Posts Tagged 'Social Media'

M.Sc. thesis and job hunting

Well it’s been a long time since I last posted! about 12 weeks which has mostly been working on my M.Sc. thesis and finding a job for when I finish in Edinburgh at the end of August. Both are done now so I’ve got a bit more free time again (which will be mostly enjoying the Edinburgh festivals for a week!).

The thesis changed slightly from influenza tracking to trying to forecast the belief of the population about the recent swine flu outbreak. This ended up looking at ways of extracting and aggregating information from Twitter and blog posts then trying to forecast the value of a prediction market. Prediction markets along with text mining are both very interesting so I’ve learned a lot and enjoyed the whole project. I’m going to post about the work and what I found from it in a post soon, summarising the interesting bits from 70 pages!

On the job hunting front I have a job at Mendeley down in London starting mid September which I’ll hopefully blog about when I start there. The work they do is very interesting trying to bring science up to speed on the web, they describe themselves as “ for research” which kinda gives the scope of their goals. So I’m leaving academia finally but not quite, as the work I am doing will be very much helping many people doing research around the world.


Infulenza tracking project

Not too long till now until I start working on the project to try and track influenza through blog posts. I’ve updated the project page to include a link to my proposal for a few more details, I’ll hopefully update that properly once my exams are over.

The recent swine flu will also bring some interesting points to the project, like that fact I’ve just searched for the spelling now so how does Google know that? There has been a bigger buzz in the media, on blogs, and sites like twitter than relates to the actual spread of the disease which has been very quite slow and not that frequent, compared to the size of populations. Maybe a model of media news sources will also be needed to find what proportion of the noise on the web is really a flu signal.

I also found a site called DIYcity which started a project called SickCity a few months ago which they accelerated work on with the outbreak of swine flu. With this they try to track the trends of a range of illnesses over cites in the world, which as they found is a very hard task to do! I’m going to see if I can help them with their goals a bit as there aims overlap quite a bit with my summer project, and it would be nice to have some use-able data for people at the end of it. We’ll see where things go once I start working in June, stay tuned.

Disease trends and blog posts

The project for my M.Sc. this summer is going to be about tracking disease trends through blog posts. This will mostly likely be tracking Influenza as it is the most common disease each year and has readily available data, especially in the US, though I hope to include the UK and other countries if I can too. I’m not sure how reliable or accurate this is going to be, but there’s only one way to find out.

Tracking disease trends through indirect measurements is starting to become quite an interesting area in research. The internet has a vast number of users and small lag time between events and publication which makes projects such as Google Flu possible to accurately predict trends faster than direct means.

New social and conversational websites such as Twitter and Facebook also bring a lot more data directly posted from users in an almost real time basis that could improve disease tracking even more if the data is use in the right way. With website like these still being quite closed with their data for commercial, privacy, and technical issues it is still away off before researchers can go further with this.

I’m going to post my progress on this blog as the project develops to try and be as open with this research as possible with the hope that it can be applied to other sources of data than I have access to.


What are you doing?

Is a question people ask you all the time, and so do Twitter and Facebook too.

I used to never use the Facebook status as I didn’t like putting my whole life into Facebook, but recently I started to use Twitter to post (more tech related out bursts) and the Facebook application to update my status when I post in Twitter. This made me think about the different between these two status feeds, Facebook is more about what I’m doing that my friends would be interesting in and Twitter is more posting comments to like minded people which my friends don’t always appreciate. This leaves me with posting more general things in Twitter or just updating both separately, which I don’t want to do.

Maybe there should be a new service where you can compose your status and tag what it is about, then have it sent to different status stream services appropriately. For this to work you would need to get replies (or comments in Facebook) to be in one place too, which will be hard till Facebook opens up more. We’ll see where this unfolds this year I guess as the usage of conversational media grows on the web.

About Me

I'm a student at Edinburgh University studying Artificial Intelligence. Find out more about me and my projects on my website

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