Twitter and M.I.T. have teamed up to launch the Laboratory for Social Machines to analyze the impact of social media messages on society. Larry Greenemeier reports
Tapping the Twitterverse for Meaning
Using social media is easy. Understanding all aspects of social media is a whole lot harder. For example, Twitter has become important for publishing and aggregating breaking news on the ground from around the world. The Arab Spring a few years ago was probably the best example of this capacity.
Twitter’s influence is why the social media site is teaming with the M.I.T. Media Lab to create the M.I.T. Laboratory for Social Machines. Its mission: to find new ways of extracting meaningful semantic and social patterns from Twitter’s daily flood of selfies, rants and observations, both significant and insipid.
The new lab will not just analyze Twitter—other social and mass media are fair game too. Twitter will be front and center, though. They’re making a five-year, $10-million commitment to the effort and providing researchers with access to its full stream of new and archived tweets, dating back to the very first tweet, Jack Dorsey’s 24-character message in 2006. And each day brings another 500 million freshly minted messages.
So, let’s hope that, in addition to studying how we communicate in shorthand, the lab looks at how to keep valuable info on Twitter from being lost within the digital inundation.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]