Another presentation at the Future Everything conference that had a lot of integrity was that from Farida Vis, a social media researcher at the University of Leicester in the Media and Communications Dept. Her presentation focussed on her collaborative research into the relationship between last years summer riots and Twitter.
She described how tweets were spread that the Birmingham Children’s Hospital had been attacked by rioters. This was not true. Over several hours people spread this rumour, then people started questioning it, by forwarding tweets from friends/family who were at the hospital. Then people began to debunk the false rumour. Then next morning people retweeted the original rumour and the false story spread again, until people debunked the rumour finally. She and her colleagues analysed the data in depth to explore and understand how social media is working in times of social un-rest, asking who was doing the tweeting, and whether twitter messages where inciting the riots.
She talked of how she’s been combining analytical insight with data journalism – and looking at the ‘little data’ within the ‘big data’. She emphasised that to understand the data you have to understand the context that it’s being sent in.
I am interested in Farida’s approach to analysing social media data. I found this all fascinating in terms of reflecting on human communication, action, understanding and how groups of individuals work and make decisions together.