Building software for quantitative, human-centered studies of information environments.
PCAD creates applications for understanding social media.
Social media research can be tricky at times. As social media companies shift their strategies and technology, the Political and Civic Applications Division (PCAD) research team identifies and creates applications to increase understanding of how social media shapes our everyday lives. PCAD's applications are useful to everyday social media users and researchers alike.
For example, quantitative social media research has traditionally been conducted from what might be called a platform-centric view, wherein researchers sample, collect, and analyzed data based on one or more topic- or user-specific keywords. Such studies convey little about individual users’ tailored social media environments, the user-eye view. Studies that investigate social media from a user-eye view tend to be rare because of the expense involved and a limited number of suitable tools.
So, PCAD developed PIEGraph to chart personal information environments (PIE). PIEGraph shows if and to what extent people are exposed to diverse political information of low and high quality on Twitter. It allows users to better understand the information quality in their social media feeds. PIEGraph is lightweight, scalable, open-source, OS-independent, and collects data viewable from mobile and desktop interfaces directly from APIs. The system incorporates an extensible tagging taxonomy that allows for straightforward classification of a wide range of political, social, and cultural phenomena.