In June 2013 I attended the Digital Method’s Initiative’s Summer School at the University of Amsterdam. That year’s topic was social media APIs and how their potential for social research. DMI’s goal is to think critically about the affordances and limitations of using the web and social media as object of study as well as an instrument for social research. In week one, I conducted a project on rape discourse on Twitter together with Saskia Kok, Richard Rogers and Carlo de Gaetano & Stefania Guerra from the DensityDesign team (IT). View the result (a datavisualisation) here: scatterplot-1
Issue Distance on Twitter: The 2012 rape case in Delhi, India within the # rape discourse
Research question: How far from the top of Twitter’s #rape hashtag is the Delhi rape case? OR What is the issue distance between the Delhi gang rape of December 16, 2012 and the general issue of rape on Twitter in the 3 months following the rape itself (time of legislation revisions and the trial of the offenders)?
8.491.020 tweets by 3.589.777 unique users from 2013-01-15 to 2013-06-27 containing the hashtag gangrape, rape
Using the TCAT (Twitter Capture and Analysis Toolset)
Continue reading for the results and findings
Time period for both datasets:
15.01.2013 – 15.03.2013
Retweet threshold: 20
Dataset 1: General discourse on Rape
Filter tweets by query: rape
Number of tweets: 3.191.591, Number of distinct users: 1.655.910
Dataset 2: Specific Delhi Rape
Filter anew with query: India AND rape
Number of tweets: 117.784, Number of distinct users: 46.725
Explanation of the scatterplot graph: The upper set of highlighted tweets are the top fifteen retweeted tweets in the #rape, and the lower set of highlighted tweets are the top fifteen retweeted when filtered for India and Delhi.
fragment from the top of the #rape conversation (most retweeted reached around 4000 retweets)
fragment from an issue distance: conversations about rape in India (top retweeted in the subset reached max 800 retweets
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
Characterization of the hashtag
e.g. Who uses it? Where are the users located?