post six: scraping web data

by zena dakkak

For this exercise I decided to focus on Twitter in order to gather data about the the publics view on homelessness. Twitter, created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone, and Noah Glass, is an online social networking service that enables users to send and read short 140-character messages called “tweets”. These tweets can be shared and viewed publicly or privately. Additionally users can also add hashtags that will reach a wider audience when users search that specific hashtag. Users can read and post tweets and access Twitter through the website interface, SMS or mobile device app. Other additional features have been added to enhance the users experience when it comes to text limitation. These features include the Twitter timeline, pinned Tweets, polls, mention Tweets, lists messages and cards as well as click to Tweets to extend the conversations. 

Essentially Twitter is used to connect people of all ages with the same interests. It can be used as a social and professional platform where users voice their opinion, breaking news, raise awareness on social issues, business, educational tools, share their thoughts and feelings and experiences through photos or tweets.  


flowchart

Data Scrapping Flow chart.jpg


findings

At first I was very specific with my Twitter search which proved to not what I was expecting. 

Twitter Search
youth homeless social OR australia OR youth OR homeless OR smelly OR privacy OR people OR alone OR mental OR health OR depression lang:en.
Most of the results had surprised me as it validated some points that I had about social exclusion. 

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A lot of the search consisted on LGBT related tweets confirming that there is a vast majority of youths around theworld that feel socially excluded and are homeless. Although these results were interesting, it wasn’t enough data, so I generated a new search. To continue my research I excluded LGBT to see what the results will show. 
Twitter Search
homeless social OR youth OR homeless OR smelly OR privacy OR people OR alone OR mental OR health -LBGT lang_en –
This search interestingly enough showed reoccurring views regarding homelessness. One of which was related to the issue of refugee VS homeless citizens. Most of the tweets explored the problem that the country is facing choosing between the refugees and the homeless citizens.

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Other tweets had a political view which relates to the new agreement for the US to send $38 billion to Israel. 

Dr. Craig Considine – @CraigCons
US govt. sends $38,000,000,000 to the Israel govt, yet this morning I walked my 3 homeless people on the way to work. This makes no sense.

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Twitter search
homeless  “hobo ” social OR australia OR youth OR homeless OR smelly OR privacy OR people OR hobo -LGBT lang:en

Finally, drawing upon the exercise in class, we emphasised on the word hobo and its connection with the word homelessness. To further explore my research I added the word hobo to my search.  I wanted to investigate what hobo means and the assumptions and different views the public holds. To start off I searched the definition of ‘hobo’. It is defined as a homeless person; a tramp or vagrant. When narrowing down my search I kept the meaning in mind and compared tweets. 
Most tweets referred to their physical appearance, others made fun of homeless people, lacking empathy for the homeless community. 

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Whereas fashion brands used the word as the title of a fashion object or reflected the the garments of a homeless person which in a way, mocks the homeless population, misleading and gives the word a new meaning in a way that society sees fit. 

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design proposition

In the next couple of weeks I hope to not only raise awareness about homeless but also explore the desensitisation of societies perspective about homelessness. I will be creating a service design that enables the people of the public and the homeless community interact with each other to break the barriers and assumptions of society.


summary points

  1. Twitter & twitter archiver is a great online tool to gather data and understand how a wider audience perceives a certain topic.
  2. When researching data, sometimes the simpler the better. Specific phrases can be very limited and one must be open to explore other options which can lead to an improved result.
  3. People’s views can be interpreted in different ways. Most of which are based on assumptions rather than facts.
  4. Very few posts reflected peoples motivation to help the homeless community. Rather it’s all talk but no action. (Did not see any movements or protests for the homeless community).
  5. People use the word hobo for their own benefits not knowing the true meaning behind it and lacking empathy towards the homeless community.