A study out of Cardiff University has shown that Twitter can be used to predict events like riots and that it can be done faster than by police reports. Using the 2011 London Riots as a dataset, they fed 1.6 million tweets through their machine learning algorithm and it identified incidents faster than traditional methods. In each case their system was faster than police receiving on the ground reports.
This isn't quite the Oracle of Delphi yet but one can imagine that a behavioral analysis placed on top of this detection system could have some real predictive power.
via The Verge
Over at FiveThiryEight, Trevor Martin has used semantic analysis to break down subreddits and find similarities between communities.
So what does that mean? It means you can add and subtract subreddits to show a commonality among the users. So for example, if you add r/minnesota and r/nba together you get r/timberwolves (their local basketball team). The article spends most of its time looking at r/the_donald. It turns out that if you subtract r/politics from he mix you get a bunch of hate subreddits.
You can do your own math here.
I was kinda hoping to go Trump-free for at least a while, but here we are. Within days of taking office Donald Trump's administration has ordered a bevy of federal agencies to stop disseminating information without direct approval. In response, yesterday the Twitter account of Badlands National Park started tweeting out facts about climate change.
Donald Trump famously believes that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. Most of the rest of the world in contrast know that climate change is perhaps the biggest crisis facing humanity today.
The tweets didn't last long before being deleted. According to a Buzzfeed reporter the tweets were made by a former employee. Kudos to the former employee. For their sake I hope they were former before the tweets and not after.
There are a few lessons I think we can take away from this on a practical level.
- Change your passwords whenever someone who has access to your social media (or CMS or whatever) leaves. It's a pain in the ass but otherwise you're just depending on their good nature to not fuck you over.
- Treat your social media people with some respect. Chances are they're young, passionate, underpaid, and wield a disproportionate amount of power. In a world that loves a good social media fueled controversy, and where Twitter and Facebook are the face of your organization, they wield the power to wreck you.
EDIT: a few alternate unoffical National Park Services Twitter accounts have sprung up in the wake of this - @BadHombreNPS and @AltNatParkSer, which has 379k+ followers!
via CBS News
The Internet Archive has launched a huge archive of everything that Donald Trump has said on video. At least in news interviews, rallies, etc. since 2009. You may have noticed he has a habit of denying things said before. As of this writing it's just shy of 800 videos and what I can only assume is hundreds of hours of bloviating.
I find this really interesting as, in a bit of synchronicity, I've been reading The Daily Show (The Book), which is an oral history of the show. This cataloguing of what politicians say is something that, surprisingly, The Daily Show pioneered back in the day. Or at least they were the ones to actually make use of contrasting footage.
A fair bit of time in the book is dedicated to the logistics necessary to be able to juxtapose clips of politicians contradicting themselves. What they had to do with a team of interns and researchers and more DVRs than anyone should own, we can now do with just an internet connection.
via Nieman Lab