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Clemson receives federal grant to study social media

Staff Report
Published Nov. 15, 2012

The National Science Foundation awarded the Clemson University Social Media Listening Center two grants totaling more than $360,000 to conduct research for better collecting, analyzing and extracting meaning from the social Web.

The university opened the Social Media Listening Center earlier this year where students and faculty monitor thousands of conversations online to learn about users’ views on brands, companies or other issues. Researchers are able to capture more than 150 million sources of social media conversations coming from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, blogs and other online communities.

The first NSF award, a $262,000 grant, used the 2012 election cycle as a test bed for examining and developing techniques to analyze the implications of the social Web for national elections. This research developed a prototype visualization tool that captured social media posts related to selected races in the 2012 congressional election and also allowed researchers to explore the online discourse surrounding the election.

Previous coverage

Clemson opens social media research center

“The election is a forum for studying changes in opinion,” said Jason Thatcher, associate professor of management and faculty lead at the Social Media Listening Center. “We are able to visualize changes in sentiment towards candidates, issues, places, products and topics that are relevant to both industry and academic scholarship by building an open-source tool that leverages the high-performance computing resources available at Clemson.”

In collaboration with the University of Washington’s Social Media Lab, Clemson also received a $100,000 sub-award from a $997,118 grant for a project titled "Inspire: Tools, Models and Innovation Platforms for Research on Social Media" led by Robert Mason, associate dean for research at the University of Washington lab. Clemson researchers will support the work by developing open-source tools and models for aggregating, storing, analyzing and visualizing a vast amount of social media data.

“The ability to examine and understand the social Web is increasingly important in this age of information,” said Jim Bottum, Clemson's chief information officer and vice provost for computing and information technology. “Clemson’s Social Media Listening Center is catalyzing research for this online discourse on campus and across the nation.”

The Social Media Listening Center is an interdisciplinary research lab and teaching facility that brings together faculty, staff, students and external partners to support undergraduate creative inquiry, faculty research, education and outreach through social media listening.

The center is a collaborative initiative between Clemson Computing and Information Technology, the Clemson University Cyber Institute, the College of Business and Behavioral Science and the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities.