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Digital research – Reading the riots on Twitter

by on October 29, 2012

The Oxford Internet Institute held a conference last month on Big Data. For those interested in digital research, the Institute have posted a useful conference summary in this blog  including links to podcasts of some of the keynote speeches.

I was particularly interested in this paper on the 2011 riots by Rob Procter of the Manchester e-Research Centre. One of the trends we have noticed in our data is the discursive linking of youth unemployment and social unrest.

Theorising tweets as Big Data, the paper reports findings from analysis of 2.5 million tweets sent over the period of the riots and their immediate aftermath. According to the paper, they found that, ‘contrary to claims made in some initial reactions, Twitter was much less a vehicle for inciting violence but much more a mechanism that allowed reactions to the events to be formed’.

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