the group as a whole over the series of workshops – ie that integration and network density would increase.

Initial findings were presented at the final DREaM event and a paper finally published in the Journal of Documentation in October – see  Hazel Hall’s post for full details and to download the manuscript. The paper offers a potential model for nurturing and assessing network and community (of practice) development, specifically a developing, or emergent, network based on spontaneously formed ties, which could also be applied to NSMNSS , the legal education community, Danish literary translators, walking types, etc. As well as a useful overview of the development of SNA from the 1930s it provides a model for moving forward from the presentation of network diagrams, discussing features of network articulation and measurement, relational ties and network roles.

Methodology and findings:

  • data were input manually into Ucinet v.6 and visualised network diagrams (sociograms) were produced using Netdraw; measures of density and degree centrality were calculated using Ucinet
  • the sociograms highlighted the centrality of position of certain participants, prompting speculation as to their identity and the reasons behind this centralisation as well as discussion on the meaning behind some of the more isolated positions occupied by some of the outliers
  • the findings from the first round of data collection demonstrated that the participant networks were not very highly connected, and heavily centralised around a small number of actors from one role
  • analysis of data collected in the course of the final workshop reveals a demonstrable increase in network density, indicating a much more closely linked and robust network; more evenly linked, with less dependence on two or three very densely networked actors, when analysed by role several categories had moved to a more central position, one category had formed a clique and one category seemed particularly adept at network building, with most members moving towards the centre of the network
  • not all the key players were those one might have expected to play such roles; a small number of relatively novice researchers proved to be particularly strong networkers and were central to the network structure (this was not explored further due to ethical concerns)
  • greater change in the density of the network with regard to expertise awareness than for interaction, suggesting that even if participants had not had one-to-one interaction with another participant they were still more likely to know of their area of research expertise – ie who knows what, typical of a work related rather than ‘social’ network
  • note of caution: in an information sharing network, for example, an actor with a high degree of betweenness centrality may be playing the role of either broker or a bottleneck – for most network patterns multiple interpretations are possible, and it is therefore appropriate to follow up such analysis with qualitative research that seeks to explore likely explanations (data from other sources included a ‘before and after’ audit of skills and feedback on face to face events)


  • the results suggest that network density and integration can be increased by structured and informal social and work based interaction; a model of combining workshops with social events and the use of social media reduces the isolation often experienced by the researcher, in particular the solitary, novice or practitioner researcher
  • increased network density and integration reduces the dependence of the network on a couple of actors, making the sustainability of the network more likely and increasing network capital – more likely that participants will be able to leverage potential benefits
  • potential drawbacks – a higher density of network structure and the formation of cliques may pose a barrier to incomers and increased homogenisation – homophily; it is critical to ensure that barriers to entry to the network remain low with a network of loose ties; individuals should be encouraged to play an active role in boundary spanning, ensuring innovation, opportunity and diversity of viewpoint
  • the challenge is to maintain the existing links and further develop the network so that it evolves into a self sustaining and continuously developing supportive community

Specific interventions used to increase and strengthen network ties over the course of the project included pre-event social meetups, a Twitter list, curation over the full event lifecycle, a Spruz community, participant led sessions, event reporters.

The role of event amplification in particular is interesting, an issue which keeps popping up and perhaps has potential in proving its ROI. Effective event coverage can in fact change the nature of an event, ensuring that participants can make the most of f2f interaction and are better able to reflect after the event. Alan Cann touches on this issue too in his recent post on the way forward for #solo13 – the conference as aggregator, building an online community of mutual support. The same goes for MOOCs, but the role of aggregation and curation is often overlooked.

