To gain a better insight into the opinions of people and organisations engaged in the issue of housing affordability and the ideas around future housing, I turned to web scraping on Twitter. Twitter is an online social platform which allows users to communicate information based upon the concept of ‘tweets’ – which are limited 140 character messages. The platform enables a widespread sharing of information through a network of posting(‘tweeting’), reposting (‘retweeting’), replying to other users and a hashtag system which contributes to the categorising of information.
Aside from the communication of words; images and videos as well as attachment to links are also additional features that can be circulated, which can be accessed through their advanced search option. This tool has been useful in obtaining search results that can be filtered accordingly to date ranges, people, location, phrases and more.
I found that Twitter would be an appropriate platform to access perspectives that are voiced in a way not usually found within articles or publications.
I first used the twitter plugin function in google spreadsheets to generate results from the search rule: #housing affordability near the location Sydney. From there, I looked at the followers count column and marked the results which came from accounts with a following of 1000+. I felt that these would be interesting to look at first, based on the assumption that they were opinions from more established people. I then looked at the retweets column and noted down the popular ones, in this instance, one was an outlier.
The spaces marked with a yellow tab indicates the tweets of interest, read first, before looking at the outlier for the most retweets.
It was interesting to see the most popular tweets were predominantly middle-aged people from a more established position, with an opinion expressed from someone belonging to the ageing population. From this select few, the tone of the tweets vary from clear sarcasm and also a somewhat objective tone. However, after seeing the influx of mainly politically and factual standpoints, I was more interested in the opinions from and related to Generation Y and the implications for future housing, therefore I decided to move onto process 2 as this process was not working very well in extracting the data from the stakeholders I wanted.
The second method I used was the advanced search tool in the twitter application. As the results from my previous web scraping was a bit limited, I broadened my search filter to include both #housing affordability and #future housing. Initially I included the location to however I removed it and instead of using hashtags, I focused on the keywords ‘Sydney Rent’. I was also interested in the photo results associated with this search.
The advanced search generated results that were easier to extract tweets that were more relatable towards Generation Y. One showed the opinion from the Labor Party presenting a disapproving perspective on the proposals from the opposition through mocking statements that comment upon the unsustainable financial situation that future home owners/renters are in. Furthermore, interesting opinions expressing monetary comparisons towards the housing market arose from people who belonged to the Generation Y category.
- Majority of the tweets found which had the hashtag/s were motivated by a dissatisfaction with the lack of government’s participation in helping with the current housing crisis
- A sarcastic tone is present within a lot of the tweets which reinforce the emotional strain affecting the stakeholders – Generation Y being a major one
- Comparison is used a lot to put the affordability of housing into perspective
- Whilst I was more interested in reading about the design and infrastructure considerations of future housing models, I found it difficult to find tweets of relevance through my searches. It is clear that currently the priority is getting the attention of the Government to enact appropriate changes accordingly to better prepare for future home buyers