October 14 OPEN LAB

Laura Gibson, from the Annenberg School of Communication, led our discussion of “The Battle for ‘Trayvon Martin’: Mapping a Media Controversy Online and Offline.”  The authors collected a range of media with mentions of “Trayvon Martin” (and the common misspelling “Treyvon Martin”) from twitter, blogs, online media outlets, newspapers, and television in order to understand the media ecosystem around the killing. They used MIT’s Media Cloud to produce much of their evidence. We were especially interested how they created the data set and how other scholars might use their infrastructure. Laura’s research group’s is currently working with them. We discussed the promising avenues of sharing mined data — in this case, the identification of certain newspaper articles — and the  legal complications of actually gathering the text for subsequent research.  We also examined the various methods and tools the researchers used to analyze their evidence.

In the last part of the session, Molly led a fabulous Python tutorial based on Brian Vivier presentation the previous week.  We walked through object types, ways of easily creating paths for an API, and frameworks for querying and organizing imported CSVs.

Erhardt Graeff, Matt Stempeck, and Ethan Zuckerman, “The battle for ‘Trayvon Martin’: Mapping a media controversy online and off–line,” First Monday, vol. 19: 2 – 3, February 2014

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