Linking Cyber and Physical Spaces

We have just published a new paper in  Computers, Environment and Urban Systems entitled “Linking Cyber and Physical Spaces Through Community Detection And Clustering in Social Media Feeds“. In the paper we explore how geosocial media is providing us with  a new social communication avenue and a novel source of geosocial information. 
In particular, we discuss the notion of physical presence within social media and its importance for exploring the relation between the cyber and the physical domains. We discuss how communities and groups can be detected in both the cyber and physical space, and how they can be processed to form a ‘hybrid’ geosocial view of communities using social network analysis, community detection (the Louvain method) and DenStream. To showcase these concepts and their benefits, we present the analysis of two case studies that make use of Twitter data associated with two different types of events: a planned activity during the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) Day of Action (November 17th, 2011), and the response to the Boston Marathon Bombing (April 15, 2013). We conclude with a summary and outlook. Below is the abstract of the paper:

Over the last decade we have witnessed a significant growth in the use of social media. Interactions within their context lead to the establishment of groups that function at the intersection of the physical and cyber spaces, and as such represent hybrid communities. Gaining a better understanding of how information flows in these hybrid communities is a substantial scientific challenge with significant implications on our ability to better harness crowd-contributed content. This paper addresses this challenge by studying how information propagates and evolves over time at the intersection of the physical and cyber spaces. By analyzing the spatial footprint, social network structure, and content in both physical and cyber spaces we advance our understanding of the information propagation mechanisms in social media. The utility of this approach is demonstrated in two real-world case studies, the first reflecting a planned event (the Occupy Wall Street – OWS – movement’s Day of Action in November 2011), and the second reflecting an unexpected disaster (the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013). Our findings highlight the intricate nature of the propagation and evolution of information both within and across cyber and physical spaces, as well as the role of hybrid networks in the exchange of information between these spaces.

Research highlights include:

    • Our analysis includes two major events as captured in Twitter.
    • The themes in cyber and physical communities tend to converge over time.
    • Messages among physical space users are more consistent at the onset of the event.
    • Geolocated users are consuming information more than they produce.

      Below are some of the images from the paper. Specifically the first image is how one can think of the relationships between physical and cyber spaces.  The next image provides an overview Our geosocial analysis framework for examining cyber and physical communities.

      Our Geosocial analysis framework

      In the figure below we show an example of using DenStream for spatiotemporal clustering and how the process can capture the protest activities that were planned for the Occupy Wall Street movement’s Day of Action. Each dot corresponds to the originating location of a geolocated tweet; The color of each point indicates the time of the corresponding tweet, ranging from dark blue (early morning, 0) to dark red (late night, 1). While the circles represent a specific spatiotemporal cluster. For example the circle labeled A marked the start of the day where people congregated around Wall Street while circle labeled C shows a cluster at Foley Square.
      Physical space groups identified in the lower Manhattan area. Each dot corresponds to the originating location of a geolocated tweet; The color of each point indicates the time of the corresponding tweet, ranging from dark blue (early morning, 0) to dark red (late night, 1).
      While in the figure below we show one example of linking the cyber and physical communities. Specifically in (a), the top five communities (node degree > 100) in the cyber space retweet network (each community is designated by one color) are shown; (b) shows the physical space groups; and (c) shows the resulting  hybrid meta-network where the connections between physical groups (P nodes), and cyber space communities (C nodes) are shown.

      We hope you enjoy the paper.

      Full Reference:

      Croitoru, A., Wayant, N., Crooks, A.T., Radzikowski, J. and Stefanidis, A. (2014), Linking Cyber and Physical Spaces Through Community Detection And Clustering in Social Media Feeds, Computers, Environment and Urban Systemsdoi:10.1016/j.compenvurbsys.2014.11.002

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      IR: State-Driven and Citizen-Driven Networks

      Our work exploring how social media can be used to study events around the world has resulted in a new publication in the  Social Science Computer Review entitled “International Relations: State-Driven and Citizen-Driven Networks.” In essence what we are attempting to do is compare traditional international relations (e.g. from the United Nations General Assembly voting patterns) to those arising from the bottom up interactions (i.e from people on the ground). The abstract of the paper is below along with some of the images that accompany the paper.

