Visualising the #Britsoc14 network, at the BSA Conference 2014

Strong influencers, interesting discussion and a taste for Apple

The British Sociological Association held it’s three day conference at the University of Leeds from 23-25 April 2014. Themes were deliberately broad and all-encompassing, with a wide appeal to the entire spectrum of sociologists attending, and stimulated a lot of lively debate over these 3 days. What I found most interesting over this period, was the amount of discussion over the impact of technology on sociology, and how the digital (whether for ill or good) will continue to affect the Social Sciences. To this end, I decided to track the discussion around the offical BSA conference hashtag “#Britsoc14” to see to what exent (if any), a network of discussion was reflected in the twittersphere. In total, from the start of the pre-postgrad conference (22nd April 2014), until the writing of this article (22nd May 2014) there were 7,227 tweets which used the #Britsoc14 hashtag.

Getting interactive with #Britsoc14

The embedded and interactve visualisation below shows the twitter network over the 3 days of the conference, and most speficically only tweets tagged with the hashtag ‘#britsoc14’ that also mentioned someone else (thus, this is not a reflection of all tweets, but the linked network created in association with the #britsoc14 hashtag). Therefore, the shape of the network reflects the amount of tweets towards, or mentions of – specific people/tweeters using the #Britsoc14 hashtag at the conference.

The node (Twitter user) with the largest amount of mentions was Deborah Lupton (DALupton), who sits to the right of the network with the brightest green node, this was in part due to an interesting talk given by Deborah at the popular Quanitified Self Panel Session, where lots of tweets were shared discussing Deborah’s eye-opening survey results of the tools that academics use for discussing their research. The next cluster of blue nodes are those who had slightly less mentions, with the large cluster of pink nodes to the left, containing nodes/users who tweeted, but were mentioned the least (the links between these are too thin to show, but they appear as the smallest baseline nodes in the network). The thicker lines/edges between nodes represent the communication strands between users who mentioned each other alongside the hastag #Britsoc14.

Please feel free to zoom in, click on the nodes for more information, and also click on the link under the visualisation to open up a larger version, where you can search for particular users within the network (this works best on a laptop or tablet – apologies to those viewing on thier smartphones – the network is rather large, so best to see on a bigger screen).

Click here for a large, searchable, interactive version

For those who want to use images of my visualisation within thier work, please see the the animation and still image below, which summarise how the visualisation functions (please include a link back to this page if you use this animation or other images, and do feel free to contact me if you want to use any other objects on this page):
#Britsoc14 Interactive Network (Animation)

#Britsoc14 Interactive Network

For those interested, I created the visualisations above by using a combination of Gephi, the Network Splitter 3D plugin, and the Oxford Internet Institute’s nifty Sigma.JS Exporter tool.

An academic taste for Apple: Devices used for tweeting #Britsoc14

While tweeting at the event, I also noticed quite a few people using smartphones, tablets and laptops to tweet. A casual observation told me that the majority were using Apple devices, followed by web-based and desktop applications such as Tweet Deck and Hootsuite. The Circle Packing Graph of data pulled from the people using the #Britsoc14 hashtag shows that 36.02% tweeted with thier iPhones, followed by 18.82% using the web, 14.52% using Twitter for iPad, 10.75% using Twitter for Android, and 2.69% using Twitter for Android tablets (click on the image for a larger view):

#britsoc14 Software platforms used for tweeting (Circle Packing Graph)

#Britsoc14 Wordcloud

Finally, a wordcloud of the most tweeted words at the event show interesting conversations topics.  Apart from the #Britsoc14 hashtag, and lots of discussion around Deborah Lupton’s (previously mentioned talk at the Quantified Self Panel Session, other topics like ‘sociologists’, ‘networking’, ‘interesting’, ‘discusses’,’digital’ were also much discussed:

#britsoc14 wordcloud

For more from the conference, please see Mark Cariggan’s collection of podcasts on: Digital Public Sociology at #BritSoc14 and Podcasts discussing Digital Sociology at #BritSoc14 (with thanks to Mark Carrigan for sharing, and thanks to Huw Davies for recording and editing).

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