Engage 2014: a conversation on #some

Update: the AHRC/BBC R3 New Generation Thinkers 2017 have just been revealed – while it feels like a very Oxbridge endeavour, easy to mock, it does bring up some items of interest…public engagement doesn’t seem to be a thing (yet) in Denmark, but there is DR’s Rosenkjærprisen (Wikipedia), awarded for annually for the best dissemination of a tricky topic.

…Three sessions at Engage 2014 focused on research communication and dissemination:

  • A Conversation with the public
  • Social media communities: challenges, lessons and opportunities for engagement with science
  • Attributes of digital engagers: academic identity and role in engaged research online

First up, A Conversation with the public. The Conversation (@ConversationUK) is a current affairs website offering “academic rigour and journalistic flair”, targeting a niche in the market with “in-depth, research informed, academic-led insight”.

Articles are written by experts, ie the individual researchers, with editors for eg Scotland. It’s fast moving, with eg a rolling response to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement. Owned and governed by a trust, with a range of funders.

I’ve just signed off the newsletter (it’s been in ‘too much’ corner for a while, although the editor’s note is well done) and taken a proper look:

  • RSS feeds at faculty level
  • topics in abundance which you can follow via RSS or as a reader, but not controlled, limiting usefulness
  • bunging in Denmark brings up nine results, inc the usual suspects but rather deeper than the mainstream press; duly RSSd
  • republishing is invited – this is probably key
  • is there much conversation? you need to be registered as a reader to comment; on the blog (no RSS) there’s a weekly off topic space for general discussion, that must keep someone busy…have to wonder how much it is the same people talking to themselves

The Danish equivalent, Videnskab.dk (Facebook | Twitter) looks very similar, with faculty or higher RSS and topics, RSS hidden for those, but should work if you bung them in a reader. They also offer courses on research communication and formidling (~dissemination). Trying out the newsletter for now. Again, looks like overload, and wonder about usage levels.

No English spotted, but turns out there’s also something called ScienceNordic.com (Facebook | Twitter), set up in partnership with a similar service in Norway and covering a pretty broad definition of science including the ‘human sciences’. Duly newsletter’d for now, with an RSS feed for the society & culture section. If you prefer to engage aurally, there’s also Pod Academy.

Next up, Social media communities: challenges, lessons and opportunities for engagement with science with Oliver Marsh (@SidewaysScience). Social media offers a range of opportunities for public engagement, but what role should researchers play in these emerging spaces, and what skills and support might they need to engage effectively? Are gatekeepers still needed?

Finally, Attributes of digital engagers: academic identity and role in engaged research online – the potential for digital forms of communication to support and create opportunities for engaged research, with Trevor Collins (Open) and Ann Grand (@ann2_g). The session involved a Visitors and Residents mapping to explore how people engage in online places – see blog post for more.

Mapping #some

Update, Feb 2015: Tourists v locals: city heat maps showing geolocated tweets; tourists in CPH can be found in the city centre and at the airport, duh…but interesting concept! Here’s more…

Eric Fisher (Flickr | Twitter):

Cue #SoMe klaxon! Week 4 of #mapmooc looked at social media as spatial data, how social media can be used with maps, advantages and pitfalls…and just how easy it actually is to plot it on a map.

On Twitter few tweets are geotagged.  We’re up to a grand total of three in the #mapmooc TAGS archive – two by me plus:

But not:

See the difference in @asudell‘s stream:


#vandymaps are also having issues:

Seems that tweets made with the web client only get geolocation information (coordinates) in TAGS if they are tagged individually, but not if the user has merely added location in Settings, which TAGS doesn’t collect (htow about the vanilla Twitter API?). OTOH mobile apps, with inbuilt GPS, _do_ offer geocoordinates simply when location is turned on. At least I think that’s right – thanks to @derekbruff and @asudell for sorting this out!

