OUseful.Info, the blog…

Trying to find useful things to do with emerging technologies in open education

List Intelligence – Finding Reliable, Trustworthy and Comprehensive Topic/Sector Based Twitter Lists

I woke up full of good intentions to do so “proper” work today, but a a post by Brian Kelly on Numbers Matter: Let’s Provide Open Access to Usage Data and Not Just Research Papers triggered the hacker ethic in me and so I immediately set off down a rabbit hole… And here’s what I came back with…

Brian wrote:

The statistics for Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are easily obtained – although I am not aware of a way of automating the gathering of such statistics across all UK University presences which would be helpful if we wished to provide a national picture of how UK Universities are using these services.

Brian Kelly: Numbers Matter: Let’s Provide Open Access to Usage Data and Not Just Research Papers

“I am not aware of a way of…” Arghhhhhhh… Need – a – fix …

Something else Brian had done previously was a post on Institutional Use of Twitter by the 1994 Group of UK Universities, which had got me wondering about Setting An Exercise In Social Media “Research”, or “how I’d go about finding, or compiling, a comprehensive list of official Twitter accounts for UK HE institution”

I didn’t actually do anything about it at the time, but today I thought I’d spend an hour or so* mulling it over (after all, it might give me something to talk about at the OU hosted and UKOLN promoted Metrics and Social Web Services: Quantitative Evidence for their Use and Impact (I wish I hadn’t used the “script kiddie” title now -I’m a wannabe hacker, goddammit ;-))

(* It’s actually taken me about 4 hours, including this write up…)

So here’s what I came up with. The recipe is this:

- take one twitter list* that is broadly in the area you’re interested in (it doesn’t have to be a list, it might be a list of names of folk using a particular hashtag, or tweeting from a particular location, or even just the folk followed by a particular individual, for example); in the case of UK HEIs, I’m going to use @thirdyearabroad‘s uk-universities list;

- for every person on that “list”, look up the lists those people are on, and sort the results by list; this gives me something like:

...
/blackwellbooks/he-institutes 76
/christchurchsu/universities 76
/uhu_global/uk-irish 77
/targetjobsUK/universitiesuk 77
/umnoticias/universidades-2 78
/Routledge_StRef/universities-colleges 78
/eMotivator/higher-education 81
/Universityru/the-university-round-up 81
/VJEuroRSCGHeist/institutions 82
/UKTEFL/colleges-universities 82
/SPA_Digest/universities-7 85
/_StudentvisasUK/uk-uni-s-and-colleges 85
/OMorris/uk-universities 86
/UniversitiesUK/member-institutions 87
/bellerbys/uk-universities 87
/EuropaWOL/uk-univs 89
/livuni/universities 89
/Bi5on/educational 90
/campusprabi/ukuniversities 90
/thirdyearabroad/uk-universities 100

(Note that this also gives me a list of Twitter accounts of folk who may be interested in the sector…? I notice Routledge and Blackwell’s books for example? I wonder what a social network analysis of the friendship connections between the top 50 list maintainers (in the above list sorting) would look like [another rabbit hole appears...]?)

- by eye, scan those lists, and see if we can identify another list that looks promising. for example, what happens if I run the routine again using the @campusprabi/ukuniversities list?

...
/Universityru/the-university-round-up 88
/thirdyearabroad/uk-universities 90
/_StudentvisasUK/uk-uni-s-and-colleges 90
/UKTEFL/colleges-universities 90
/bellerbys/uk-universities 93
/SPA_Digest/universities-7 93
/livuni/universities 96
/OMorris/uk-universities 104
/UniversitiesUK/member-institutions 105
/EuropaWOL/uk-univs 106
/Bi5on/educational 109
/campusprabi/ukuniversities 140

Or how about @UniversitiesUK/member-institutions?

...
/targetjobsUK/universitiesuk 83
/Universityru/the-university-round-up 85
/Routledge_StRef/universities-colleges 85
/blackwellbooks/he-institutes 86
/thirdyearabroad/uk-universities 87
/UKTEFL/colleges-universities 87
/_StudentvisasUK/uk-uni-s-and-colleges 88
/SPA_Digest/universities-7 91
/bellerbys/uk-universities 95
/livuni/universities 96
/campusprabi/ukuniversities 105
/Bi5on/educational 119
/EuropaWOL/uk-univs 123
/OMorris/uk-universities 123
/UniversitiesUK/member-institutions 127

There’s an algorithm waiting to be found here, somewhere, for now identifying who members of the university set are? A very crude start may be something like: using the members of top 10(?) lists, create a list f possible universities, and class as universities those that appear on at least 5(?) of the lists?

