Monday, February 27, 2012

Virtual Geography Convention 2012: Information Diffusion and the 2011 Egyptian Uprising

Leysia Palen and Kate Starbird, both of the University of Colorado - Boulder, have presented (How) Will the Revolution be Retweeted? Information Diffusion and the 2011 Egyptian Uprising  (PDF).

While the paper is not strictly geography, social media is being used by geographers to map instability and is allowing events to be examined as if they are social infections.  The abstract reads:

This paper examines microblogging information diffusion activity during the 2011 Egyptian political uprisings.  Specifically, we examine the use of the retweet mechanism on Twitter, using empirical evidence of information propagation to reveal aspects of  work that the crowd conducts. Analysis of the widespread contagion of a popular meme reveals interaction between those who were “on the ground” in Cairo and those who were not. However, differences between information that appeals to the larger crowd and those who were doing on-the-ground work reveal important interplay between the two realms. Through both qualitative and statistical description, we show how the crowd expresses solidarity and does the work of information processing through recommendation and filtering. We discuss how these aspects of work mutually sustain crowd interaction in a politically sensitive context. In addition, we show how features of this retweet recommendation behavior could be used in combination with other indicators to identify information that is new and likely coming from the ground.

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