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Twitter Gets a Search Facelift

June 25, 2015

Twitter has been experimenting with improving its search results and according to TechCrunch the upgrade comes via a new search results interface: “Twitter’s New Search Results Interface Expands To All Users.”  The new search results interface is the one of the largest updates Twitter has made in 2015.  It is supposed to increase the ease with a cleaner look and better filtering options.  Users will now be able to filter search results by live tweets, photos, videos, news, accounts, and more.

Twitter made the update to help people better understand how to use the message service and to take a more active approach to using it, rather than passively reading other peoples tweets.  The update is specifically targeted at new Twitter users.

The tweaked search interface will return tweets related to the search phrase or keyword, but that does not mean that the most popular tweets are returned:

“In some cases, the top search result isn’t necessarily the one with the higher metrics associated with it – but one that better matches what Twitter believes to be the searcher’s “intent.” For example, a search for “Steve Jobs” first displays a heavily-retweeted article about the movie’s trailer, but a search for “Mad Men” instead first displays a more relevant tweet ahead of the heavily-favorited “Mad Men” mention by singer Lorde.”

The new interface proves to be simpler and better list trends, related users, and news.  It does take a little while to finesse Twitter, which is a daunting task to new users.  Twitter is not the most popular social network these day and it’s using these updates to increase its appeal.

Whitney Grace, June 25, 2015
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Search Improvements at Twitter

June 18, 2015

Search hasn’t exactly been Twitter’s strong point in the past. Now we learn that the site is rolling out its new and improved search functionality to all (logged-in) users in TechCrunch’s article, “Twitter’s New Search Results Interface Expands to All Web Users.” Reporter Sarah Parez tells us:

“Twitter is now rolling out a new search results interface to all logged-in users on the web, introducing a cleaner look-and-feel and more filtering options that let you sort results by top tweets, ‘live’ tweets, accounts, photos, videos, news and more. The rollout follows tests that began in April which then made the new interface available to a ‘small group’ of Twitter users the company had said at the time. The updated interface is one of the larger updates Twitter’s search engine has seen in recent months, and it’s meant to make the search interface itself easier to use in terms of switching between tweets, accounts, photos and videos.”

Twitter has been working on other features meant to make the site easier to use. For example, the revamped landing page will track news stories in specified categories. Users can also access the latest updates through the “instant timeline” or “while you were away” features. The article supplies a few search-interface before-and-after screenshots. Naturally, Twitter promises to continue improving the feature.

Cynthia Murrell, June 18, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Emojis Spur Ancient Language Practices

May 12, 2015

Emojis, different from their cousin emoticons, are a standard in Internet jargon and are still resisted by most who grew up in a world sans instant connection.  Mike Isaac, who writes the New York Times Bits blog, tried his best to resist the urge to use a colon and parentheses to express his mood.  Isaac’s post “The Rise Of Emoji On Instagram Is Causing Language Repercussions” discusses the rise of the emoji language.

Emojis are quickly replacing English abbreviations, such as LOL and TTYL.  People are finding it easier to select a smiley face picture over having to type text.  Isaac points to how social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat users are relying more on these pictograms for communication.   Instagram’s Thomas Dimson mentioned we are watching the rise of a new language.

People string emojis together to form complete sentences and sentiments.  Snapchat and Instagram rely on pictures as their main content, which in turn serves as communication.

“Instagram itself is a means of expression that does not require the use of words. The app’s meteoric rise has largely been attributed to the power of images, the ease that comes, for instance, in looking at a photo of a sunset rather than reading a description of one.  Other companies, like Snapchat, have also risen to fame and popularity through the expressive power of images.”

Facebook and Twitter are pushing more images and videos on their own platforms.  It is a rudimentary form of communication, but it harkens back to the days of cave paintings.  People are drawn to images, because they are easy to interpret from their basic meaning and they do not have a language barrier.  A picture of a dog is still the same in Spanish or English. The only problem from using emojis is actually understanding the meaning behind them.  A smiley face is easy to interpret, but a dolphin, baseball glove, and maple leaf might need some words for clarification.

Isaac finishes that one of the reasons he resisted emojis so much was that it made him feel childish, so he reserved them for his close friends and family.  The term “childish” is subjective, just like the meaning of emojis, so as they become more widely adopted it will become more accepted.

