Congratulations to Karissa McKelvey for being one of six undergraduate students at Indiana University Bloomington who have received the 2011-12 Provost’s Award for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity. A senior in the School of Informatics and Computing from Santa Rosa, Calif., Karissa is working with Filippo Menczer on the Truthy project, which analyzes and makes accessible a massive stream of data disseminated through social media. She is focusing on the design and development of an interactive Web interface to visualize and navigate the diffusion of memes on networks such as Twitter. The goal of the project is to empower researchers, journalists and ordinary citizens to visualize how information spreads online and identify critical factors of the diffusion process. Karissa recently presented her work at the 2012 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. and to conduct research that applies computational tools to fields such as political science.
In our paper on Competition among memes in a world with limited attention in Nature Scientific Reports, Lilian Weng and coauthors Sandro Flammini, Alex Vespignani, and Fil Menczer report that we can explain the massive heterogeneity in the popularity and persistence of memes as deriving from a combination of the competition for our limited attention and the structure of the social network, without the need to assume different intrinsic values among ideas. The findings have been mentioned in the popular press, including Information Week, The Atlantic, and the Dutch daily NRC.
Prof. Flammini (PI) and Menczer have been awarded a three-year, $2M grant from DARPA in the context of the Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC) program, whose primary goal is “to develop a new science of social networks built on an emerging technology base,” Our IU unit leads a three-group team that includes collaborators at Lockheed-Martin Advanced Technology Lab and the University of Michigan. The funded project is aimed at designing and implementing a system to detect online persuasion campaigns.
Google committed to a yearly gift of $700 to CNetS to support our Espresso Club. This will allow us to heavily subsidize the cost of coffee for our grad students, furthering the club’s mission to transform caffeine into science. Our thanks to Google!
We’re pleased to report several exciting developments in our interdisciplinary project studying information diffusion in complex online social networks. The past year has resulted in several publications. Our results on the Truthy astroturf monitoring and detection system were presented at WWW 2011 and ICWSM 2011. Research into the polarized network structure of political communication on Twitter was presented at ICWSM and received the 2011 CITASA Best Student Paper Honorable Mention. We demonstrated the feasibility of the prediction of individuals’ political affiliation from network and text data (SocialCom 2011), a machine learning application that enables large-scale instrumentation of nearly 20,000 individuals’ political behaviors, policy foci, and geospatial distribution (Journal of Information Technology and Politics). We’re also working on a paper on partisan asymmetries in online political activity surrounding the 2010 U.S. congressional midterm elections.
Our results have been widely covered in the press, including the Wall Street Journal, Science, Communications of the ACM, NPR [1,2], The Chronicle of Higher Education, Discover Magazine, The Atlantic, New Scientist, MIT Technology Review, and many more.
Current and future research is supported by an award from the NSF Interface between Computer Science and Economics & Social Sciences program, and a McDonnell Foundation grant. The former will focus on building an infrastructure for the study of information diffusion in social media, the characterization of meme spread patterns, and the development of sentiment analysis tools for social media. The latter will focus on modeling efforts, especially agent-based models of information diffusion, competition for attention, and the relationship between information sharing events and social network evolution.
The Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research has an open postdoctoral position to study how ideas propagate through complex online social networks. The position is funded by a McDonnell Foundation’s grant in Complex Systems. The appointment starts in January 2012 for one year and is renewable for up to 3 additional years. The salary is competitive and benefits are generous.
The postdoc will join a dynamic and interdisciplinary team that includes computer, physical, and cognitive scientists. The postdoc will work with PIs Filippo Menczer and Alessandro Flammini and several PhD students on analysis and modeling of social media data. Areas of focus will include information diffusion patterns, epidemic models for the spread of ideas, interactions between network traffic and structure dynamics, and agent-based models to explain the emergence of viral bursts of attention. Domains of study will include politics, scientific knowledge, and world events. Go to the grant page or project page for further details on the team and project.
The ideal candidate will have a PhD in computing or physical sciences; a strong background in analysis and modeling of complex systems and networks; and solid programming skills necessary to handle big data and develop large scale simulations.
To apply, email/send a CV and names and emails of three references to Tara Holbrook. Applications received by Oct. 24, 2011 will be given full consideration, but the position will remain open until a successful candidate is identified.
Indiana University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. Applications from women and minorities are strongly encouraged. IU Bloomington is vitally interested in the needs of Dual Career couples.
Check out the Great Minds Think Alike game for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. It is a word association game that lets users build semantic concept networks and explore similarity relations between people and media content. Starting from a single word, the player builds a chain of words by selecting semantically related terms. Get the game from the App Store!
Congratulations to Dr. Jacob Ratkiewicz! Jacob successfully defended his dissertation titled The Expression of Human Behavior in Online Networks on May 2, 2011 and will take a position at Google in July. We will miss him!
On December 16, Mark Meiss presented our paper “Modeling Traffic on the Web Graph” (with Bruno, José, Sandro, and Fil) at the 7th Workshop on Algorithms and Models for the Web Graph (WAW 2010), at Stanford. In this paper we introduce an agent-based model that explains many statistical features of aggregate and individual Web traffic data through realistic elements such as bookmarks, tabbed browsing, and topical interests.
Astroturfers, Twitter-bombers and smear campaigners need beware this election season as a group of leading Indiana University information and computer scientists today unleashed Truthy.indiana.edu, a sophisticated new Twitter-based research tool that combines data mining, social network analysis and crowdsourcing to uncover deceptive tactics and misinformation leading up to the Nov. 2 elections. Combing through thousands of tweets per hour in search of political keywords, the team based out of IU’s School of Informatics and Computing will isolate patterns of interest and then insert those memes (ideas or patterns passed by imitation) into Twitter’s application programming interface (API) to obtain more information about the meme’s history.
In the run-up to the mid-term elections, Truthy uncovered a number of abuses such as robot-driven traffic to politician websites and networks of bot accounts controlled by individuals to promote fake news. These findings have been widely covered in the press, with mentions in The Atlantic, MIT Technology Review, PC World, New Scientist, NPR, Ars Technica, Fast Company, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The New York Times Magazine, and many other media. Read more here and here.