DIGITAL AMERICA

SocialFlow

// Posted by on 03/24/2013 (8:36 PM)

The MIT technology review published this article on November 9, 2011 (right around the climax of the Occupy movement) brilliantly mapping out how the OWS movement used Twitter to their advantage. While TV cameras and newspapers have chronicled the so-called Occupy Wall Street protest movement as it has grown into a global phenomenon, there had not really been a good way to document how it “looks” online? Thanks to a start-up called Social Flow, and tons of Twitter data, the public can literally see, on a map, how the idea propagated through influential people and organizations, and across previously invisible conduits to permeate vast expanses of Twitter’s network.” According to the Social Flow website, the product allows you to “see real time conversation flow on Twitter and Facebook to capture peak audience attention for your messages.” Though the website markets the app as a booster of ROI (return on income) for businesses, it was used to create social “maps” of twitter data relating to OWS and the #occupywallstreet hashtag, examples of which are shown below.

MIT tells us that the first ever use of the #OccupyWallStreet hashtag was in an Adbusters blog post, way back on July 13, according to Gilad Lotan, SocialFlow’s head of research and development. (AdBusters, by the way, is the Canadian “mother” organization to OWS-learn about it here). Here’s an example of a “map” created 10 days after the first #OccupyWallStreet hashtag was used:

As you can see, the network of tweeters using#OccupyWallStreet was small and sparse in the beginning, with no major media entities yet participating in the conversation. The larger and lighter the node, the more retweets it generated.

The above map shows the #OccupyWallStreet hashtags all over the “twitterverse” on October 13, the day NYPD planned to clean up Zuccotti Park, the original site of the protest. As you can see, entities like @HuffingtonPost and individuals like @KeithOlbermann were among the influential participants. According to researchers like Lotan, “To optimize the way that your message spreads, you really have to understand who is following you, and who tends to give you attention.” SocialFlow does just that, and will prove to be a valuable resource to future movements.


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Comments:


Vicky said...

Interesting article Sam. I think that SocialFlow, although I find it a little confusing, can help those organizing messages or movements by letting them know how much attention in the digital world they are receiving. But I don’t think social flow does much to promote or gain support…so is it really that important? I think I see this as more of an advantage for big corporations such as Pepsi, like the MIT article notes, because it allows them to analyze how and if it reaches their target audiences. But I suppose it can be used by activist groups I’m just not so sure how and if OWS used SocialFlow to help them.

// 03/25/2013 at 2:35 pm

Celia said...

I love the use of maps here! This shows just one way that geography and maps have infiltrated society and social media, making geographic/spatial information easily accessible. I will discuss this more in my feature, but great post!

// 03/25/2013 at 6:58 pm

Patrick said...

Very interesting concept to follow the occupy movement through the amount of tweets, I would not expect twitter to be such a big influence in the movement, as I normally look more towards television and news to follow the occupy movement. Thanks for the insight!

// 03/25/2013 at 9:28 pm