Oxford University’s #SocialHumanities Datahack: Self-(Re)presentations on Social Media

This blog piece was originally published on the Digital Science blog. Click here to read the original blog post.


How do we make sense of the explosion of social media data of recent years? What can this data tell us about who we are and what we want? On the 14th of January, the TORCH #SocialHumanities network led a day-long datahack examining content from a number of social platforms in order to find and analyze trends within the social media sphere. Participants from a diverse range of backgrounds ranging from the humanities to computational science came together to tackle these issues.

The #SocialHumanities network explores the implications of social media for society, from platform design and usage, to the volumes of data generated. A Storify was produced documenting the event through a series of impactful tweets – it follows below:

It is hard to believe that 80+ people would want to go to a business school on a Saturday morning to talk about Twitter, Youtube and Facebook.
Still, on the 14th of January, that is exactly what happened: the TORCH #SocialHumanities network led a day-long datahack on examining content from those social platforms, but also from Instagram, Wikipedia, Reddit, and others. There participants, people from the humanities to the computational sciences, were interested in the same questions: how to we talk about people - us and others - online?

After the participants were introduced to Figshare by Barbara McGillivray, the event included workshops led by Prof. Mike Thelwall, from the University of Wolverhampton, Dr. Taha Yasseri and Dr. Jason Nurse, both from the University of Oxford, and Peter Fairfax, from Brandwatch.

The workshops were followed by the most important of the day: the datahack itself. The participants split themselves into groups, analysing volumes of social media data from perspectives as diverse as their backgrounds.

The whole afternoon of hacking finished with a summary of the each team's results, on how people are seen by others on Twitter, cross-platform identities, the impact of emotional speech and identity formation through discourse. And to the best presentation, a prize: drones!

A special thanks to FigShare, who sponsored the second place prize (lovely laptop covers) and the snazzy t-shirts for the best tweeters! And since some of the tweets were featured here in this Storify piece, it all comes full circle!

Thank you so much to the people at the Said Business School who made this possible and a massive thank you to all the participants in this datahack - the diversity of insights is only matched by the diversity of people taking part!

If you would like to know about the next events, follow us on twitter, or email us at socialhumanities@torch.ox.ac.uk. See you at the next #SocialHumanities event!

Cameron Shepherd

Chico Camargo


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