Just out, a Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (University of Oxford) report titled Big Data for Media. Authored by Martha L. Stone, the 33-page report, which looks at the big data phenomenon in the media sector, grew out of interview research with publishers, broadcasters, data scientists, and academics as well as two “Big Data for Media” London-based conferences in 2013 and 2014.
“For newspapers, television, magazines and Internet-only publishers, Big Data strategies can include audience analytics to enable a better understanding and targeting of customers; tools to understand public and private databases for journalistic storytelling; tools to manage and search the exploding amount of video, social media and other content; tools to target advertising and ad campaigns; tools to automate the production of text and video stories, tools to identify waste and enable efficiencies; and much more….While media industries are learning a lot from each other about Big Data, they are also increasingly drawing insights from other sectors beyond the media.” —Report’s introduction
Case studies of various media outlets make up the meat of the report. Outlets include the Huffington Post, Buzz Feed, Financial Times and FT.com, dunnhumbly, Sacramento Bee, Archant, BBC, and CNN. The pages are data rich in the form of pie and bar charts and other visuals.
In Big and broad social data and the sociological imagination: A collaborative response published in Big Data & Society, the new open access journal from Sage (July-December 2014 vol. 1 no. 2) authors William Housley, Rob Proctor, Adam Edwards, Peter Burnap, Mathew Williams, Luke Sloan, Omer Rana, Jeffrey Morgan, Alex Voss and Anita Greenhill discuss the challenges of big data to sociologists. The “adoption of a new generation of distributed, digital technologies and the gathering momentum of the open data movement,” according to the authors, grounds the work of the Collaborative Online Social Media ObServatory (COSMOS) project.
What is the Collaborative Online Social Media ObServatory (COSMOS)? Based in the UK, it is made up of a team of collaborators from Cardiff, Warwick and St. Andrews Universities (by and large the above authors) whose aim is to bring together “social, computer, political, health, statistical and mathematical scientists to study the methodological, theoretical, empirical and technical dimensions of social media data in social and policy contexts.”
These collaborators keep a watchful eye on ethical issues related to the new methodological tools being developed to harvest and evaluate digital data.
Publications include the COSMOS Online Ethics Resource Guide which is brief but rounds up an up-to-date bibliography on internet research ethics, including the 2012 Recommendations report by The Association Of Internet Researchers (AOIR).
COSMOS is also an open source software platform developed by the Project to access and analyze social media and other forms of digital data. Use of this software–they claim it requires no programming ability–is free to academic or non-profit researchers.