Tag Archives: research

Symposium: Student Research at the Graduate Show 2016

Our final year students will present their Dissertation projects at the Graduate Show 2016. Before the private view, we will gather for lively presentations and discussion of students’ research projects, what they found, and how they can communicate their findings.

The symposium takes place in seminar room 2014, from 4pm on Wednesday 15 June, followed by the private view of the Graduate Show, featuring the work of students in the Dept. of Creative Professions and DIgital Arts, and the Dept. of Architecture & Landscape. Refreshments will be available.

Please register attendance on our Eventbrite page (it’s free!).

Tools for Twitter archiving and analysis

What if I want to do a bit of social media listening, and I don’t have access to a fancy subscription-based analytics service, I don’t know how to code (e.g., in Python), or my computer is very basic? Take courage. There are tools for lo-fi social media research that require nothing more than a browser.
This is not about having fancy hardware. All but one of the recommendations here would work on a Chromebook laptop (but not a tablet or smartphone). They are presented in order of increasing difficulty to learn and use:
First, to investigate Twitter topics, keywords and trends, twXplorer is a very simple tool. It requires Twitter authorisation, so not much setup. The feature I like the most is the filtering it offers (by terms, hashtags and links), allowing you to drill down into a topic quickly. It’s a great tool for trying out searches to see what’s there.
Then, once you have your search terms ready, you can move on to something a bit more feature-rich: Netlytic is a cloud-based text and social networks analyser that requires no installation. When you register, you get a free basic account, but you can apply to get free student account with more datasets and queries allowed. You can set it up to query the Twitter API at set intervals to gather tweets over time. Netlytic also works with Instagram (location- and hashtag queries), YouTube, Facebook Groups and more.
Twitter Archiver is a Chrome add-on which links with Google Sheets to download tweets from a keyword search or hashtag at set intervals. There is a short video introduction here.
Blockspring is a service that allows you to query APIs, including Twitter, from your spreadsheet (either Excel or Google Sheets). This requires installing an extension in Google Sheets or Excel to enable you to pull down “live” data from web sources. The most immediately useful blockspring service for this purpose is the Twitter one, but Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram queries are also possible.
NodeXL Basic (paid version: NodeXL Pro) is an Excel extension that will load the results of a Twitter search (and searches from other social networking sites) into a familiar Excel spreadsheet environment for analysis. This only works under Windows, with MS Office installed. Because it works within Excel, NodeXL requires a good grasp of spreadsheets, and it will take you some time to get to grips with how to turn the intimidating table of raw data into a pretty network visualization or other analysis. Not surprisingly, it’s also the most powerful tool on this list.
Of course, these tools may be simple and browser-based, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to learn them yourself. You will have to play around with them, try things out, and definitely watch some instructional videos.
(Image: Conference tweet network for #drha2015, created in NodeXL)

Communication Asset Mapping with students

I love a good map, especially when the map tells me something that I didn’t know before. This is why we have for some time incorporated spatial methods in teaching communications research at Greenwich. With the help of students on the BA Media & Communications, I’ve put together a slide deck explaining how we have used communication asset mapping as a method for investigating the neighbourhood around the campus.

Slides: Communication Asset Mapping in Practice

One of the fundamental insights of media theory is that media shape space (the light bulb is the classic example of this, as Marshall McLuhan argues). More specifically, communications scholars are interested in questions of how people experience and interact in space – neighbourhoods, urban areas, or even individual streets. This is where digital technologies come in. Mapmaking has become a lot more accessible to non-experts in cartography in recent years. Tools like Google Maps, Mapbox and CartoDB make it possible to add layers of data on to maps of the world, down to a very fine level of detail. We can document and visualise our environment (and share those visualisations) using cheap or free tools online

So, this is why our students can sometimes be found walking around the public spaces of Greenwich, taking notes and pictures. The inspiration for this comes from the MetaConnects group at the Annenberg School for Communication (University of Southern California) whose work aims to link research and practice through the study of communities, diversity and communication technologies. Importantly, they have created a very useful research toolkit, shared online. We’ve borrowed some of their concepts and methods, and put them to use on the streets of Greenwich.

