Twitter will invest $10 million in the recently launched Laboratory for Social Machines at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The cash will be funded over five years, and MIT will have access to the full stream of public tweets through Gnip.
“In a time of growing political polarization and institutional distrust, social networks have the potential to remake the public sphere as a realm where institutions and individuals can come together to understand, debate and act on societal problems,” reads the MIT Laboratory for Social Machines homepage. “To date, large-scale, decentralized digital networks have been better at disrupting old hierarchies than constructing new, sustainable systems to replace them. Existing tools and practices for understanding and harnessing this emerging media ecosystem are being outstripped by its rapid evolution and complexity.”
The Lab plans to build grounded semantics and network analysis that enable large-scale analysis of content, and implement pattern discovery, data visualization and mobile app technologies to analyse patterns in social systems, including Twitter.
Journalists and social/political reform movements will have access to the findings.
“This is an exciting step for all of us at Twitter as we continue to develop new ways to support the research community,” writes Mark Gillis, Academic Partnerships at Twitter.
“The Laboratory for Social Machines anticipates using Twitter data to investigate the rapidly changing and intersecting worlds of news, government and collective action. The hope is that their research team will be able to understand how movements are started by better understanding how information spreads on Twitter.”
(Source: Twitter Blog.)