      The international community can be viewed as a set of networks, manifested through various transnational activities. The availability of longitudinal datasets such as international arms trades and United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) allows for the study of state-driven interactions over time. In parallel to this top-down approach, the recent emergence of social media is fostering a bottom-up and citizen driven avenue for international relations (IR). The comparison of these two network types offers a new lens to study the alignment between states and their people. This paper presents a network-driven approach to analyze communities as they are established through different forms of bottom-up (e.g. Twitter) and top-down (e.g. UNGA voting records and international arms trade records) IR. By constructing and comparing different network communities we were able to evaluate the similarities between state-driven and citizen-driven networks. In order to validate our approach we identified communities in UNGA voting records during and after the Cold War. Our approach showed that the similarity between UNGA communities during and after the Cold War was 0.55 and 0.81 respectively (in a 0-1 scale). To explore the state- versus citizen-driven interactions we focused on the recent events within Syria within Twitter over a sample period of one month. The analysis of these data show a clear misalignment (0.25) between citizen-formed international networks and the ones established by the Syrian government (e.g. through its UNGA voting patterns).

      Full reference:

      Crooks, A.T., Masad, D., Croitoru, A., Cotnoir, A., Stefanidis, A. and Radzikowski, J. (2013), International Relations: State-Driven and Citizen-Driven Networks, Social Science Computer Review. DOI:10.1177/0894439313506851

      If you don’t have access to Social Science Computer Review, send us an email and we can send you an early version of the paper. This is also only part of our work on using multiple networks to explore international relations. One can of course also explore the networks in more detail. For example in the figure below we plot the actual transfer of arms between states during the 2001 and 2011 period. One can clearly see how different states are connected with Syria however, Russia has connections to many states.

      Arms transfers
      Or if we explore Twitter hastags and add an edge between any pair of hashtags when they are used in the same tweet we can explore an emergent ontology of topic labels users associate with each other. For example, the #Allepo hashtag is associated with other hashtags which appear to local events, including “#civilian”, “#airstrike”, “#hunger”, “#pictures”, many of which are only connected to the #Aleppo hashtag as shown below.

      Continue reading »

      IR: State-Driven and Citizen-Driven Networks

      Our work exploring how social media can be used to study events around the world has resulted in a new publication in the  Social Science Computer Review entitled “International Relations: State-Driven and Citizen-Driven Networks.” In essence what we are attempting to do is compare traditional international relations (e.g. from the United Nations General Assembly voting patterns) to those arising from the bottom up interactions (i.e from people on the ground). The abstract of the paper is below along with some of the images that accompany the paper.

      The international community can be viewed as a set of networks, manifested through various transnational activities. The availability of longitudinal datasets such as international arms trades and United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) allows for the study of state-driven interactions over time. In parallel to this top-down approach, the recent emergence of social media is fostering a bottom-up and citizen driven avenue for international relations (IR). The comparison of these two network types offers a new lens to study the alignment between states and their people. This paper presents a network-driven approach to analyze communities as they are established through different forms of bottom-up (e.g. Twitter) and top-down (e.g. UNGA voting records and international arms trade records) IR. By constructing and comparing different network communities we were able to evaluate the similarities between state-driven and citizen-driven networks. In order to validate our approach we identified communities in UNGA voting records during and after the Cold War. Our approach showed that the similarity between UNGA communities during and after the Cold War was 0.55 and 0.81 respectively (in a 0-1 scale). To explore the state- versus citizen-driven interactions we focused on the recent events within Syria within Twitter over a sample period of one month. The analysis of these data show a clear misalignment (0.25) between citizen-formed international networks and the ones established by the Syrian government (e.g. through its UNGA voting patterns).