Here’s a link to the map we made, and here are some slides documenting the process. Enjoy!

Creative Conversations – events, research, collaborations

The Creative Conversations project aims to bring together academics, practitioners and students in the creative industries. It’s a collaboration between staff from across the Department of Creative Professions and Digital Arts. Events and research themes this year include ‘the new space of publishing’, the local creative businesses and organisations of Greenwich and SE London, and the relationship between markets and communities (Making London). Media and communication students have contributed to events and even some of the research that is coming out of the project.

Read more on the Creative Conversations blog.

The Easter Break Reading List

Term ends this week, and students in Research Methods are getting ready for the break. I asked everyone to name one book they are planning to read over the break, for their various projects. I added one as well.

It makes for an interesting, combined snapshot of what we’re up to right now. Here’s the list, in the order in which seminar participants added to it:

Shirky, Clay. Cognitive Surplus
Foucault, Michel. Foucault Live 1961-1984
Arendt, Hannah. Vita activa [in German].
Barnier, Amanda. From Individual to Collective Memory
Darnton & Roche, Revolution in Print
Sturken and Cartwright, eds. Practices of Looking
Kelly, Ian. Beau Brummel
Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture
Veltman, Kim H. Understanding New Media: Augmented Knowledge & Culture
Davis, Lennard J. The Disability Studies Reader, 2nd ed.
Mc Naughton, M.J. “Guerrilla Communication, Visual Consumption & Consumer Public Relations.” Public Relations Review 34, 3, Sep 2008: 303-305. [Clearly not the only item on this particular student’s reading list]
Foucault, Michel. The Order of Things
Anderson, Chris. The Longer Lone Tail
Gregg and Seigworth, eds. The Affect Theory Reader.
Don’t try to read them all at once, over three weeks.

TechHub Visit

Our Media Work seminar group visited TechHub in Old Street this week. After a tour of the shared work area, the co-founders Elizabeth Varley and Mike Butcher very generously spent some time with us answering our questions about what they’ve been doing and what their plans are for the development of TechHub as a space for innovative technology startups to launch from.

They both reminded us that TechHub hosts events (see their Eventbrite page) and is easy to keep up with via the the @TechHub Twitter feed.

Greenwich Lecturer at Kinetica Art Fair

Ian Thompson, our professional media practice lecturer, is participating in this week’s Kinetica Art Fair at the University of Westminster. His sound design company 3D60 have collaborated with musicians Holotronica to create a 3-dimensional soundtrack for a 3D video piece titled Sentinel.

This is part of ongoing research and development into potential applications of 3-dimensional sound production.

Visual research and discourse research

workspace-3.JPGIt was the seminar of pretty pictures.

In Research Methods yesterday we covered the two essays in the “Texts and Pictures” section of Pickering, ed. Research Methods in Cultural Studies (2008): “Analysing Visual Experience” by Sarah Pink and “Analysing Discourse” by Martin Barker.

The two journal articles I used as examples are Grayson Cooke, “De-interfacement” (2010) and Niloofar Niknam, “Hidden Media” (2010) (sign in via the University Student Portal to access the full text).

In our discussion of data visualization, images and the relationship between the analysis of data and discourse analysis we looked at the Guardian Datablog, the Information is Beautiful blog and book, Wordle word clouds created online, and screenshots from the new game Chromaroma, developed by Mudlark, which uses individuals’ Oyster card travel data for gameplay (see article here).

The photo is from one of my own forays into visual research, a blog post on slack space I wrote this spring.

Producers and Consumers

Here’s the diagram that emerged in our seminar discussion on Wednesday around the two articles, “Researching Cultural Producers” and “Researching Cultural Consumers” (both in Pickering, ed. Research Methods in Cultural Studies).

(Thanks to Dharana for the image)

This is not a summary of the two chapters, of course. There are many ways to “map” the approaches and key concepts that Aeron Davis and Anneke Meyer discuss. This is probably most useful for you just to recall the points we made in the seminar discussion.