Oct 14

Social Media in the HK “Umbrella Revolution” a double edged sword? (Slideshow)

Do not miss the slideshow with commentary from our own reporter in Hong Kong – Johannes Kast.

Blockade of Hong Kong "Occupy Central"

Blockade of Hong Kong “Occupy Central”

This autumn, all eyes were on Hong Kong – a Chinese city with its own political and economical system after the “one country, two systems” principle was introduced following the reunification between Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China. This september, after some initial mass protests that got out of control, students and activists blocked the main roads in Hong Kong’s central governmental and financial district on September 29th demanding full suffrage on choosing their cities leader. Since then – with varying numbers of support – the protesters have set up peaceful blockades both in Hong Kong central and in Mong Kok on the mainland, while having to defend themselves against attacks from police armed with tear gas and batons, triad interferences and sometimes even civilian anti-protest groups.

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Oct 14

Big, BIG, Data Warbles

Abigail Leffler perchs on the development branch and broods over the content analysis of multilingual tweets and posts

Any collection of signs systematically arranged (or the absence thereof) can be read and interpreted. Edgar Allan Poe’s A Dream within a Dream, Edvard Munch’s The Scream painting, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, a tiger’s territorial markings in the Amur region, mobile phone traffic in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake and all the electronic footprints we ever leave behind by virtue of our Internet usage are examples of this. The key point is that, in our search for patterns or for elements that maintain or break patterns in a sample, we are searching for clues to predicting behaviour or finding trends and hidden messages.

Now for the sake of simplicity and to keep true to the title of this post, let us alight on the analysis and derivation of meaning (a.k.a. interpretation) of our Internet footprints. Let us, furthermore, focus on blogging and microblogging in the context of communication for development.

How do we analyse data from blogs and microblogs? We could be looking at quantitative methods such as collecting the amount of tweets and posts and the frequency thereof, and further we could be looking at the geographical distribution of such entries or at the speed at which they come during or after an event. We could consider which entries are the most influential within a specific period of time. We could also be looking into the qualitative content of such data, and we could be looking into a keyword analysis to gauge sentiments or determine key topics in discourse. And now let us expand on this last point. What are the caveats we need to bear in mind when the analysis is conducted within a globalised, multicultural environment, and where tweets and posts come in forms as diverse as chatter, clucks, quacks, chirps, hoots, coos and caws?

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