Figure 3 in Chen et al. 2021, Distribution of scholars and collaboration between continents
Delighted to have a new open source scoping review paper in New Media and Society led by PhD student Yan Chen, Using social media images as data in social science research. This paper is the result of one of her comprehensive exams and allows us to see some of the strengths and biases of this emerging practice. There is a distinctly English-language and small-data approach to these datasets, compared to ‘culturomics’ approaches emerging in conservation contexts, for instance, that use lots of machine learning approaches. There is also a chaos of approaches to ethics and copyright in the handling and use, characteristic of a method that has not yet matured and is subject to a constantly shifting context in terms of platforms and usage norms.
Supplemental figure from Jarić et al. 2020 in PLOS biology that disentangles the concepts of iEcology and Culturomics.
Thanks to writer Rob St. John for authoring a post on The Freshwater Blog about our new article in PLOS biology about iEcology and conservation culturomics for aquatic applications. I was happy to be featured in this post, and especially to have the opportunity to talk about my work with Yan Chen, former MES, current IDPhD and also paper co-author.
A re-thinking of the pre-dam Site C conceptual map from Yan Chen’s Masters thesis, as used in this paper, accompanied by Google Earth imagery of the Site C dam site near Fort St. John, BC, in 2012 and 2019 respectively.
Thanks to Ivan Jarić, from the Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences, for inviting Yan Chen and I onto this interesting new paper out in PLOS Biology today, Expanding conservation culturomics and iEcology from terrestrial to aquatic realms. This geographically and disciplinarily diverse writing team led to many rich conversations and debates as the manuscript took shape. The idea was to differentiate the emerging field of iEcology from conservation culturomics, and advocate for their application in aquatic realms which have a dearth of data. Our work on advancing social impact assessment of hydroelectricity and dyke realignment using Instagram datasets provided one of the six key areas of application outlined in this paper.
The second paper from Yan Chen’s MES thesis is now out in Society and Natural Resources, Leveraging social media to understand younger people’s perceptions and use of hydroelectric energy landscapes. It is a research note demonstrating the utility of manual coding and conceptual mapping of a year of Instagram images around two hydroelectricity sites to predict how changes might affect young residents. Unlike her first thesis paper in Landscape and Urban Planning, which carried out spatial mapping of value ‘hotspots’–a method widespread in today’s growing literature on cultural ecosystem services–this paper makes statistical links between features, activities and values conveyed through Instagram. The diagrams provide insight to the lifestyle and emotions associated with different landscape features, some changeable with hydro development or removal, and informs our new work on conservation culturomics for social impact assessment. Yan continues to drive this work as an IDPhD student. Congratulations, Yan.
Yan Chen presenting her IDPhD work at NSF-funded workshop in Singapore, January 28-29, 2019.
Yan Chen is wrapping up a few days in Singapore for the NSF-funded Research Coordination Network (RCN) in Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES) on Putting Sustainability into Convergence: Connecting Data, People, and Systems. This international workshop has been diverse in attendees and disciplines. Yan reflected, “The most discussed question is how people from different disciplines can collaborate. There are many scholars like me, as social scientists who are using sophisticated data analysis models; while others are engineers working on social issues. We both, at a certain degree, struggle in ‘cultural shocks’ between different disciplines.” It’s been a great opportunity for her to workshop with similarly cross-cutting folks. She described her session as discussing, “data sources, sizes, validity, sharing, proxies, and so on. …. [agreeing] that data or method cannot develop only on the technologies, but has to answer certain questions. For social scientists, finding a good mechanism of data sharing or archiving may be very useful. Also, how to cope with the rapidly developing technologies will be another challenge for us.” Thanks to SSHRC for supporting Yan’s trip, via Mike Smit’s Insight Grant, on which I’m a CI, Assessing the social impacts of hydroelectricity-driven landscape changing using text, images and archives: a Big Data approach.