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Archive for March, 2011

A Quick Video Tour of Pulse, How We Extract Sentiment from Social Media

by March 31, 2011

Earlier today I gave a talk to the Social Computing Group at the University of Minnesota. The talk featured our approach for teasing out sentiment and pubic opinion from social media, with a focus on data from our recent weather mood and global warming pilots. As a bit of an experiment, I ran through the talk again this evening and recorded a video. We would love to get any and all feedback!

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Global Warming Chatter: A Hot Topic on Twitter?

by March 28, 2011

Some months ago, our research team developed a strategy for inferring opinions about global warming from Twitter for our Pulse platform. We were lucky to be asked last week if we could present such data for the next issue of Momentum, the award-winning publication of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. Of course, like all of us on a deadline, they needed it “yesterday.”

Not to be deterred, we rapidly spun up our collection system to grab those Twitter tweets that included the keywords global warming, climate change, and #climate. For a six day period ending on 23 March, we collected about 7600 tweets that had some geo-location information associated with them. Based on our recent experience focused on weather mood (described in this post), and because we had already generated a good number of quality control units (as described here), we posted a major job on the CrowdFlower platform within a day of the request from the Momentum team. Here’s a snapshot of the results:

momentum_dropshadow_300dpi (more…)

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Coming This Summer: The Dialogue Earth Media Challenge

by March 28, 2011

Dialogue Earth Media Challenge - homepage At Dialogue Earth, our mission is to increase public understanding on key societal topics. Since we launched a little over a year ago, we’ve spent every day trying to figure out how we make that happen.

Months of strategy meetings and pilot tests have culminated in the creation of a new event.

The inaugural Dialogue Earth Media Challenge™ will be a year-long series of 10 video contests focused on energy topics. Beginning in July 2011, creative people from across the U.S. and beyond will compete to produce compelling, short videos on a range of topics—including the basics of various energy sources, energy efficiency, hybrids, and smart grid.

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A Sentimental Look at SXSW

by March 21, 2011

 

sxsw-banner South by Southwest (SXSW) is the annual opportunity for startups across art and technology to prove themselves or, more often than not, generate buzz in the attempt. Whether you’re checking out the latest surf rock 3-piece or organizing drinks via group text, SXSW generates chatter – and a lot of it.

We couldn’t resist the lure of participation, albeit from across the country, so we decided to turn our developing Pulse technology, for analyzing social sentiment, on the interactive portion of the event. We focused on something a little different, though…

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Digging into the South-by-Southwest (SXSW) Twitter Traffic on Apple & Google

by March 16, 2011

ssGiven we couldn’t be at South by Southwest (SXSW) this year, we thought it would be interesting to apply our developing Pulse technology to the Twitter chatter connected with the event. Pulse represents our approach to sifting out interesting information from social media dialogue. Our first major application has been in the area of weather mood, a pilot study of which is chronicled here.

The quick overview is that we leverage the power of the crowd using CrowdFlower’s platform to extract a high-quality, nuanced understanding of sentiment from Twitter tweets. Prior to going to the crowd, we develop a strategy to create a survey that we can give to crowd-based workers so that they can make reliable judgments about author sentiment. We then collect a bunch of relevant tweets, do some pre-processing to limit the size of the sentiment coding job sent to the crowd, do some preliminary rounds of coding to ensure quality control, and then run a coding job on a large number of tweets. (more…)

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The Energy Challenge Series – Our First Concept Phase

by March 15, 2011

dialogue-earth-energy-promo-imageThrough our trials, we have found that it is best while administering our video production contests through Tongal to start out with a concept phase.  By starting the contests in this way, it gives us more opportunity to give feedback and a little bit more quality control as opposed to just allowing the producer contestants to create videos based on their interpretations of our instructions.

Also by allowing for the concept phase, we can involve the best storywriters within the creative community, many of whom do not have the resources to produce videos.  This increases overall participation, seeds our project with great concepts, and plays towards the collaborative spirit of our crowdsourcing endeavor.

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60 Seconds to Start to Answer, Why Dialogue Earth?

by March 12, 2011

As we work to develop partnerships and to garner support from individuals and organizations, we continually must answer the question, “Why Dialogue Earth?”

We are passionate about our mission to increase public understanding on societal topics, and believe very strongly in our strategy to understand the dialogue and to create relevant, trustworthy and engaging media.

After much deliberation (described in a post here), the Dialogue Earth team made the decision to turn to the crowd to help tell our story.

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Teasing Out Weather Mood From Twitter Posts: A Pulse Pilot

by March 8, 2011

In choosing a topic to use as a test case for our Pulse social media analytics tool, we wanted to pick something that is broadly discussed. What better topic to start with than people’s mood about the weather? It is hard to escape having a few thoughts about the weather on a regular basis. Snow storms, sunny warm days, and heatwaves, to mention a few, cross party lines and ideological divides. Plus, people love to discuss the weather, so we figured there would be lots of chatter in the social media—and we haven’t been disappointed. Read more on our weather strategy here.

In this post, I describe our first demonstration of the Pulse platform to describe weather mood across the U.S. using 12,500 tweets collected on February 4th. While our process is a work in progress, there are several key steps: identifying and collecting useful social media posts, getting reliable judgments about the sentiment in these posts made by crowd-sourced workers, publishing the data on our Pulse platform, and finally, combining our sentiment data with external data sources to tease out a story about the drivers of the observed sentiment.

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In Search of Quality Control with Crowd-Based Sentiment Judgments

by March 4, 2011

In a previous post, I described our evolving approach for developing a question that can be addressed on our Pulse platform. We’ve also described previously why we think crowdsourcing is a smart way to get lots of judgments made about sentiment expressed in the social media. But, what about quality control? How can we maintain an acceptable level of quality control while relying on the crowd to make thousands and thousands of judgments?

Quality through known answers and feedback to workers. We were drawn to CrowdFlower because of their approach for ensuring quality control using what they call “gold”. In a typical “assignment” set up on the CrowdFlower platform, a worker needs to make judgments for a group, or assignment, of “units” (a unit in our case would be an individual Twitter tweet). Within every assignment, CrowdFlower includes a gold unit for which we have indicated the correct answer. By setting an assignment to include 15 tweets, it means that a worker will be presented with a gold unit within each new batch of 15 tweets. (more…)

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Preparing to Extract Weather Mood from Tweets

by March 3, 2011

weather-tweet1

Yep, it was cold this morning in the Twin Cities. I didn’t need Twitter to tell that. Yet, we can’t always assume that, just because it is cold, people are upset, or that because it is warm, people are happy about the weather. But, we believe tweets will reveal something quite interesting: how people’s emotions are indirectly affected by the weather. For example, are people happy to be inside watching a movie even though it is “super chilly” outside? Or happy that the it is raining because it will help the garden, even though they may not be eager to be out in the rain themselves?

weather-tweet2

Having set the stage for tackling the issue of weather mood on our Pulse platform, here I describe our process for developing weather as a Pulse topic. (more…)

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