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.

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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 »

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 »

Research Update

With the semester now well underway, I have been reflecting on some of the recent work we have been doing at George Mason University. This is currently taking two strands, the first being agent-based modeling and the second being deriving information from social media. Hopefully by the end of the semester, these two strands will be merged together.
One of the models we are working on is the movement of people across national boarders. Below is a visualization of our work looking at the movment of people across the US/Mexico border which a specific focus on Arizona.
Moreover, we have continued to work diseases and refugee camps. We are scaling up the model to represent the entire population of the Dadaab refugee camps along with verifying the model and exploring the spatial characteristics of the model (i.e the spread of cholera). If anyone will be at the annual North American Meetings of the Regional Science Association International in Ottowa  Canada feel free to come and listen to our presentation. The movie directly below shows the spread of cholera in one camp, while the second movie shows how cholera can be spread throughout the camps by people becoming infected and moving between the different camps.

Some of this work has been feated in UPMagazine and Trajectory Magazine:

Metcalfe, M. (2012), The Bounds of Rationality, UP Magazine, May, Issue 5: 40-43.

Quinn, K. (2012), Visualizing the Invisible:GMU Pioneers a New Approach to Harvesting GEOINT, Trajectory Magazine, Fall, 11-12.

Continue reading »

Research Update

With the semester now well underway, I have been reflecting on some of the recent work we have been doing at George Mason University. This is currently taking two strands, the first being agent-based modeling and the second being deriving information from social media. Hopefully by the end of the semester, these two strands will be merged together.
One of the models we are working on is the movement of people across national boarders. Below is a visualization of our work looking at the movment of people across the US/Mexico border which a specific focus on Arizona.

Moreover, we have continued to work diseases and refugee camps. We are scaling up the model to represent the entire population of the Dadaab refugee camps along with verifying the model and exploring the spatial characteristics of the model (i.e the spread of cholera). If anyone will be at the annual North American Meetings of the Regional Science Association International in Ottowa  Canada feel free to come and listen to our presentation. The movie directly below shows the spread of cholera in one camp, while the second movie shows how cholera can be spread throughout the camps by people becoming infected and moving between the different camps.



Some of this work has been feated in UPMagazine and Trajectory Magazine:

Metcalfe, M. (2012), The Bounds of Rationality, UP Magazine, May, Issue 5: 40-43.

Quinn, K. (2012), Visualizing the Invisible:GMU Pioneers a New Approach to Harvesting GEOINT, Trajectory Magazine, Fall, 11-12.

Continue reading »

Harvesting ambient geospatial information from social media feeds

A paper I  recently co-authored with Anthony Stefanidis and Jacek Radzikowski from George Mason University entitled “Harvesting ambient geospatial information from social media feeds” is now available in  GeoJournal.   The abstract …

Continue reading »

Harvesting ambient geospatial information from social media feeds

A paper I  recently co-authored with Anthony Stefanidis and Jacek Radzikowski from George Mason University entitled “Harvesting ambient geospatial information from social media feeds” is now available in  GeoJournal.   The abstract …

Continue reading »