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Newsletter 2013

December 2013 - Robert Ackland organised a seminar on "The 2013 Web Index - Methodology, Results and Discussion", held at the ANU on 3 December.  Speakers were: Robert Ackland, Sarah Logan and Michael Chisnall.  Designed and produced by the World Wide Web Foundation, the Web Index is the world’s first multi-dimensional measure of the Web’s growth, utility and impact on people and nations. This seminar provided an overview of the methodology that underpins the Web Index and some of the key results from the 2013 Web Index, followed by discussion.

December 2013 - Robert Ackland presented a master class on "Social Network Analysis: Its Utility for Global Leadership", hosted by the Area Studies Innovation Program at Tsukuba University, Japan.

November 2013 - Robert Ackland was awarded a 3-year Australian Research Council Grant for the project "Understanding online attention and user-generated content creation: An information consumption and production perspective".  There is a strong practical need for methods for understanding and measuring online behaviour. In this project, economic index number theory will be used to study information consumption, leading to new ways of measuring online attention and influence. Techniques for studying scaling relationships in the physical world will be used to study information production, leading to new insights into the efficiency of production of user-generated content. The project will contribute to understanding how social media such as Twitter contribute to social unrest and affect consumer decisions, and how distributed online collaboration can produce economically-valuable information resources such as Wikipedia.

June 2013: Robert Ackland's new book Web Social Science: Concepts, Data and Tools for Social Scientists in the Digital Age (SAGE Publications) was published in June 2013!  Also see the Web Social Science website.

May 2013: We reached an important milestone November last year, with our 1000th VOSON registered user! We now have over 1200 registered users.  The VOSON software has been freely available to academics and students since 2006, and Uberlink started providing VOSON services to people outside of academia in 2010.

The strong growth in VOSON users is shown in the figure below.  It is important to note that these are real people--we are not including the dozens of account requests we get each week from spammers and bots, which we never approve...

February 2013 - Robert Ackland gave a seminar presentation on "Social Media and the Network Structure of Social Capital" at the Social Policy Unit, School of Social Work and Human Services, University of Queensland.

July 2013 - As part of The Australian Sociological Association’s 50 Year Celebrations, Robert Ackland ran a master class for Masters and PhD students titled "Digital Methodologies: The next 50 years of research?" The master class was designed for Masters or PhD students who are thinking about or doing research drawing upon digitized methodologies, such as web based, social media and social network analysis. The day involved a workshop and feedback session alongside a panel discussion surrounding the ethic issues within the area as a new and emerging area of research. The master class was held on 7 July, and was hosted by the UNSW Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

July 2013 - Robert Ackland ran a five-day course on Social Media Analysis the ACSPRI Winter Program, University of Technology Sydney, 1-5 July 2013.  The course provides students with an introduction to social media analysis in the context of social research.  The course is designed for social researchers interested in social media, and covers methods of accessing and analysing digital trace data from websites, blogsites, Twitter and Facebook.  The same course is being offered as part of the ACSPRI Winter Program at University of Queensland, 7-11 July 2014.  Book here!

May 2013 - Mathieu O'Neil and Mahin Raissi gave presentations at the Sunbelt Social Networks Conference of the International Network for Social Network Analysis (INSNA) in Hamburg. Mahin presented on "Social Capital and Successful Ageing: Evidence from a Facebook Study" (joint with Robert Ackland) and Mathieu presented on "Competition and Influence amongst Online Environmental Social Movement Organisations" (joint with Robert Ackland).

May 2013 - Robert Ackland and Mahin Raissi gave seminar presentations at the Department of Communication, Radboud University Nijmegen.  Robert presented on his Twitter research and Mahin presented on her PhD research into social capital, social influence and successful ageing (using data from the AuSON Facebook application).  We are very thankful to Maurice Vergeer for organising the visit.