Twitter changes TOS;might hurt researchers

March 7th, 2011

ReadWriteWeb reports that Twitter recently made changes in its Terms of Service. Specifically, Twitter will no longer grant any more requests for whitelisting and it would no longer allow redistribution of its content either for commercial or non-commercial purposes. Twitter whitelisting was a way of allowing developers or researchers to access large quantities of data via the REST api. Although Twitter will honor already “whitelisted developers”, it will not grant any further requests.

The second change in the Terms of Service is with respect to redistribution of content.  This means any one who is gathering twitter data whether a developer or researcher can no longer share it with others even if it is for academic or non-commercial purposes. As ReadWriteWeb points out these changes will most likely hurt researchers who are dependent on third party organizations to provide data for their research.

As part of the new Twitter terms of service, 140kit like other organizations can no longer offer exports of Twitter data for any purposes – whether that’s for profit or non-profit, whether that’s for developers or scholars. You could be writing the next killer app. Or you could be working on the final chapter of your PhD dissertation. (And let me interject right here and say that having your access to research data shut down as a PhD student is beyond devastating.) It doesn’t matter. Exporting Tweets now violates the TOS.

It looks like Twitter just made it difficult for researchers to access data for their research.

ISWC 2008 social network

September 29th, 2008

Attending conferences is very much of a social activity. They provide opportunities to meet and interact with a large group of people that share an interest in a topic. More over, you probably know or at least know of, many of them. One reason to attend conferences is to extend and strengthen your professional social network through these interactions and shared experiences.

We’ve set up a ISWC 2008 social networking site for participants of the Seventh International Semantic Web Conference. Conference attendees can register for free and use the site to connect with other participants, coordinate meeting plans, share comments on events and talks, figure out who is who at the conference, etc.

We are using CrowdVine for this site. Our package allows us to define a calendar where we can list talks and other events, which we’ve only just begun populating. Users can rate, comment on or discuss these calendar items.

If you plan on attending ISWC 2008, please check it out and register.

Tufekci on the new social physics

June 6th, 2008

Zeynep Tufekci gave a very interesting talk on “A Different Kind of Social Physics: Online Communities and the Revolution in the Architecture of Our Social Spaces” at the JHU Applied Physics Lab last week.

Dr. Tufekci is an assistant professor in UMBC’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology and has interests in the social impacts of technology and social computing. What is somewhat unusual for a Sociologist, I assume, is that her undergraduate degree is in computer science and she worked as a programmer before getting her PhD in Sociology.

Her talk made some very interesting points about how the new environments created by social computing systems differ from the ones we have evolved to adapt to.

“Everyday, tens of millions of people chat, text, email, poke, twitter, IM and facebook (and, yes, that is a verb). They do what people have always done: they make friends and mark enemies, they assert and seek status, they look for affirmation and for connection, they check out the competition and, above all, they seek the comfort of community. Contrary to earlier predictions, people do not undertake revolutionary, unheard of acts just because the medium is new. In fact, the rise of social computing is hardly surprising to social scientists: we know this is what people do. The significance of this development lies from not the acts themselves but in the characteristics of the environment.
      The social physics of online communities are starkly different than those of the offline world — and that has far-reaching consequences. A different type of optics, audience, persistence, traversability and other structural attributes combine to create a different kind of social architecture. However, all evidence so far shows that most people bring to this new medium the cultural vocabulary of the regular, offline world (and, indeed, what else could they do?). This talk will explore the potential consequences of millions of mundane acts performed in a new kind of medium, as well as research opportunities presented by this revolution in the shape of our sociality.”

She was able to illustrate her points with examples gathered from the students in her classes about how their social lives are lived out through systems like Facebook.

Zeynep’s presentation slides are available.

Phoenix twittering from Mars

May 31st, 2008

MarsPhoenix is twittering from the North polar region of Mars.

Here’s a great picture of my deployed arm with the scoop on the end: I can’t wait to dig in the dirt next week. 10:14 PM May 29, 2008 from web

Phoenix is even carrying on conversations with some of its more than 10,000 followers.