Whitney Grace, May 12, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Social Network Demographics by the Numbers

April 23, 2015

The amount of social networking Web sites and their purposes is as diverse as the human population.  Arguably, if you were to use each of the most popular networks and try to keep on top of every piece of information that filters through the feed, one twenty-four hour day would not be enough.

With social media becoming more ingrained in daily life, it makes one wonder who is using what network and for what purpose.  Business Insider discusses a recent BI Intelligence about social media demographics in the article: “Revealed: A Breakdown Of The Demographics For Each Of The Social Networks.”  Here are some of the facts: Facebook is still mostly female and remains the top network.  Twitter leans heavier on the male demographic, while YouTube reaches more adults in 18-34 demographic than cable TV.  Instagram is considered the most important of teenage social networks, but Snapchat has the widest appeal amongst the younger crowd.  This is the most important for professionals:

LinkedIn is actually more popular than Twitter among U.S. adults. LinkedIn’s core demographic are those aged between 30 and 49, i.e. those in the prime of their career-rising years. Not surprisingly, LinkedIn also has a pronounced skew toward well-educated users.”

Facebook still reigns supreme and pictures are popular with the younger sect, while professionals all tend to co-mingle in their LinkedIn area.  Surprising and not so revealing information, but still interesting for the data junkie.  We wonder how social media will change in the coming year?

Whitney Grace, April 23, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Twitter Plays Hard Ball or DataSift Knows the End Is in Sight

April 11, 2015

I read “Twitter Ends its Partnership with DataSift – Firehose Access Expires on August 13, 2015.” DataSift supports a number of competitive and other intelligence services with its authorized Twitter stream. The write up says:

DataSift’s customers will be able to access Twitter’s firehose of data as normal until August 13th, 2015. After that date all the customers will need to transition to other providers to receive Twitter data. This is an extremely disappointing result to us and the ecosystem of companies we have helped to build solutions around Twitter data.

I found this interesting. Plan now or lose that authorized firehose. Perhaps Twitter wants more money? On the other hand, maybe DataSift realizes that for some intelligence tasks, Facebook is where the money is. Twitter is a noise machine. Facebook, despite its flaws, is anchored in humans, but the noise is increasing. Some content processes become more tricky with each business twist and turn.

Stephen E Arnold, April 11, 2015

Twitter Search: Well, Sort Of

April 9, 2015

I read “Updating Trends on Mobile.” I am more interested in more detailed information about Twitter content, users, and tags. General purpose or massified outputs are of little utility in my little world.

I noted this passage:

We’ve been working to make content easier to find over the last several months in places like your home timeline – with recaps and Tweets from within your network – and through efforts like MagicRecs. We’ll continue to make improvements like these in the future.

If you navigate to the Twitter search page and enter a string like “enterprise search”, you will see variants of the term or phrase expressed as Twitter hash tags. The trends displayed were reflective of what Twitter’s log suggest is hot. Here’s an example:

image

How many of these trends do you recognize. I knew about iOS 8.3, Apple Watch, and not much else.

Queries for tweets remain a bit problematic for me.

Stephen E Arnold, April 9, 2015

Tweets Reveal Patterns of Support or Opposition for ISIL

March 31, 2015

Once again, data analysis is being put to good use. MIT Technology Review describes how “Twitter Data Mining Reveals the Origins of Support for the Islamic State.” A research team lead by one WalidMagdy at the Qatar Computing Research Institute studied tweets regarding the “Islamic State” (also known as ISIS, ISIL, or just IS) to discern any patterns that tell us which people choose to join such an organization and why.

See the article for a detailed description of the researchers’ methodology. Interesting observations involve use of the group’s name and tweet timing. Supporters tended to use the whole, official name (the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant” is perhaps the most accurate translation), while most opposing tweets didn’t bother, using the abbreviation. They also found that tweets criticizing ISIS surge right after the group has done something terrible, while supporters tended to tweet after a propaganda video was released or the group achieved a major military victory. Other indicators of sentiment were identified, and an algorithm created. The article reveals:

“Magdy and co trained a machine learning algorithm to spot users of both types and said it was able to classify other users as likely to become pro- or anti-ISIS with high accuracy. ‘We train a classifier that can predict future support or opposition of ISIS with 87 percent accuracy,’ they say….