Some #sna bits n bobs picked up from the paper:

Commonly measured network features:

  • size – at the actor level: the number of linkages an actor has; at network level: the total number of linkages in the network
  • reachability – the accessibility of points of the network based on a notion of path, ie the connected sequence of linkages by which it is possible to move from one point to another in the network; a point is reachable when there is a path between points
  • density – the degree to which actors are linked to one another; parts of a path are dense if each of its points is reachable from every other
  • centrality – the degree to an individual actor is near others in the network and the extent to which the person lies on the shortest path between others and thus has potential for control over their communication

Examples of relational ties:

  • evaluation of one person by another – friendship, liking, respect
  • transfer of material resources – business transaction, lending, borrowing
  • association/affiliation – jointly attending the same social event, belonging to the same club
  • behavioural interaction – talking together, sending messages
  • movement between places or statuses – migration, social or physical mobility
  • physical connection – co-location at work
  • formal relations – authority
  • biological relations – kinship, descent
  • communication relations – sharing of publications, discussion of ideas

Example of network diagrams from Martin Hawksey:

network diagrams from Martin Hawksey:

#nsmnss: the story of a network

Updates: Dec 2013: tweetchat on defining #some: Storify | Huma Bird analysis…August 2013: see paper (26 pages, PDF) on developing the network; the section on the community of practice looks particularly interesting

On 23 April the NSMNSS network held a digital debate, the last I think of a series of events before funding runs out in May. I’ve written four posts about #nsmnss, and following the blog and Twitter stream has played a key role in my learning about research methods in relation to social media over the last year – thanks to the team!

The ‘one year on’ presentation gives some insights into the success of the network and its activities. In terms of statistics, there are now 451 fully signed up members (35% non-UK) with 77 in the Methodspace group, and @nsmnss has 1000+ followers (with 900+ tweets).

I particularly liked the way the network played around with the full spectrum of f2f and virtual events (two conferences, four knowledge exchange seminars with around 25 participants each, three online seminars, seven Twitter chats), for example holding tweetchats prior to f2f events. Plus the videos shown at the digital debate were from the previous week’s conference. This hybrid/flipped events model could work well in other fora.

It is hoped to sustain the network after funding runs out – this presumably has the biggest impact on f2f events, but in the era of social media it should be feasible to carry on some activities. A poll is calling for volunteers to get involved in projects, take responsibility for organising Twitter chats, develop resources or deliver training. A test of the strength of the network!

A range of platforms was used – perhaps too many (home page vs blog vs Methodspace anyone?). One way of streamlining activities would be to slim these down and perhaps change the ratio of curation to content – another task which could be done by v0lunteers, assuming the Twitter account is to carry on.

Finally, the dog food question: is any social network analysis or other research planned as part of the network evaluation?

#lutwit: Lancaster Uni Twitter and microblogging conference

Loads of stuff from the superbly named #lutwit on researching Twitter from a (mainly) linguistics perspective, held on 10-12 April. Liveblogged by Nicola Osborne (style: verbatim) and Peter Evans. Programme and abstracts on Lanyrd, some nice posters (inc one digitally; see unscheduled sessions), Tweet Category analysis (10 April only; ipad app, $3.99).

Some stonking sessions:

Some more presos:

Big bunch on digigov: Turkish MPs use of “we” | Twitter uses in the EP, Commission and Council (liveblog) | Labour Party Peers (slides) | Italian politicians | Use of Twitter during 2010 British and Dutch elections (Nicola) | Reciprocity and preaching to the converted: a cross-national comparative analysis of politicians’ social and communication networks | 2012 elections in Belgium (Peter) | see also German politicians’  Twitter networks

Tools and recipes:

People, projects, blogs:

Other papers:

Fun stories: Reading levels of celebrities’ tweets | Happiness levels soar as people travel further from home

Forthcoming: Language online: investigating digital texts and practices (Barton & Lee)…also The discourse of blogs and wikis (Myers), Stories and social media (Page).

I did a module on computational linguistics as part of my degree, looking at a corpus of German drama, back in the mists of time. Just imagine if I’d continued down that route.

Researching the uses of Twitter: Axel Bruns at #dmmm1

I just listened to/viewed Axel Bruns’ (@snurb_dot_info) session at the Digital Methods as Mainstream Methodology event last week (see my report).

Axel put up his slidecast (embedded below) almost straightaway. It’s the first time I’ve watched a Slideshare slidecast, and no doubt there’s more to creating one than it seems, but I wish more presenters/event organisers would use them. It’s a no-nonsense way of getting what you need without the rigours of streaming, video etc – my sort of webinar. Note also that it’s been viewed nearly 1400 times in a week.

