Introducing Media Cloud

Media Cloud is a project of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University that provides new and evolving tools to quantitatively examine the news media as an information ecosystem. Newly launched the Project’s objectives are ambitious. They are:

  • Develop an open database of the topics of all stories from thousands of sources
  • Build lightweight, interactive tools that allow casual users to easily ask the database questions
  • Publish open APIs that give other researchers full access to the database
  • Publish the code for the system under a free software license
  • Publish our own research using the database, including studies on media signatures, meme propagation, and geographic attention profiles

From the March 11 press release:

Researching the nature of news, and media information flows, has always faced a difficult challenge: there is so much produced by so many outlets that it is hard to monitor it all. Researchers have used painstaking manual content analysis to understand mass media. On the web, the explosion of citizen media makes such an approach far more difficult and less comprehensive. By automatically downloading, processing, and querying the full text of thousands of outlets, Media Cloud will allow unprecedented quantitative analysis of media
trends.

Today’s launch allows a first view into some of what is possible on the Media Cloud platform. At http://www.mediacloud.org you can generate simple charts of media coverage across ources and countries. The actual capabilities of the system are much greater, and the Media
Cloud team is actively looking for other researchers who will bring their own questions as the tools are further developed. Ultimately, Media Cloud will provide open APIs that can support variety of lines of inquiry.

Visit the Media Cloud site, try the visualizations, share your research ideas with the team, and sign up for the Media Cloud mailing list to hear about functionality enhancements and other project developments.

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