Let’s try that, using the the 15 lists from the @UniversitiesUK/member-institutions run…

Here’s who’s listed in 14 or 15 of those lists:

UniKent 14
UniWestminster 14
UCLan 14
bournemouthuni 14
EdinburghNapier 14
RobertGordonUni 14
RoehamptonUni 14
UniversityLeeds 14
HeriotWattUni 14
LondonU 14
UniofEdinburgh 14
UniOfYork 14
uniglam 14
newportuni 14
oxford_brookes 14
Bristoluni 14
GlasgowUni 14
SussexUni 14
AbertayUni 14
ManMetUni 14
GlyndwrUni 14
aberdeenuni 14
LancasterUni 14
BradfordUni 14
uniofglos 14
GoldsmithsUoL 14
QMUL 14
BoltonUni 14
KeeleUniversity 14
imperialcollege 14
uniwales 14
UEL_News 15
univofstandrews 15
edgehill 15
AberUni 15
Uni_of_Essex 15
SwanseaMet 15
UniOfSurrey 15
UniofBath 15
UniofPlym 15
UniofExeter 15
BangorUni 15
BathSpaUni 15
sheffhallamuni 15
TeessideUni 15
UniStrathclyde 15
AstonUniversity 15
unibirmingham 15
HuddersfieldUni 15
UniofOxford 15
KingstonUni 15
portsmouthuni 15
MiddlesexUni1 15
sheffielduni 15
UniOfHull 15
SalfordUni 15
StaffsUni 15
warwickuni 15
uniofbrighton 15
cardiffuni 15
UlsterUni 15
leedsmet 15
DundeeUniv 15

So we presumably have good confidence that those are UK university accounts… it maybe also says something about the reach of those accounts?

Here’s that list of accounts with 14-15 mentions again and data corresponding to: number of lists, friends, followers, status updates, creation date:

UniWestminster 14 2420 3204 455 2007-08-29 13:53:51
UCLan 14 129 2925 1286 2008-07-23 11:30:08
bournemouthuni 14 228 3436 783 2009-07-14 16:47:34
EdinburghNapier 14 101 3589 621 2009-02-25 08:43:30
RobertGordonUni 14 129 1185 580 2010-02-04 09:17:23
RoehamptonUni 14 1345 2241 969 2009-04-19 09:25:06
UniversityLeeds 14 265 5416 974 2009-04-20 22:44:14
HeriotWattUni 14 59 2137 317 2009-03-03 09:10:37
LondonU 14 981 9078 615 2008-12-16 22:38:05
UniofEdinburgh 14 195 6150 771 2009-03-09 12:01:11
UniOfYork 14 131 4058 467 2009-03-27 16:12:05
uniglam 14 49 1769 858 2008-04-11 13:39:54
newportuni 14 271 2676 452 2008-07-17 12:52:08
oxford_brookes 14 931 3645 805 2009-06-22 12:59:32
Bristoluni 14 70 5952 1398 2009-03-16 16:51:45
GlasgowUni 14 124 8441 888 2009-01-30 09:06:35
SussexUni 14 1434 7703 2822 2009-02-16 16:35:37
AbertayUni 14 272 3173 1931 2009-02-10 13:36:00
ManMetUni 14 92 4888 703 2008-05-12 11:44:03
GlyndwrUni 14 837 1447 1637 2009-02-27 14:07:49
aberdeenuni 14 2370 5068 683 2009-02-09 10:38:18
LancasterUni 14 186 4417 445 2009-03-20 15:35:26
BradfordUni 14 369 3795 781 2009-01-05 14:06:26
uniofglos 14 282 2280 793 2009-05-20 12:55:28
GoldsmithsUoL 14 485 4008 465 2009-02-12 14:45:17
QMUL 14 1244 3692 899 2009-01-23 16:36:23
BoltonUni 14 114 1015 594 2009-03-06 09:21:28
KeeleUniversity 14 1528 5476 2890 2008-07-11 10:29:19
imperialcollege 14 2484 8014 1030 2008-07-08 14:56:33
uniwales 14 52 1507 319 2009-05-28 09:55:48
UEL_News 15 1907 2010 1780 2009-07-22 11:52:12
univofstandrews 15 118 3679 340 2009-02-02 15:12:20
edgehill 15 821 3556 1384 2008-05-26 11:53:56
AberUni 15 3986 3827 693 2009-01-07 14:07:57
Uni_of_Essex 15 258 3475 1156 2009-02-27 15:43:26
SwanseaMet 15 289 1573 856 2009-05-20 07:31:41
UniOfSurrey 15 487 5331 861 2009-01-24 13:42:48
UniofBath 15 90 6977 2093 2009-01-19 10:39:19
UniofPlym 15 599 3672 1173 2009-06-22 19:23:19
UniofExeter 15 3824 3921 1291 2009-07-27 16:35:16
BangorUni 15 96 3288 420 2009-01-23 15:12:50
BathSpaUni 15 36 1529 193 2010-01-08 10:39:07
sheffhallamuni 15 498 4565 513 2009-02-11 14:47:10
TeessideUni 15 971 5334 2261 2009-02-04 16:20:01
UniStrathclyde 15 181 3445 700 2009-03-06 11:45:17
AstonUniversity 15 384 5221 852 2008-03-26 11:14:12
unibirmingham 15 388 7665 1095 2008-12-04 11:27:39
HuddersfieldUni 15 1124 2941 989 2009-06-18 12:53:54
UniofOxford 15 53 19569 475 2009-06-18 08:28:28
KingstonUni 15 5 4215 216 2009-02-04 16:49:55
portsmouthuni 15 142 4073 1346 2009-01-26 16:04:41
MiddlesexUni1 15 115 2212 389 2009-05-13 16:15:56
sheffielduni 15 7240 8069 882 2009-01-22 15:06:17
UniOfHull 15 572 3061 587 2009-07-24 11:50:29
SalfordUni 15 441 5783 1177 2008-10-30 16:04:15
StaffsUni 15 329 2854 1326 2009-08-19 09:02:40
warwickuni 15 784 7987 1440 2008-08-20 11:12:25
uniofbrighton 15 150 3822 375 2009-05-08 14:18:14
cardiffuni 15 137 8597 1113 2008-01-11 22:48:49
UlsterUni 15 92 3671 1638 2008-07-17 22:27:15
leedsmet 15 4610 4977 4224 2009-02-10 10:28:24
DundeeUniv 15 2794 4407 4624 2009-04-24 14:14:29

