The MPs whose Wikipedia pages have been edited from inside Parliament

Grant Shapps is in the headlines after being accused of self-serving edits made to his own entry on Wikipedia, as well as unflattering changes made to rivals’ pages. But he may not be the only politician giving himself a virtual facelift. Analysis of the Twitter account @parliamentedits, which tracks edits to Wikipedia made from inside the Houses of Parliament, shows other attempts to edit the online encyclopedia, many of them controversial.
Continue reading “The MPs whose Wikipedia pages have been edited from inside Parliament”

Quarterly Learning Report

We’ve blazed through a quarter of 2015 already, so the long Easter weekend provided a rare opportunity to take stock. Given that my last blog entry was sent from balmy Chile a while back, it seems like a good idea to offer some updates here too. So, below is a project-by-project summary of what I’m working on and what’s on the horizon… Continue reading “Quarterly Learning Report”

Big Data: the New Water or the New Oil?

In definitional terms, big data is, as we are repeatedly told, a matter of volume, velocity, variety and sometimes veracity. But perhaps as a result of a fifth v, the vagueness of this definition, those discussing the present and future impact of big data on society routinely describe big data more figuratively and evocatively. Often, this metaphorical definition takes the form of a liquid. Streams of big data flow and cascade between – and sometimes leak from – organisations. Continue reading “Big Data: the New Water or the New Oil?”

What the Thornberry Affair tells us about politicians online

Published on the the LSE British Politics and Policy blog.

Many commentators have speculated what was going through the mind of Emily Thornberry, the shadow Attorney General, when she tweeted a picture of a terraced Rochester house draped in three England flags and a white van parked in the driveway, with the simple caption ‘Image from Rochester’. Continue reading “What the Thornberry Affair tells us about politicians online”

Review: Trumbo offers a shallow take on Hollywood’s writer’s bloc

It seems more than a little fitting that Jay Roach’s new biopic, Trumbo, is classified as a ‘Drama’ for the forthcoming Golden Globes in spite of its studio’s preference for it to be considered in the less competitive Comedy category. This is fitting not only since Trumbo is a movie that doesn’t quite know what it wants to be, but also because it betrays the navel-gazing, self-referential tendencies of Hollywood that the movie initially seeks to satirize but ultimately falls victim to itself. …

Read more at MIT’s The Tech.

Big Data in the Humanities: lessons from papyrus and Instagram

I’m currently in Washington DC to attend the IEEE International Conference on Big Data. The first day is set aside for workshops, and I’ve just attended a really insightful one on ‘Big Humanities Data’. The diversity of work presented was immense, covering a huge sweep of history: from fragments of ancient Greek text to Instagram photos taken during the Ukraine revolution, via the Irish Rebellion of 1641 and the Spanish flu outbreak of a century ago. Nonetheless, certain patterns stuck out from many of most of the talks given. Continue reading “Big Data in the Humanities: lessons from papyrus and Instagram”

Nationalism and the Scottish Genius

It’s the smell that hits you first. Stepping into Waverley is to step into a wave of malty musk which suffuses your sinuses. Off the platform and into the car, it’s what you feel that gets you next: the juddery drive over improbably cobbly streets. And finally, what you see: Castle Rock and Arthur’s Seat, peaks that, if it’s misty, you might only be able to peek at. Continue reading “Nationalism and the Scottish Genius”

Murder in the time of virality

(For today’s social media landscape, invert the megaphone)

That the beheading of journalist James Foley is ‘media’ is horrific. Whether it is ‘social’ falls on all of us.

I, like millions of others, learned about the death of journalist James Foley on social media. But it just so happened that the news was delivered to me in as sensitive and sombre a way as possible. Continue reading “Murder in the time of virality”

Social media and public opinion: what’s new?

I’m currently writing up a paper for submission to the Internet, Politics and Policy 2014 conference to be held by the OII in September. My paper – which draws substantially on interviews conducted as part of the Sloan Foundation-funded project of which I’m part – asks whether and to what extent the measurement of public opinion has been transformed by the new availability of socially-generated sources of big data, such as social media postings and search queries, and the tools which allow us to analyse them. Continue reading “Social media and public opinion: what’s new?”