(Update: @derekbruff has set up a #vandymaps archive, and is investigating geotagging tweets. Checking the #mapsmooc archive reveals that two of my own tweets, where I added location via the Twitter Web client, are the only ones with data in the geo_coordinates field. I’ve extracted the data from the user_lang field and will take a closer look PDQ.)

But even a small set of tweets can offer potentially interesting results – see What’s happening in our vicinity from Field Office (an arts project currently going on in CPH) – a snapshot of geotagged tweets using the Streamd.in app, plus the Esri Public Information Map, in the week’s mapping assignment. This shows the real time effects of extreme weather events and other natural disasters, including geotagged social content from Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube. As noted in the forums however this is a rather blunt instrument with a poor signal to noise ratio.

Tweetmap Alpha is a further tool to filter geotagged tweets. As we know geotagging and privacy kinda go together. GeoSocial Footprint looks at the location information you divulge on Twitter in the light of potential privacy concerns. A footprint is made up of GPS enabled tweets, social check-ins, natural language location searching (geocoding) and profile harvesting. It states that “14 million tweets per day contain embedded GPS coordinates and up to 35% of all tweets containing additional location information”, which seems rather higher than in my experience.

Geolocating tweets the hard way

Back in lesson 1, it was noted that locations relevant to a particular tweet could include:

  • the locations mentioned in the message itself
  • the user’s location when they created the message
  • the user’s home location
  • the locations implied by the message

What are you plotting when you plot location? Where people live, where they work, where there is free wifi?

And from a thread, the following methods can be used to determine the spatial origin of tweets:

  • gelocation (geotags?)
  • Geo-IP and user designations (haven’t a clue)
  • the location from the user’s profile

So, there’s more to it than geotagging via GPS. See for example Tweak The Tweet, which uses “a hashtag-based syntax to help direct Twitter communications for more efficient data extraction”.

A bunch of maps were presented on the forums, including a lone Facebook example (Mapping the world’s friendships), leading to extensive discussions on sentiment analysis and how it might/not work. Happy days!

For starters, at least three university projects use Twitter to understand [emotions] in the USA, including…

Other projects which may/not be connected to the above: Emography | Tweetfeel | Twittermood | We feel fine | Mappiness (UK). Enough already! Update, June 2014: Five Labs ” analyzes your Facebook posts to predict the personalities of you and your friends”.

More clues on sophisticated methods IRT geolocation no doubt to be found in:

I could also do with:

A nice story to finish, in the warm up to week 5.  #mapmoocer Tony Targonski created a map of Seattle on an earlier Coursera MOOC: “Larger circles mean more social activity. Greener colour represents more “positive” than expected; redder is less “positive” than expected. In this case “positive” refers to valence (a commonly used measure of sentiment), and “expected” is the predicted valence score based on the walkability measure of the block (overall more walkable places correlate with more positive sentiment).”

Which is an interesting point IRT Happy Denmark. They’re not happy, they just bike a lot (like I didn’t know).

#mapmooc statistics week 4 (7-13 August):

  • 656 (558; 374; 206) tweets, 202 (181, 117, 82) RTs, 264 (212, 112, 61) links (all +/- due to time zone differences)
  • top tweeters: @MapRevolution, @DougOfNashville, @PublicUniverse
  • n=246 (230, 152, 129); 157 (155 (102, 74) have tweeted only once
  • 61 (54, 40, 30) threads 9 (9 (11, 12)%
  • top conversationalists: @MapRevolution, @derekbruff, @annindk

Postscript: among its rather nice web apps Esri offers a social media app (hopefully a bit more stable than the gallery app) plus stuff on making a social media map in minutes – come in! See the Horn of Africa Drought Crisis Map for an example.

As a quick test I took a look at Denmark’s most popular hashtag,#dkpol. Danes aren’t big tweeters, but they are big mobile users and #dkpol people are a pretty vociferous bunch, but the results were rather underwhelming. Putting #SoMe on a map seems to be less about creating a meaningful map and more about simply harvesting the data – see We are on Albert Drive for an example of what can be done. To be revisited.