For the unis at the bottom of the list, I wonder if the data identifies possible reasons why? A newly created account, maybe, not many updates, few followers? Presence lower down the list also maybe signals to the relevant marketing departments that their account maybe doesn’t have the reach they thought it did?

If you want to explore the data, it’s in a sortable table here (click on column header to sort by that column).

Not that many people are following lists yet… hmmm… maybe I need to add that in – numbers of people following a list when choosing lists?

Here’s the top 15 lists containing at least 20 unis from the @UniversitiesUK/member-institutions list, ordered by subscriber count (the columns are twittername/list, no. of unis from original list on list, number of subscribers):

/UniversitiesUK/member-institutions 127 125
/EtiquetteWise/colleges-and-universities 24 53
/aderitus/universities 44 34
/EMGonline/universities-and-colleges 30 30
/Farmsphere/followfarmer 22 29
/ellielovell/universities 46 29
/CR4_News/engineering-education 46 28
/HowToEnjoyCoUk/biz-trade-work 23 25
/mbaexchange/schools 31 24
/blackwellbooks/academia 79 23

How about if we filter on 75 or more unis from the @UniversitiesUK/member-institutions list?

/UniversitiesUK/member-institutions 127 125
/blackwellbooks/academia 79 23
/umnoticias/universidades-2 79 16
/Routledge_StRef/universities-colleges 85 14
/uhu_global/uk-irish 81 10
/eMotivator/higher-education 81 9
/_StudentvisasUK/uk-uni-s-and-colleges 88 8
/UKTEFL/colleges-universities 87 7
/Universityru/the-university-round-up 85 6
/bellerbys/uk-universities 95 5
/e4scouk/universities 77 5
/campusprabi/ukuniversities 105 5
/EuropaWOL/uk-univs 123 4
/OMorris/uk-universities 123 4
/studentsoftware/uk-universities-colleges 76 4
/thirdyearabroad/uk-universities 87 3
/SPA_Digest/universities-7 91 3
/targetjobsUK/universitiesuk 83 2
/VJEuroRSCGHeist/institutions 82 2
/blackwellbooks/he-institutes 86 2
/livuni/universities 96 1
/StaffsUni/other-universities 78 1
/DanteSystems/universities 77 1
/christchurchsu/universities 78 0
/Bi5on/educational 119 0

One last thing… Discovering newly created accounts is problematic with this approach – only accounts that appear on lists are included. One heuristic for finding new tweeps is to look the followers of the sorts of people they might follow (figuring that you’re unlikely to be followed by anyone in the early days, but you are likely to follow certain easily discovered, “big name” accounts in your sector). Many university accounts don’t follow large numbers of people, but maybe by looking at the accounts they do commonly follow (who are presumably the “big players” in the area), and then tracking back to the intersection of the people who follow those accounts (you still with me?!;-), we can get signal about new entrants to the area…?

Written by Tony Hirst

June 9, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Posted in Data, Infoskills, Insight

Tagged with ,

3 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. [...] absolutely no-one picked up on List Intelligence – Finding Reliable, Trustworthy and Comprehensive Topic/Sector Based Twitter Lis…, here’s a example of what the technique might be good [...]

  2. What is this written in? Is the code available somewhere?

    kerry

    June 13, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    • @kerry it’s written in some very horrible homebrew code (Python) which I can share with you if you really want (it’s truly horrible though); I also run it with a whitelisted API key, which means I don’t have to worry so much about the number of API calls I’, making… If there is a list you’re particularly interested in, I can run a job and let you have the data.

      Tony Hirst

      June 13, 2011 at 5:22 pm


Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 800 other followers

%d bloggers like this: