Computer Laboratory

Diarmuid Ó Séaghdha

Reading Tweeting Minds: Real-time Analysis of Short Text for Computational Social Science


Zhe Wang, Daniele Quercia and Diarmuid Ó Séaghdha

Twitter status updates (tweets) have great potential for unobtrusive analysis of users' perceptions in real time, providing a way of investigating social patterns at scale. Here we present a tool that performs textual analysis of tweets mentioning a topic of interest and outputs words statistically associated with it in the form of word lists and word graphs. Such a tool could be of value for helping social scientists to navigate the overwhelming amounts of data that are produced on Twitter. To evaluate our tool, we select three concepts of interest to social scientists (i.e., privacy, serendipity, and Occupy Wall Street), build ground truths for each concept using the Grounded Theory approach, and perform a quantitative assessment based on two widely-used information retrieval metrics. To then offer qualitative assessments complementary to the quantitative ones, we run a user study involving 32 individuals. We find that simple information-theoretic association measures are more accurate than frequency-based measures. We also spell out under which conditions these metrics tend to work best.

  author = 	 {Zhe Wang and Daniele Quercia and Diarmuid {\'O S\'eaghdha}},
  title = 	 {Reading Tweeting Minds: Real-time Analysis of Short Text for Computational Social Science},
  booktitle = 	 {Proceedings of the 24th ACM Conference on Hypertext and Social Media (HyperText 2013)},
  year =	 2013,
  address =	 {Paris, France}