Public Release: 

Extracting meaning from the social web

Clemson University


IMAGE: The University of Washington Social Media Lab team met with Clemson's Social Media Listening Center team at Clemson University to finalize project collaboration. Left to right: Shawn Walker, Jason Thatcher,... view more

Credit: Jason Thatcher, Clemson University

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Clemson's Social Media Listening Center two grants to conduct research for better collecting, analyzing, and extracting meaning from the social web.

Clemson's Social Media Listening Center allows researchers to listen, discover, measure, and engage in conversations across the Web by capturing more than 150 million sources of social media conversations, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, blogs and other online communities.

The first award, a $262,000 grant, used the 2012 election cycle as a test bed for examining and developing techniques to analyze the implications of the social web for national elections. This research developed a prototype visualization tool that captured social media posts related to selected races in the 2012 Congressional election and also allowed researchers to explore the online discourse surrounding the election.

"The election is a forum for studying changes in opinion," said Jason Thatcher, associate professor of management and faculty lead at the Social Media Listening Center at Clemson University. "We are able to visualize changes in sentiment towards candidates, issues, places, products, and topics that are relevant to both industry and academic scholarship by building an open source tool that leverages the high performance computing resources available at Clemson."

In collaboration with the University of Washington's Social Media Lab, Clemson also received a $100,000 sub-award from a $997,118 grant for a project entitled 'INSPIRE: Tools, Models, and Innovation Platforms for Research on Social Media,' led by Robert Mason, associate dean for research at the University of Washington's Social Media Lab. Clemson researchers will support the University of Washington's work by developing open source tools and models for aggregating, storing, analyzing, and visualizing a vast amount of social media data.

"The ability to examine and understand the social web is increasingly important in this age of information," said James Bottum, chief information officer at Clemson University. "Clemson's Social Media Listening Center is catalyzing research for this online discourse on campus and across the nation."

The Social Media Listening Center is an interdisciplinary research lab and teaching facility that brings together faculty, staff, students and external partners to support undergraduate creative inquiry, faculty research, education, and outreach through social media listening.

At the university, the Social Media Listening Center is a collaborative initiative between Clemson Computing and Information Technology, the Clemson University Cyber Institute, the College of Business and Behavioral Sciences and the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities.

"This interdisciplinary collaboration represents another important step towards establishing Clemson University as the epicenter of social media research in the Southeast," says Thatcher.


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