Capturing the Ephemeral: Collecting Social Media and Supporting Twitter Research with Social Feed Manager

Daniel Chudnov
Director, Scholarly Technology, Libraries
George Washington University

Bergis Jules
University Archivist
George Washington University

Daniel Kerchner
Senior Software Developer, Libraries
George Washington University

Laura Wrubel
E-Resources Content Manager, Libraries
George Washington University

In 2012 George Washington University Libraries started collecting social media data from Twitter. The process began in direct response to researcher needs: social sciences professors were analyzing how major media organizations use Twitter and how congressional representatives interact with their constituencies, collecting tweets through painstaking manual processes that did not scale and slowed down research progress dramatically. To simplify their process, staff developed Social Feed Manager, a free and open source Web application that collects data from multiple Twitter accounts using the free Twitter API. The application makes the data easily downloadable by researchers and usable in their analysis tool of choice. Millions of tweets from over 1,200 accounts have been collected using Social Feed Manager, in support of multiple research projects and classroom teaching. In addition, working closely with the University Archivist, tweets are being collected from over 300 accounts from university departments, schools, offices, and student groups, in service of preserving the records of the university.

In 2013 the project was awarded an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Sparks! grant to improve the application so that it might be easily installed and used at other cultural memory organizations. The grant will support a meeting in December 2013, gathering interested peers from other CNI and Association of Research Libraries (ARL) institutions to determine priorities for future development. The presentation will include lessons learned so far about building social media collections and establishing a program in support of researchers and special collections/university archives. It will also include a demonstration of the Social Feed Manager application and a description of where the development team plans to focus future improvements in support of emerging areas of research.



Last updated:  Tuesday, February 25th, 2014