“That is interesting research that reveals the complexity of the forces at work in determining support or opposition to movements like ISIS—why people like [Egypt’s] Ahmed Al-Darawy end up dying on the battlefield. A better understanding of these forces is surely a step forward in finding solutions to the tangled web that exists in this part of the world.

“However, it is worth ending on a note of caution. The ability to classify people as potential supporters of ISIS raises the dangerous prospect of a kind of thought police, like that depicted in films like Minority Report. Clearly, much thought must be given to the way this kind of information should be used.”

Clearly. (Though the writer seems unaware that the term “thought police” originated with Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, the reference to Minority Report shows he or she understands the concept. But I digress.) Still, trying to understand why people turn to violence and helping to mitigate their circumstances before they get there seems worth a try. Better than bombs, in my humble opinion, and perhaps longer-lasting.

Cynthia Murrell, March 31, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

Partnership Between Twitter and IBM Showing Results

March 27, 2015

The article on TechWorld titled IBM Boosts BlueMix and Watson Analytics with Twitter Integration investigates the fruits of the partnership between IBM and Twitter, which began in 2014. IBM Bluemix now has Twitter available as one the services available in the cloud based developer environment. Watson Analytics will also be integrated with Twitter for the creation of visualizations. Developers will be able to grab data from Twitter for better insights into patterns and relationships.

“The Twitter data is available as part of that service so if I wanted to, for example, understand the relationship between a hashtag on pizza, burgers or tofu, I can go into the service, enter the hashtag and specify a date range,” said Rennie. “We [IBM] go out, gather information and essentially calculate what is the sentiment against those tags, what is the split by location, by gender, by retweets, and put it into a format whereby you can immediately do visualisation.”

From the beginning of the partnership, Twitter gave IBM access to its data and the go-ahead to use Twitter with the cloud based developer tools. Watson looks like a catch all for data, and the CMO of Brandwatch Will McInnes suggests that Twitter is only the beginning. The potential of data from social media is a vast and constantly rearranging field.

Chelsea Kerwin, March 27, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

Study Find Millennials Willing to Pay for News to a Point

March 26, 2015

The article titled Millennials Say Keeping Up With the News Is Important To Them—But Good Luck Getting Them To Pay For It on NiemanLab explores the findings of a recent study by the Media Insight Project in partnership with the American Press Institute. A great deal of respondents get their news from Facebook, although the majority (88%) said it was only occasionally. Twitter and Reddit also made the list. Interestingly, millennials claimed multiple access methods to news categories across the board. The article states,

“The survey asked respondents how they accessed 24 different news topics, from national politics and government to style, beauty, and fashion. Facebook was either the number one or two source of information for 20 of the 24 topics, and in nine of those topics it was the only source cited by a majority of respondents. Search was the second most popular source of information, ranking first or second in 13 of the 24 news topics.”

In spite of the title of the article, most millennials in the study were willing to pay for at least one subscription, either digital or print. The article doesn’t mention the number of people involved in the study, but deeper interviews were held with 23 millennials, which is the basis for the assumptions about broader unwillingness to pay for the news, whether out of entitlement or a belief that access to free news is a fundamental pillar of democracy.

Chelsea Kerwin, March 26, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

The Info Mayflies: The Life Span of a Tweet

February 8, 2015

I read “Why It’s Never Been Harder to Be Seen on Social Networks (and What to Do about It: Hint, Buy Ads).” Google would certainly approve of this title’s message. The Twitter Google tie up is designed to deal with recalcitrant Twitter members like my dog Tess. She has a Twitter account and a Facebook page.

I noted a factoid:

tweets have an extremely short life span; a tweet’s half-life—that is, when half of a link’s total clicks occur—is 24 minutes, according to social media analytics firm Wisemetrics. So if a consumer doesn’t interact with a brand’s message shortly after it’s posted, chances are, he probably never will. Marketers are finding similar situations on Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and even the shopping-focused, advertising-supported Polyvore.

I have zero idea if this assertion is accurate. My hunch is that the time value of a tweet is even less. I, for example, do not read tweets; therefore, the tweets flowing out that I could view have a life spam of zero.

With Twitter a growth challenged and geographic-centric activity, tweets are ephemeral in my view.

One way to interpret this factoid is that a Twitter member who wants to be noticed faces an uphill climb. But Mother Google and Cousin Twitter are there to help—for a price.

Stephen E Arnold, February 8, 2015

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