HAPPY APRIL FOOLS' DAY! Those papers are still due, but at least now you've had a chance to smile and relax with this scenic view of this serene canal.  Good luck with those submissions :)

Dislike this! Facebook (finally) shows love for the dislike button

Supposing that it is possible some haven't heard yet that Facebook is going to introduce a 'dislike' button to its (still) relatively popular interface, I spoke with Owen Boss of the Boston Herald recently about this *major* change, that users have been reportedly asking for, well, for years.

Now that the 'dislike' button is nearly upon us, what will happen?  Will young users return? Unlikely.  

Though I am surprised that "it took so long” for Facebook to develop a 'dislike' option, I do expect, in the broader sense that the roll-out will help the site ensure users are presented with the kind of content they want to see.

As I mentioned in my interview, “I think it makes strategic sense for Facebook to have a better metric of what people like and don’t like because it’s probably going to dictate more of what they see.”

Facebook has been moving aggressively toward more of a focus on algorithmic content delivery, and what could be better at helping Facebook deliver information to you that you want to see other than an explicit device (i.e., button) that informs the algorithm not only what you like, and what you pause to read, but what you actually don't like?

All that being said, certain shares are going to invariably violate being 'disliked', at least on the whole, including the preference of 'the Internet' for cat videos and other cute-themed memes.

Given that background, I submit the following image of the most adorable 4-year-old and contend even Facebook's 'dislike' button will constantly be negotiated.

The new normal? Social media, violence, and the construction of reality

Recently I received a call from Bob McGovern at the Boston Herald to discuss the changing news norms that social media have introduced to journalism, particularly in the wake of the shooting of two journalists in Virginia earlier this week.  While that story of course has received widespread media coverage in the US and around the world, I thought McGovern's piece was of considerable interest because it took a more meta-analytic approach to what social media means in terms of news cycles, the pressure to publish first, and how the priority of getting news "right" -- both factually and ethically -- is being renegotiated and diminished. 

The full link to that story is here, and also features the opinions of David Gerzof Richard along with my own thoughts on a broader social phenomenon of violence and individual media users as personal mass communicators of what, for lack of a better term, may be considered social media murder. 

Status Update on the BU-TCAT

Earlier today I disabled the automatic public login feature of the BU-TCAT.  The Twitter Collection and Analysis Toolkit still exists at Boston University but it is no longer something that I provide to the general public.  There are a variety of reasons for this decision, including but not limited to terms of service and the drain on my time and resources.  Those individuals that are still interested accessing the BU-TCAT or adding search terms can contact me directly.  

Apologies for any inconvenience caused. 

 The automatic public login feature for BU-TCAT has been disabled indefinitely. 

The automatic public login feature for BU-TCAT has been disabled indefinitely. 

Geolocation in Gephi with Twitter Data Tutorial

Geolocation remains an opt-in feature on Twitter, which has rendered it relatively unpopular with users -- most statistics suggest between 1% and 2% of users actually choose to provide their exact coordinates.  This enormous limitation therefore makes such data largely ungeneralizable to Twitter users more broadly (see, for example, here and here) but that has not diminished the appeal of the idea of getting to understand which users are tweeting what from where.

My graduate class in the Emerging Media Studies program at Boston University recently took up this task while fully understanding what were producing was, at best, only a fraction of all activity on any given topic.  Since I have not been able to find a decent tutorial on how to do this elsewhere, I thought I'd post mine here.  Please feel free to comment or email me with feedback.

First, we need some geolocative data.  For this example, I'll use a sample Excel dataset  (in .csv format) of 1,791 tweets about immigration that I've collected and exported of the BU-TCAT.  If you would like to access the TCAT and about 140 million tweets on a variety of topics, it is free and you can get a user and pass combo in about 30 seconds here.  I will be happy to add custom search terms upon request if you don't find something that suits your interests, just let me know.

Back to the tutorial:

To begin, we will create our nodes file for importing to gephi.  To do so, start by deleting all columns from the datafile except:

‘from_user_name’ ‘text’ ‘lang’ ‘to_user_name’ ‘location’ ‘lat’ and ‘lng'

This next step is important – you will break your nodes file if done improperly - and here we have to rename

‘from_user_name’ to ‘id’ and then copy that column and name it ‘label’

Save this file with a name of your choice, here, we will save as ‘imm_nodes.csv

At this point, we have finished making our data suitable to import into Gephi to visualize our geolocative tweets.  That is good.  Before going further, make sure you have installed both the 'Map of Countries' and 'GeoLayout' plugins in order to see where your tweets actually are coming from in the world.  Both are free and available by going under the Tools -- > Plugins --> Available Plugins menu of Gephi.

Once installed, reopen Gephi as necessary and start by going to

File --> New Project

Then run the 'Map of Countries' using 'Layout' in the Overview tab of Gephi.  Once done, you should see an empty general map of the world, like this:

Now, click on the Data Laboratory tab in Gephi and follow these steps:

Import Spreadsheet --> imm_nodes.csv (import as ‘Nodes table’)

Leave ‘Force nodes to be created as new ones’ checked.  Once you have imported your nodes, go back to the Overview tab in Gephi.  You should see a box of nodes more or less hovering over Atlantic Ocean, Africa, or Europe.  Not to worry.

Run the 'Geo Layout' spatialization using the layout menu, be sure here to set

'Latitude' as 'lat' and 'Longitude' as 'lng' 

Once run, all the nodes should have a proper geolocative home, as below.  

Of course, at this point, it is clear a few things are missing, namely edges and color.  While we can deal easily enough with color, we will have to save the adding of edges for the next tutorial.  

To add color, in this case by language of tweets, in the Overview tab of Gephi, go to

Filters --> Attributes --> Partition --> background_map (Node) 

Select 'null' and Filter.  This will allow the nodes to have color added without adding color to the nodes of the background map.  To add color the nodes, in the Overview tab of Gephi, go to Partition in the upper left of your screen, not under the Filters menu, make sure 'Nodes' is highlighted and select 

Partition --> Refresh --> lang 

Once you click Apply, you can see the language that users (nodes) identified in their profile, and this gives some sense of not only where but in which language users are tweeting about immigration around the world.  

Go back and turn off the background map Filter and you should see something like this.

That is it -- welcome to the wonderful world of geolocation :)  Future posts will address adding edges, as well as making graphs dynamic and interactive for the web.  

Let me know questions or issues @jgroshek or jgroshek '@'

Hope it is helpful!  Thanks!



Latest Citations

I'm very pleased to have seen some of my recent works cited in leading research journals in the field of media and communication.

First, my Journal of Communication article, "Media, Instability, and Democracy: Examining the Granger-Causal Relationships of 122 Countries From 1946 to 2003" was cited in the recently published article (also from the Journal of Communication) that is entitled "Tents, Tweets, and Events: The Interplay Between Ongoing Protests and Social Media".

Second, a piece I co-authored in Social Science Computer Review, "Public Sentiment and Critical Framing in Social Media Content During the 2012 U.S. Presidential Campaign" was cited in a Global Media and Communication article entitled "Sectarianism and the Arab Spring: Framing the popular protests in Bahrain".

This sort of good news is always most welcome, especially as new deadlines have me constantly moving on to new research projects.  

It is very rewarding to be recognized by these scholars, especially in such rich pieces of media research.