Landscapes - People - Global change

Tag: culturomics (Page 1 of 3)

New paper: social media methods for SIA

Synthesis figure in the new Current Sociology paper showing sample workflows within a range of possibilities.

This week a new open access paper came out in a special issue (monograph) of Current Sociology about Social Impact Assessment. The special issue was led by Guadalupe Ortiz and Antonio Aledo, and their introductory essay is worth a read, as is Frank Vanclay’s epilogue, reflecting on 50 years of SIA and asking “is it still fit for purpose?”. Our offering, Social media and social impact assessment: Evolving methods in a shifting context, reflects on a decade of research using mostly Instagram to understand the social impacts of developments such as hydroelectricity, wind energy and coastal dyke realignment. The above demonstrates the current state of the art in terms of workflows, and shows how several of our studies have navigated those options. The paper also talks about the challenges, practical and ethical, of using social media datasets, and calls for government support in securing ongoing access for the purposes of public good research, a topic also recently argued by Ethan Zuckerman in Prospect Magazine. Most of the work synthesized in this paper has been published elsewhere, except the brilliant work that Mehrnoosh Mohammadi did on developing a collage approach to communicating common features in social media images to protect both copyright and privacy concerns (see below). This is a method we advocated back in 2017 and it is wonderful to see it in action.

A collage by Mehrnoosh Mohammadi of 16 photos captured in NS vineyards and posted on Instagram, showing seasonal change from left to right.

IASNR Conference 2023

Rich Stedman, me (jet lagged, straight from the plane), and Chris Raymond at the welcome mixer.

After the PECS working group meeting in South Africa I flew directly to Portland, Maine, for the 2023 IASNR Conference. IASNR is my primary professional organization and I currently serve on its Council, so that adds an additional layer of busyness during the conference. It was particularly nice to be there with a team: postdoc Brooke McWherter, PhD student Keahna Margeson and MES Emily Snair all came along.

Co-leading the New Member’s Meeting with Bill Stewart.

The New Member’s Meeting I co-ran as part of my role as Chair of the Membership Committee was better attended than any I’ve ever seen – we were running to other rooms to steal chairs. Despite the size, we ended up having an excellent conversation about what brings people to IASNR and what it can offer.

On the first day of presentations, I was part of a panel about publishing with Society and Natural Resources and the SNR Book Series. It was exciting to be able to share the news that the external reviews are back for the decennial review of the field that I am lead co-editing with Gladman Thondhlana and Douglas Jackson-Smith and that we submitted in late January. The reviews are very supportive and we are busily doing final changes to the manuscript so that it can be published in time for the 30th IASNR next year in Cairns, Australia.

Emily Snair presenting her proposal poster

That evening at the poster session, Emily presented her proposal work that is currently undergoing research ethics review, including to some kids attending the event with their academic Mom. I also ‘won’ the big ticket item in the silent auction, a bunch of Moomin swag Chris Raymond brought from Helsinki!

Me, Emily, Jen and Elson at our ResNet panel

On day two, we held a super panel on ResNet Landscape 1 featuring Emily Wells (virtually) on Indigenous values, Jen Holzer (Brock) on collaborative networks and Elson Galang (McGill) on scenario planning. It was well attended and generated some good discussions. Keahna Margeson also presented the results of her first comprehensive exam on social license for ocean and coastal management. Brooke also co-ran a session on research ethics in diverse contexts as part of her work on the Ethics Committee of IASNR. The day concluded with a lobster bake at Peaks Island with a very mausy and foggy ferry crossing.

Day three was a bit more restful. At the lunchtime IASNR All Member’s Meeting where I got to award the second Bridgebuilder Award to Emily Huff, again as part of my role as Membership Committee chair. That evening, Keahna ran the Quizbowl as part of her role as Student Representative Elect, and afterward we had an informal Canadian Caucus meeting at the kooky little AirBnB row house I was sharing with some of my team.

Canadian kitchen party in the AirBnB, including Emily, Jen, Ben, John, Brooke and Keahna.

On day four, I presented on the landscape culturomics work of my team, synthesizing a few recent works to advocate for a government role in ensuring researcher access to social media data for research with public good purposes. Brooke also presented some preliminary research on livestock farmers and systems thinking based on participants of the Advanced Grazing Systems (AGS) farmer mentorship program she is studying in her postdoc. The next day we spent driving back to Halifax by way of the NB farm of AGS-collaborator Cedric MacLeod where we got to see him moving his cattle to a rich new pasture. Brooke was a hero doing that big drive all in one day and I was very grateful to get back to my family after two weeks.

Happy cow on fresh pasture

New culturomics paper mapping CES using Instagram

Figure 2 process flowchart of the new Zhao et al. paper in Marine Policy

Another nice lab output this week in Marine Policy led by Qiqi Zhao, a China Scholarship Council visiting PhD student in my lab last year, including a bunch of other lab-affiliated students as co-authors: Modelling cultural ecosystem services in agricultural dykelands and tidal wetlands to inform coastal infrastructure decisions: a social media data approach. It is a bit of a companion piece to the Chen et al (2020) piece in Ocean and Coastal Management, as it uses the same Instagram dataset collected for every dykeland area in Nova Scotia back in 2018, but in a very different way. Chen et al. took a very qualitative ‘small data’ approach to the dataset, analyzing the photographs (and accounts) only of posts that included the words dyke*/dike*/wetland/marsh in the captions. Zhao et al. used a ‘big data’ text mining approach, extracting and associating bi-grams (two-word strings) from geolocated post captions to particular cultural ecosystem services (CES), modelling those CES using SolVES and comparing (as with Chen et al.) dykeland and wetland services. Whereas Chen et al. only found direct mentions of freshwater marshes (specifically Miner’s Marsh), in Zhao et al. we leveraged the coordinates to locate those geolocated to tidal wetland sites.  This will help us better understand the tradeoffs associated with climate change-driven adaptations of the dykeland system in the Bay of Fundy, the focus of NSERC ResNet Landscape 1.

New review paper: using social media images in social science

Figure 3 in Chen et al. 2021, Distribution of scholars and collaboration between continents

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.


Coverage on The Freshwater Blog

Supplemental figure from Jaric et al. 2020 in PLOS biology that disentangles the concepts of iEcology and Culturomics.

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.

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