Sunday, September 14, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

What is social media telling scientists about us?

By
From page A10 | November 10, 2013 |

By Lee Bowman

All those postings, tweets, Flickr uploads and other social media interactions we have every day add up to a wealth of opportunity for scientists. Simply by inhabiting our digital haunts, observers can learn volumes about how we feel, determine where it’s safe to eat, even plot the passing of a storm.

Often, gathering the intelligence doesn’t even require an app. Recent innovations range from deliberate crowdsourcing to sweeping but incidental gathering and plotting. Here are some of the approaches reported in recent studies.

Tweets for safe eats: Scientists at the University of Rochester found that by analyzing tweets from New York City diners, they could figure out how likely you were to contract food poisoning if you patronized a particular restaurant.

Over a four-month period, they collected 3.8 million tweets from more than 94,000 unique users, traced 23,000 restaurant visitors and found 480 reports of likely food poisoning.

They also noted the tweeting matched somewhat well with public inspections reported by the health department — about a third of the inspection failures could be reliably predicted from Twitter data. The remaining scores show some disagreement, but the researchers argue that the tweets may have detected foodborne illness that restaurant inspectors might not.

The research, being presented this week at the Conference on Human Computation and Crowdsourcing in Palm Springs, Calif., suggests tweets might offer another approach to food-safety monitoring.

Texting from your happy spot: Researchers at Princeton University designed a multinational project using mobile phones to measure happiness. They used geo-location to track 270 volunteers in 13 nations. They designed an app that, over three weeks, periodically asked: “How happy are you?” with answers on a scale of zero to 5.

The idea, researchers said, was not so much about defining the source of happiness as proving a concept: that mobile phones might better capture feelings “in the moment” than phone or in-person surveys. The team found that men tended to describe themselves as less happy when they were farther from home; distance from home didn’t seem to matter to women in the study, reported in the journal Demography in June.

What Facebook phrasing says about users: Words and phrases such as “party,” “great night” and “hit me up” were among the expressions that marked extroverts, University of Pennsylvania researchers found in analyzing language used by 75,000 Facebook users who’d completed a personality questionnaire. Researchers’ computer models used word clouds or clusters to predict age, sex and, to some extent, personality profiles. They correctly predicted gender 92 percent of the time; they could estimate ages within three years of the correct number more than half of the time. Their findings appeared in the journal PLOS One in September.

Photo-sharing up a storm: Another recent study tapped the photo-sharing site Flickr track the passage of Hurricane Sandy in late October 2012.

Research published in Scientific Reports Nov. 5 showed a strong connection between images related to Hurricane Sandy posted on Flickr and the dropping atmospheric pressure that marked the superstorm’s arrival over New Jersey last year.

Researchers at the Warwick Business School in Britain and several other institutions looked at all photos tagged “Hurricane Sandy” “hurricane” or “Sandy” between Oct 20 and Nov. 20, 2012. They found the highest number of pictures were posted in the same hour that Sandy made landfall (Oct. 29) and pressure dropped. Photos tailed off as the storm moved inland and atmospheric pressure rose.

Researchers said the tight correlation between postings and air pressure could be useful in tracking the path and intensity of a storm, particularly where instruments are scarce.

Photos posted on Facebook were used by University of Georgia researchers to study how debris from a Southern tornado outbreak in 2011 was blown hundreds of miles away. The study involved nearly 1,000 photos, documents and other items from destroyed homes catalogued and posted on the website by an Alabama volunteer and later identified by family members.

Gaining understanding about how tornados move debris could help scientists improve warnings and plot risks if a storm struck a site that contains hazardous material, for instance. The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society published the report last spring.

Similarly, scientists at Mississippi State University and other schools solicited tweeted images of damage to storm shelters, safe rooms and newer homes around Moore, Okla., during an E5 (most intense) tornado May 20, as part of an effort to improve the safety of shelters and homes.

— Contact Scripps health and science writer Lee Bowman at BowmanL@shns.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.shns.com.

Comments

comments

Scripps Howard News Service

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Well levels drop around the county as drought presses on

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Snyder pleads no contest in UCD explosives case

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

    Psychologist casts doubt on Marsh insanity defense

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Looking for a few good residents

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Try yoga, meditation at Holistic Health Center

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    Sign up now for free Community Yard Sale

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Friday night robbery leads to arrests, dog bite

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A2

     
    Bob Dunning: Now the weather nut is all grown up

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

    Video shows slaying of British aid worker

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    West Nile virus holds strong in Davis area

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Davis Neighbors’ Night Out brings residents together

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Saylor meets constituents at Peet’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Hawaiian Luau set at Covell Gardens

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Portuguese breakfast set in Woodland

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Youths can learn from DHS cheerleaders

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Logos plans four events for October

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    White, Gaard will lead Yolo Superior Court in 2015-16

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Fourth annual Capay Crush celebrates farm life

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Climate change rally planned in Central Park

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Downtown history tour planned in October

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Gibson House hosts plant sale and workshop

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Farmers Market sets Fall Festival

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Memorial playground approaches goal

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

    Renée Thompson to discuss her novel for Woodland Reads project

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Day of the Dead altar makers sought

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    MCCC will present justice awards at luncheon

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    New class offers parenting strategies

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Genealogy club presents virtual tour of local resource

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    University Farm Circle reaches out to newcomers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Garden doctor: Our trees are getting thirsty

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    Public invited to 2014 Yolo Aging Summit

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    .

    Forum

    Preventing RSV infections in our kids

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    She’s getting all the blame

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    The sacrificial lamb on the altar of denial

    By Debra DeAngelo | From Page: A5

     
    They don’t want him around

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A5

    Unexpected treasures from the summer

    By Marion Franck | From Page: A5

     
    A bad vote for our water

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

    Bloggers, beware: They might be out to get you

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A12

     
    Bob Englehart cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A12

    Davis has options on innovation

    By Our View | From Page: A12

     
    Archer has worked hard for us

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

    Is history repeating itself?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

     
    Time for a progressive PD

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

    Speak out

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A13

     
    .

    Sports

    No more FBS, but UCD’s tough schedule continues

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    DHS boys get a nice win with two big games looming

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Vintage pounds DHS on the ground

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Aggie offense is there, but UCD can’t stop Rams

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Unlikely hero powers Republic in playoff opener

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    JV Blue Devils drop a high-scoring affair

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B3

    UCD roundup: Dons do just enough to edge Aggie women

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B4 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: Blue Devils net a tournament win at home

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

    Baseball roundup: A’s get a much-needed win in Seattle

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    Apply now for Davis Community Idol

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    .

    Business

    Nugget Markets’ cheese specialists achieve certified professional status

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Talks continue for proposed Old Soul site

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A9

    Yolo County real estate sales

    By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A9

     
    University lights way for hospital energy savings

    By Kat Kerlin | From Page: A14 | Gallery

    Davis leaders celebrate Engage3′s advances

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A14 | Gallery

     
    Doby Fleeman: The opportunity is ours

    By Doby Fleeman | From Page: A14

    .

    Obituaries

    Virnelle Triebsch

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, September 14, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B8