@infoholic Yup, I can dig into frozen ground as hard as concrete. The scoop has special blades and a powered “rasp” to scrape ice. Cool! 11:09 PM May 29, 2008 from web in reply to infoholic

My first thought was that I wouldn’t want to be there when NASA gets the cell phone bill for little Phoenix. But then I read the story in the NYT, Phoenix to Earthlings: I’ve Landed! Awesome!, and found that,like a lot of important entities, Phoenix has people who do this for it.

“For users of Twitter, a Web microblogging service, the Phoenix Mars lander has been sending pithy news “tweets” to the cellphones and computers of interested ‘followers.’ As of late Friday, the Phoenix lander had 9,636 followers at Twitter, more than triple the number of a week earlier. According to, it ranks No. 30 among all Twitter feeds in the solar system.

Of course, the messages are not coming from Mars. Instead, Veronica McGregor, the news services manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., has been playing the part of Phoenix each night after she gets home from work, forwarding questions to the science team and then posting answers.”

New API to make the New York Times programmable

May 26th, 2008

A post on, New York Times Joining the Social Networking Fray, says that the New York Times will release an API that “will allow users to ‘mash-up’ the NYT’s data — think layers on Google Maps.” The post quotes Aron Pilhofer, editor of interactive news, as saying that their goal is to “make the NYT programmable. Everything we produce should be organized data.”

This is good news. The newspaper business continues to lay off staff and offer buyouts as they predict declining revenues. These are talented and trained reporters, photo journalists and editors who do the hard work of discovering and writing the news. What they do can not be, and should not be, crowdsourced. The Times has the resources and experience to do this right. If they can show how to make up for some of the losses with innovations in their online presence, it will help the entire newspaper business by showing a way forward.

(Spotted on ReadWriteWeb)

The Psychology of Social Networking on KQED Forum show

May 16th, 2008

Akshay Java pointed out an interesting radio program, Psychology of Social Networking, that’s available online for streaming or download.

“Psychologists have long studied social networks, and the growing popularity of sites like MySpace and Facebook provide fertile territory for research. Stanford University even has a class called “Psychology of Facebook.” What do our online profiles say about us?”

The hour long segment was originally broadcast on May 12 on the KQED Forum program. Host Michael Krasny interviewed two guests:

It’s a good show that explores why social networking sites gave become ubiquitous and popular, ow they work, and why they work.

Students: brand yourself with a blog

May 6th, 2008

ACM’s TechCareers site offers “career-related resources, news and job postings for IT and engineering professions”. They recommend that IT professionals and those seeking to become one, should try Branding Yourself With A Blog.

“… Certainly personal branding isn’t a new concept, but the future of personal branding could be in at your fingertips—with a blog. One of the first steps in creating a brand for yourself is to make your blog visible. Post meaningful entries, comment on your industry’s top blogs, or simply gain a regular readership. “Visibility creates opportunities,” says Schawbel, a social media specialist at EMC Corporation. He believes that when you brand yourself, the competition becomes irrelevant. “The goal of personal branding is to be recruited based on your brand, not applying for jobs,” Schawbel says. …”

This is especially good advice for students.

Social Data on the Web workshop at ISWC 2008

May 6th, 2008

This year’s International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC 2008) will host a workshop on Social Data on the Web. Submitted papers are due by July 25, 2008.

“The 1st Social Data on the Web workshop (SDoW2008) co-located with the 7th International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC2008) aims to bring together researchers, developers and practitioners involved in semantically-enhancing social media websites, as well as academics researching more formal aspect of these interactions between the Semantic Web and Social Media.”

Social media systems is all about information sharing, so its inevitable that it will have strong ties to Semantic Web technologies. Moreover, the ties will go both ways. Social media needs ways to annotate information objects with sharable data and meta data that can be understood by machines. Semantic computing systems focused on sharing data and ontologies can benefit from social computing systems that offer users easy ways to collaboratively develop, publish, comment on and link to their output.