Researching Quantized Social Interaction

Category: Alex Leavitt

Archiving Internet Subculture: Encyclopedia Dramatica

EDIT: Pointed out in comments that we wrote 4901 articles instead of actual total of 9401 articles. The Web Ecology Project is dedicated to the preservation of digital culture and folklore. In a recent talk about the Archive Team, Jason Scott elucidated the usual strategy that companies employ for dealing with digital artifacts, platforms, and […]


An Initial Survey by Alex Leavitt & Tim Hwang with Patrick Davison, Mike Edwards, Devin Gaffney, Sam Gilbert, Erhardt Graeff, Jennifer Jacobs, Dan Luxemburg, Kunal Patel, Mike Rugnetta, & Karina van Schaardenburg This paper represents an initial study of, conducted between February 6th and 7th, 2010 by researchers in attendance at Web Ecology Camp […]

The Influentials

New Approaches for Analyzing Influence on Twitter By Alex Leavittwith Evan Burchard, David Fisher, & Sam Gilbert Using a new methodology based on the content and responses of 12 popular users, we determined measurements of relative influence on Twitter. We examined an ecosystem of 134,654 tweets, 15,866,629 followers, and 899,773 followees, and in response to […]

Detecting Sadness in 140 Characters:

Sentiment Analysis and Mourning Michael Jackson on Twitter By Elsa Kim and Sam Gilbert with Michael J. Edwards and Erhardt Graeff Michael Jackson’s death created an emotional outpouring of unprecedented magnitude on Twitter. In this report, we examine 1,860,427 tweets about Jackson’s death in order to test various methods of sentiment analysis and gain insights […]

Reimagining Internet Studies:

Like the web itself, the study of the web is mostly an improvised structure. A group of progressive scholars, swept up by the technological transformation of the past decade, have done their best to keep up with understanding the massive cultural and social effects of our communication infrastructure.

Not surprisingly, the inevitable outcome of this state of affairs is that the body of research about the web is fatally fragmented. Economists are caught attempting to assert dated models against new motivational frameworks. Journalists attempt to prescribe weak methods to maintain traditional standards around the creation and transfer of information. Marketers and social media experts, still largely divorced from a universe of quantitative and technical research, fail to provide a useful approach. No coherent body of research has emerged focusing on studying the internet as the internet.

This has resulted in fundamental weaknesses in the approach to studying social phenomena online. Relevant approaches are being ignored and opportunities for applying cutting edge research from a number of siloed traditions are going unexplored.

Our field poses two simple questions to researchers:

  • “Where have studies about the web failed?” and,
  • “How can we do better?”

The emerging field of Web Ecology is an attempt to unify contemporary research and practice under a common focus, set of principles, and general approach to promote new insights and more fruitful forms of exchange in this space. We believe that these lay the groundwork for a more vibrant, more dynamic, and more useful field of research and community of researchers.

The Iranian Election on Twitter:

The First Eighteen Days Key Findings From 7 June 2009 until the time of publication (26 June 2009), we have recorded 2,024,166 tweets about the election in Iran. Approximately 480,000 users have contributed to this conversation alone. 59.3% of users tweet just once, and these users contribute 14.1% of the total number. The top 10% […]