In case anyone’s wondering what I was up to all summer, here’s a short report I had to write up for school:
In May, a paper I am co-authoring with Germaine Halegoua (University of Kansas) and Mary Gray (Microsoft Research New England) entitled “Jumping for Fun? Negotiating Mobility and the Geopolitics of Foursquare” was presented at the International Communication Association conference. We presented the paper as part of a panel on location-based social media services.
At the end of August, I flew to the University of Maryland to take part in the annual four-day Summer Social Webshop, funded by the NSF and the Social Media Research Foundation. Webshop is a graduate student workshop focused on digital methods and inquiry, where I met and listed to graduate students and faculty working at the intersection of communications research, human-computer interaction, and large-scale data analysis.
In the industry sphere, I also attended the three-day HyperIsland Master Class, where I was invited to give two lectures to senior members of the global marketing industry about digital data, networks, and consumer behavior.
Throughout the summer, I took part in a directed reading (COMM 720) class with Doug Thomas derived around the concept of “open-source culture.” I created a syllabus for this class that contained about 75 readings on open-source software, peer production, “produsage,” and networked creativity online.
On the side, I also took and completed a class offered by Udacity, a massively open online course (MOOC) geared around computer science. I took the CS 101 (Introduction to Computer Science) course, which teaches students the programming language Python. I also explored two other Udacity classes, CS 253 (Web Development) and CS212 (Design of Computer Programs).
Throughout the summer, I worked on improving an essay I wrote in conjunction with Tom Goodnight’s Humanistic & Social Scientific Approaches to Human Communication (COMM 525) and Doug Thomas’s and Janet Fulk’s Online Communities and Networks (COMM 648) classes. The project looks at the phenomenon of using the phrase “no copyright infringement intended” in hundreds of thousands of YouTube videos. The initial paper I developed for this project look at 400 videos and examined how each users used the phrase in various contexts for sharing media on YouTube.
In mid-May, I submitted a polished version of the paper to the Carl J. Couch Internet Research Award contest for graduate students writing about the internet and symbolic interactionism. Though I did not win the award, I am conferring with one of the reviewers of my paper to improve it for publication.
Throughout the summer, I also gathered more data for this project. I set up a database and a script to collect data from YouTube for videos containing the phrase, and I currently have a database with more than 60,000 video entries (and well over 10,000 user profiles). I also plan to do interviews with particular users over the next month. The cumulation of this research will be presented at the InfoSocial graduate conference at Northwestern in October.
In addition to research, I was employed as a part-time research & development intern at a data analytics company in New York called SocialFlow, which analyzes Twitter data and networks to provide insights around information spread and timing. With the head of R&D, I worked to update their scripts to collect and analyze Japanese content. We worked on a white paper looking at the spread of Japanese memes and political news amongst Japanese users (with a particular focus on the Japanese anti-nuclear protests). The skills I learned at this internship were invaluable, and I will be using them in a project I am starting for Peter Monge’s Communication Networks (COMM 645) and Lian Jian’s Data Retrieval and Processing Techniques (COMM 620) classes to analyze content as it spreads around the massive social media site Tumblr.