The presentation looked at mapping online publics, in particular via the use of hashtags:

  • How do different hashtag events compare?
  • How do they form and dissolve, how do they interact, what structures do they form? How big are they?
  • Do they simply consist of the usual suspects? How insular or disconnected are they? (People participating in hashtag events may be unlinked but have a level of co-awareness varying in intensity and temporality.)
  • How big is the central core of users (long tail, 90/9/1 distribution)?
  • Where do they draw information from, what do they share?
  • What ‘community’ structures emerge? What traces do they leave (eg follower generation and reciprocation).
  • What do they do – inform (links), share (retweeting un/edited, chat (@replies)? What can occurrences of @ replies, RTs, original tweets and URLs tell us?

Typology of hashtag uses:

  • gatewatching – breaking news, ad hoc publics (lots of RTs)
  • audiencing – sharing experience of major events (few URLs, limited RTing)
  • discussions – cf chats
  • memes and emotive tags

Networks and how to map them:

  • micro (@reply and RTs), meso (hashtag ‘communities’), macro (follower/followee) – multiple and overlapping
  • start from selected hashtag communities
  • identify participating users – typology?
  • retrieve follower/followee information for each account
  • identify thematic clusters
  • slow and laborious, never complete…

Uses these tools: YourTwapperKeeper, Gawk (open source, data processing), Leximancer and WordStat (commercial, textual analysis), Gephi (open source, network visualisation).

All very useful for looking at the effectiveness of amplified events and my Law Teacher 2.0 project.

Digital methods as mainstream methodology (#dmmm1)

Updates: #dmmm2 took place on 7 December, lots of pecha kucha plus Mike Thelwall again. Managed to miss #dmmm3 on 15 March as it didn’t come up on the blog – see the event report.

Digital Methods as Mainstream Methodology is, like NSMNSS, a network run by NCRM. The project aims to build capacity in digital social research, addressing the issues that digitally inspired methods present.

DMMM on social media: blog | @DMMM_NMI | Slideshare | YouTube

The first of three DMMM events was held on 9 July. I downloaded the 228 #dmmm1 tweets on the day (181 during the event), but there was exemplary coverage – Storify from the organisers, slides/audio of first session up med det samme, blog reports from @SDLjames.


  • Axel Bruns (Mapping Online Publics) on understanding the role of Twitter in public communication, studying society through the lens of Twitter – slides/audio | blog report
  • Eric Meyer on how technological innovations are shaped by disciplines, big data in the social sciences and the need for new tools – blog report | CEISMIC (Canterbury earthquakes archive, example of humanities approach to digitalise stories, images and video in areas of disaster)
  • Christine Hine on exploring the Internet in ethnographies of the everyday – blog report

The final session was an affinity mapping exercise considering the issues around putting digital methods into the mainstream, for example:

  • maintaining ethical research practices
  • avoiding unrecognised biases
  • keeping up with the pace of contemporary technological developments

New social media, new social science? (NSMNSS)

NSMNSS is a network run by NatCen Social Research, SAGE and the Oxford Internet Institute, looking at the implications of social media for social sciences methods and practice. A launch event was held on 29 May and five more events are planned over the network’s one year lifespan.

NSMNSS on social media:

The network (project?) also uses the tagline Blurring the boundaries, but it’s not quite clear where that comes in. And with a network on a network, plus a website and assorted other channels, I’d have a close look at my content strategy for starters, but that’s not why we’re here so let’s move on.

Have your say has bar charts for what people hope to gain from the network and the activities it should coordinate. The launch event was held on 29 May at RIBA. I intended to follow the stream live, but it fell over so need to revisit. Off and running, wrap-up post from yay! 31 May, summarises the key issues and attracted six comments over on the network. There are also discussions for the four workshops at the event, which may form the themes of forthcoming events: qualitative methods | qualityethics | quantitative methods.

Among all this info can’t lay hands on programme for the launch event, which has no page as such, but there are blog posts from assorted speakers:

OK this has taken an age to sort out and I haven’t so much as looked at any of the content. Last thought for now…anyone researching NSMNSS on social media? Archiving Twitter?