Category: Web 2.0 / Social Media

Adding the bling: The role of social media data intermediaries

Last month, Twitter announced the acquisition of Gnip, one of the main sources for social media data—including Twitter data. In my research I am interested in the politics of platforms and data flows in the social web and in this blog post I would like to explore the role of data intermediaries—Gnip in particular—in regulating access to social media data. I will focus on how Gnip regulates the data flows for social media APIs and how it capitalizes on these data flows. By turning the licensing of API access into an profitable business model the role of these data intermediaries have specific implications for social media research. The history of Gnip Gnip launched on July 1st, 2008 as a platform offering access to data from various social media sources. It was founded by Jud Valeski and MyBlogLog founder Eric Marcoullier as “a free centralized callback server that notifies data consumers (such as Plaxo) in real-time when there is new data about their users on various data producing sites (such as Flickr and Digg)” (Feld 2008). Eric Marcoullier’s background in blog service MyBlogLog is of particular interest as Gnip has taken core ideas behind the technical infrastructure of the blogosphere and has repurposed them for the […]

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Minds Without Bodies: Rites of Religions 2.0 by Karlessi from Ippolita at Unlike Us #3

Karlessi from the Italian research group Ippolita talks about the increasing data production of web users and how we contribute to measurement systems and the dissemination of real-time dataflows often discussed in terms of big data. He argues that big data is not only produced for “Big Brothers” but that the act behind the production of this data, for example tweeting, liking, sharing and commenting have become rituals inscribed in the mediation of sociality by platforms. Mediated rituals For Karlessi the ritual recalls the flow of water where a rite is something that flows, changes but also repeats itself in proceeding. These repeated practices can become rituals of interaction to “make things happen” in a relatively predictable manner. Such procedures, for example established rituals, are structured in a predictable manner and therewith are the very means to control crowds. In Crowds and Power (1960) Canetti describes how we do rituals to avoid open crowd eruption whereas in Religion for Atheists (2012) Alain de Botton discusses rituals as a way to organize communities (in both religious and secular states). In secular societies we still have many rituals and the inscribed mechanisms within social media platforms. Karlessi jokes how it’s very good […]

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Facebook Demetricator and the Easing of Prescribed Sociality by Ben Grosser at Unlike Us #3

At Unlike Us #3 Ben Grosser presented the Facebook Demetricator which is a web browser extension that hides all the metrics on Facebook and therewith demetricates Facebook’s interface. Grosser describes his project as a piece of critical software that intervenes in the numerical focus of Facebook. The quantification of social relations: More! Ben Grosser narrates a scene from Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps where Jacob asks his new boss, Bretton James: “What’s your number?” “Everybody has a number, a set amount of money that once they hit, they’ll leave the game and just go play golf for the rest of their life. What’s yours?” and his response is: “More.” The scene depicts a moment in the movie, which deals with the 2008 USA financial collapse, before the financial crisis and shows capitalist society’s fetish with increasing numbers and numerical growth which eventually came to a collapse. He describes the human desire to make numbers go higher, whether this means stocks rising, calories burned, friends added, likes accrued or comments left. Grosser states how we are obsessed with these numbers and that we’re paying more attention to the numbers than the actual content of the interaction. He defines metrics in relation to […]

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Twitter data available in CSV and JSON with a nice HTML view

Eight months after I requested my own Twitter data from Twitter through a legal request under the European privacy law, Twitter now allows you to download your own tweets through their interface. The archive can be downloaded from the settings page (see this blog post from Twitter) and the file named contains all your tweets from the beginning. The tweets are stored in two different formats: CSV and JSON which makes it a versatile archive to work with for both users and developers. The archive does not only contain your own tweets but also tweets you have retweeted but excludes DMs and favorites. The archive is neatly organized and tweets are stored in files per year per month, for example: 2007_08.js. The .zip file also includes an interface to browse through your archive per year per month: My previous archive which I received from Twitter contains more data because back then I requested all data Twitter keeps about me, which includes direct messages, metadata and logins, IP addresses, contacts, etc. The data that is available per tweet in both archives is quite similar: When comparing my old archive to the new archive what seems to be different however is the availability […]

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Where my username comes from

I have been using the username silvertje for several services and multiple social media platforms for years and people have been asking me where my username comes from. The answer is IRC. When I first came online, somewhere in 1995, I quickly discovered IRC and became an avid user :) In contrast to current social networking sites and social media platforms there was no way to “register” a username on IRC. This meant that you either had to hope no-one else would use the same name, or have a very unique username, or be online all the time and “claim” your username through persistant onlineness. Being on a 14K4 dail-up connection which cost over 5 Dutch Guilders (about 5 dollars) per hour I had a clear disadvantage compared to the American and Finnish IRC users who were able to be online all the time for free through their universities. So every time I used IRC I had to dail-up, get online, get on IRC and hope no one was using my username. The first username I picked was ‘sliver’ (after the Nirvana song) but that one was taken very often. Then I decided on ‘_sliver_’ but that one was also often taken. Then […]

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Trying out some new services:, State, Branch, Medium, Kippt, Buffer

Over the past couple of weeks I have joined a variety of new services including, State, Branch, Medium, Kippt, Buffer. I recently backed my first kickstarter-ish project ever and decided to join (AppDotNet or ADN). People keep asking me if I think it can ever compete with Twitter or will it ever reach critical mass or if it will stay a ghost town like Google+? For me the question is not whether ADN will be able to “replace” Twitter but rather I see it as a reflection of the current zeitgeist. ADN is not simply an ad-free alternative to Twitter. Instead, alternatives to major platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are increasingly gaining momentum. ADN is definitely not the first, think for example of Diaspora (launched as a Facebook alternative) and (formerly Status.Net) which calls itself “a stream oriented social network service” (FAQ). Both services never really went mainstream, maybe because they were both ahead of their time. ADN, at a first glance, seems similar to but there is one important distinction which also differentiates it from Twitter because with “You can install the StatusNet software that runs on your own servers, since it’s Free […]

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