Twitter is investing $10 million in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology over the following five years to study examples of how people use the Internet for goal sharing using social networks and possibly assemble innovation that will make online civic action more powerful. The research will happen as a feature of the MIT Media Lab under a dubiously dismal name - the Laboratory of Social Machines, and will be led by Deb Roy, an associate professor at MIT who as of now uses one day a week serving as Twitter's chief media scientist. As a part of its research, MIT will have absolute access to Twitter’s entire feed of public tweets dating back to 2006.
The fundamental idea of filtering through tweets for studying patterns and an accurate understanding is barely new. Twitter made $70 million in 2013 licensing utilization of its ‘fire hose’ the whole, monstrous stream of tweets flowing through its servers. Business and academic research turns out customarily, emphasizing on the six sorts of Twitter conversations, the inconceivability of keeping political affiliations stowed away on the system, or which nations are the saddest. “There are a lot of people at Twitter who are interesting in leveraging Twitter for social good,” says Roy. “This serves as kind of an outlet for that.”
Deb Roy's team of researchers is likewise contemplating the ways individuals communicate on open sites like Reddit and Wikipedia, and on conventional news sources. One significant subject the lab will study: the propensity of social networking to be preferable at creating negative energy over positive energy.
— MIT (@MIT) October 1, 2014
“It’s better at disrupting or stopping things, or having your voice heard,” says Roy. “It’s harder to harness that into sustained change. It’s not like there’s a silver bullet in technology, but there may be tools that can start to get beyond that disruptive potential.”
He additionally says the lab could build tools for columnists & journalists that would help them monitor trends in media as an approach to inform their coverage.
A majority of it depends on how each is organized, not one or the other idea sounds a long way from the types of products Twitter should seriously mull over building itself. It wouldn't be the first time when Roy’s academic work wound up inside Twitter's headquarters. Past research at MIT helped him create social TV analytics company called Bluefin Labs. He wound up working at Twitter when it was acquired last February.
The investment is significant for MIT’s Media Lab’s annual operating budget, which is about $45 million. Much of financial aid for the research comes from tech giants including Google, Microsoft and Intel. This kind of corporate funding for academic research unfortunately comes with strings attached. Last week, Stanford’s decision to not use funding aid from Google raised eyebrows. MIT says the new lab will have absolute operational and academic independence.