      Full reference:

      Crooks, A.T., Masad, D., Croitoru, A., Cotnoir, A., Stefanidis, A. and Radzikowski, J. (2013), International Relations: State-Driven and Citizen-Driven Networks, Social Science Computer Review. DOI:10.1177/0894439313506851

      If you don’t have access to Social Science Computer Review, send us an email and we can send you an early version of the paper. This is also only part of our work on using multiple networks to explore international relations. One can of course also explore the networks in more detail. For example in the figure below we plot the actual transfer of arms between states during the 2001 and 2011 period. One can clearly see how different states are connected with Syria however, Russia has connections to many states.

      Arms transfers
      Or if we explore Twitter hastags and add an edge between any pair of hashtags when they are used in the same tweet we can explore an emergent ontology of topic labels users associate with each other. For example, the #Allepo hashtag is associated with other hashtags which appear to local events, including “#civilian”, “#airstrike”, “#hunger”, “#pictures”, many of which are only connected to the #Aleppo hashtag as shown below.

      Continue reading »

      Geosocial Gauge Paper

      As regular readers of the blog know, we have been spending a lot of time recently looking at social media and the growth in locational information within such media. To this end we are very happy to see one of our papers appear in the International Journal of Geographical Information Science. The paper is entitled “GeoSocial Gauge: A System Prototype for Knowledge Discovery from Social Media” which in essence discusses the challenge of merging diverse social media datasets into a single database which can then be used to generate geosocial knowledge. Below is the abstract:

      “The remarkable success of online social media sites marks a shift in the way people connect and share information. Much of this information now contains some form of geographical content because of the proliferation of location-aware devices, thus fostering the emergence of geosocial media – a new type of user-generated geospatial information. Through geosocial media we are able, for the first time, to observe human activities in scales and resolutions that were so far unavailable. Furthermore, the wide spectrum of social media data and service types provides a multitude of perspectives on real-world activities and happenings, thus opening new frontiers in geosocial knowledge discovery. However, gleaning knowledge from geosocial media is a challenging task, as they tend to be unstructured and thematically diverse. To address these challenges, this article presents a system prototype for harvesting, processing, modeling, and integrating heterogeneous social media feeds towards the generation of geosocial knowledge. Our article addresses primarily two key components of this system prototype: a novel data model for heterogeneous social media feeds and a corresponding general system architecture. We present these key components and demonstrate their implementation in our system prototype, GeoSocial Gauge.”

      Full reference:

      Croitoru, A., Crooks, A.T., Radzikowski, J. and Stefanidis, A. (in press), GeoSocial Gauge: A System Prototype for Knowledge Discovery from Social Media, International Journal of Geographical Information Science. DOI: 10.1080/13658816.2013.825724

      If you don’t have access to IGIS, send us an email and we can send you an early version of the paper.

      Continue reading »

      Geosocial Gauge Paper

      As regular readers of the blog know, we have been spending a lot of time recently looking at social media and the growth in locational information within such media. To this end we are very happy to see one of our papers appear in the International Journal of Geographical Information Science. The paper is entitled “GeoSocial Gauge: A System Prototype for Knowledge Discovery from Social Media” which in essence discusses the challenge of merging diverse social media datasets into a single database which can then be used to generate geosocial knowledge. Below is the abstract:

      “The remarkable success of online social media sites marks a shift in the way people connect and share information. Much of this information now contains some form of geographical content because of the proliferation of location-aware devices, thus fostering the emergence of geosocial media – a new type of user-generated geospatial information. Through geosocial media we are able, for the first time, to observe human activities in scales and resolutions that were so far unavailable. Furthermore, the wide spectrum of social media data and service types provides a multitude of perspectives on real-world activities and happenings, thus opening new frontiers in geosocial knowledge discovery. However, gleaning knowledge from geosocial media is a challenging task, as they tend to be unstructured and thematically diverse. To address these challenges, this article presents a system prototype for harvesting, processing, modeling, and integrating heterogeneous social media feeds towards the generation of geosocial knowledge. Our article addresses primarily two key components of this system prototype: a novel data model for heterogeneous social media feeds and a corresponding general system architecture. We present these key components and demonstrate their implementation in our system prototype, GeoSocial Gauge.”

      Full reference:

      Croitoru, A., Crooks, A.T., Radzikowski, J. and Stefanidis, A. (in press), GeoSocial Gauge: A System Prototype for Knowledge Discovery from Social Media, International Journal of Geographical Information Science. DOI: 10.1080/13658816.2013.825724

      If you don’t have access to IGIS, send us an email and we can send you an early version of the paper.

      Continue reading »

      GeoSocial Gauge

      Over the last couple of months we have been working on getting our GeoSocial Gauge system up and running. The idea behind the website is to bring together social media and geographical analysis to monitor and explore people’s views, reactions, and interactions through space and time. It takes advantage of the emergence of social media to observe the human landscape as the living, breathing organism that it is: we can witness the explosion-like dissemination of information within a society, or the clusters of individuals who share common opinions or attitudes, and map the locations of these clusters. This is an unprecedented development that broadens drastically our understanding of the way that people act, react to events, and interact with each other and with their environment. We refer to this novel approach to study the integration of geography and society as GeoSocial Analysis.
      The GeoSocial Gauge has several live streams ranging from exploring the political issues (e.g. Sequester) to to see what people are tweeting about TV (The Walking Dead).

      Screen shot of GeoSocial Gauge of the Sequester. Showing the location of tweets, the most frequent words and whether or not the messages are positive (green) or negative (red).
      Screen shot of GeoSocial Gauge of The Walking Dead.

      Some of our initial work on this type of analyis can be found at:

      • Stefanidis, T., Crooks, A.T. and Radzikowski, J. (2013), Harvesting Ambient Geospatial Information from Social Media Feeds, GeoJournal, 78, (2): 319-338.
      • Crooks, A.T., Croitoru, A., Stefanidis, A. and Radzikowski, J. (2013), #Earthquake: Twitter as a Distributed Sensor System, Transactions in GIS, 17(1): 124-147.

      Continue reading »

      GeoSocial Gauge

      Over the last couple of months we have been working on getting our GeoSocial Gauge system up and running. The idea behind the website is to bring together social media and geographical analysis to monitor and explore people’s views, reactions, and interactions through space and time. It takes advantage of the emergence of social media to observe the human landscape as the living, breathing organism that it is: we can witness the explosion-like dissemination of information within a society, or the clusters of individuals who share common opinions or attitudes, and map the locations of these clusters. This is an unprecedented development that broadens drastically our understanding of the way that people act, react to events, and interact with each other and with their environment. We refer to this novel approach to study the integration of geography and society as GeoSocial Analysis.
      The GeoSocial Gauge has several live streams ranging from exploring the political issues (e.g. Sequester) to to see what people are tweeting about TV (The Walking Dead).

      Screen shot of GeoSocial Gauge of the Sequester. Showing the location of tweets, the most frequent words and whether or not the messages are positive (green) or negative (red).
      Screen shot of GeoSocial Gauge of The Walking Dead.

      Some of our initial work on this type of analyis can be found at:

      • Stefanidis, T., Crooks, A.T. and Radzikowski, J. (2013), Harvesting Ambient Geospatial Information from Social Media Feeds, GeoJournal, 78, (2): 319-338.
      • Crooks, A.T., Croitoru, A., Stefanidis, A. and Radzikowski, J. (2013), #Earthquake: Twitter as a Distributed Sensor System, Transactions in GIS, 17(1): 124-147.

      Continue reading »
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