Journeying with social media data

We will present findings from two projects that work with large social media datasets in The Social and Political Life of Methods -conference at the University of Helsinki. Time: 23rd of October, 12.00-14.30. Place: Unioninkatu 40 (Metsätalo), lecture hall 6. The session is open for all.

Methods in action – journeying with social media data

Citizen Mindscapes takes advantage of the discussion forum Suomi24 (“Finland24”) data, opened for research purposes in 2015. The data covers a time period of more than fifteen years and consists of tens of millions online messages in topics such as local affairs, health, food, religion, and celebrity gossip. Its sister project, Smarter Social Media Analytics, studied and developed methods to identify trends and phenomena using a database of one billion Finnish social media messages from various platforms. We bring together scholars with disciplinary backgrounds ranging from statistics and machine learning to sociology and media studies with the aim of demonstrating the consequences that methodological choices have for exploring large digital datasets and subsequent knowledge production. We will show how methods enable us to “see” what is in the social media data by revealing the particular nature and quality of social media discussion data. We emphasize how important it is not to lose sight of the ways in which and by whom the data has been produced. While we present our findings regarding particular datasets, we discuss the strengths and weaknesses of digital methods and demonstrate how by comparing methods and using them alongside each other, we can highlight the different epistemologies and economic and political aims that research on large datasets promotes.

Chair: Minna Ruckenstein

Auli Harju: Peer support and colliding views: Online survey of Suomi24 discussion forum users.

Jussi Pakkasvirta: How to analyze nationalist stereotypes from social media data – from quantitative to qualitative.

Laura Savolainen: The messiness of online forum data as its definitive feature: Trash talk and hyperbole in Suomi24’s discussions on binge eating disorder

Juha Alho: Missing data from the perspective of statistical science

Mika Pantzar: Crawling in big data: Unifying and dividing methodological aims in Citizen Mindscapes

Minna Ruckenstein: Mixed methods and unintended research findings

Mikko Jauho, Salla-Maaria Laaksonen & Juho Pääkkönen: The social life of visualizations in data-intensive social research

Discussants: Jennifer Pybus (Kings College London) and Julia Velkova (University of Helsinki)