Setting An Exercise In Social Media “Research”
Reading @briankelly’s post on Institutional Use of Twitter by Russell Group Universities just now, where he refers to an old list of Twitter accounts compiled (in a blog post) by Liz Azyan, I wondered how I’d go about finding, or compiling, a comprehensive list of official Twitter accounts for UK HE institutions.
My first thought was: Google “uk universities twitter list” to find lists folk are currently curating themselves. This search (for me) turns up lists such as @thirdyearabroad/uk-universities and @bellerbys/uk-universities/, as well as Liz’s post.
Peeking at the two lists mentioned above, I notice they follow different numbers of Twitter users, which suggests to me I need to build a couple of scripts:
1) a script that will take a list of N Twitter lists and generate a union list
2) a script that will take a list of N Twitter lists and generate the set of users who:
2a) appear on each list;
2b) appear on at least M of N lists;
2c) appear on only one list.
The second idea that came to mind was in response to the question: is there a more effective way of finding lists of UK HE Twitter accounts? And what came to mind was this script I now need to hack together:
3) pick a handful of (official UK university) Twitter account IDs and pull down the lists that they have been added to; find the intersection set of lists that follow all the users in the test set, under the assumption that these may be lists that follow some common characteristic of those users, e.g. the fact that they are official UK university accounts.
This second approach uses a set of user IDs you would expect to be on a particular list as bait for finding lists that do include all those IDs.
(A corollary of this might be to look at a set of people you might expect to follow a particular sort of list, pull down the lists they follow/subscribe to, and then look for the intersection set of lists that all the sample users follow…?)
The third idea was to see whether I could find Twitter accounts linked to from university pages, searching Google for things like site:ac.uk link:twitter.com, but that wasn’t very satisfactory. Searching for university site:twitter.com improves matters, and inspection of the result suggests intitle:university site:twitter.com may be even more effective…
Searching for intitle:university site:twitter.com -inurl:status excludes results from tweets, but we still get results relating to lists as well as accounts. I can’t find an obvious way of only searching for UK universities…
So the exercise is this: how would you generate a comprehensive list of official UK university Twitter accounts?
PS FWIW, I think coming up with search/discovery strategies such as the above is the sort of information skill we might consider or indeed, expect to be a graduate level information skill. Discuss.
PPS I would of course appreciate ideas for alternative, and indeed, more effective ways of completing the “how to find lists of official Twitter accounts for UK universities” in the comments:-)