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Aug. 6, 2018

The identification of proper names of people, organizations, and locations from raw texts, referred to as Named Entity Recognition (NER), can be highly accurate when researchers use NER tools on a large collection of text with proper syntax. However, using existing NER tools for analyzing social media text can lead to poor identification of named entities. In particular, Twitter text frequently includes inconsistent capitalization, spelling errors, and shortened versions of words.

TwitterNER, an open-source tool developed by doctoral student Shubhanshu Mishra, who is supervised by Assistant Professor Jana Diesner, can help researchers interested in performing NER on social media text. TwitterNER has recently been shown (in an independent evaluation by Humangeo) to perform better in terms of precision than some other publicly...

Jul. 3, 2018

Doctoral student Shubhanshu Mishra will present his research at the 29th ACM Conference on Hypertext and Social Media, which will be held July 9-12 in Baltimore, Maryland. The conference will focus on the role of links, linking, hypertext, and hyperlink theory on the web and beyond.

Mishra will give the talk, "Detecting the correlation between sentiment and user-level as well as text-level meta-data from benchmark corpora," which he coauthored with Assistant Professor Jana Diesner. Their study examined whether users with similar Twitter characteristics have similar sentiments and what meta-data features of tweets and users correlate with tweet sentiment. 

From the abstract: We address these two questions by analyzing six popular benchmark datasets where tweets are annotated with sentiment labels. We consider user-level as well as tweet-...

Apr. 17, 2018

Assistant Professor Jana Diesner is the program co-chair of the 3rd International Workshop on Social Sensing (SocialSens 2018). The workshop will be held on April 17 in Orlando, in conjunction with the ACM/IEEE International Conference on Internet of Things Design and Implementation (IoTDI 2018).

SocialSens 2018 will bring together researchers and engineers from academia, industry, and government to present recent advances in social sensing, as described on the website:

Social sensing has emerged as a new paradigm for collecting sensory measurements by means of "crowd-sourcing" sensory data collection tasks to a human population. Humans can act as sensor carriers (e.g., carrying GPS devices that share location data), sensor operators (e.g., taking pictures with smart phones), or as sensors themselves (e.g., sharing their observations on Twitter). The proliferation of...

Aug. 8, 2017

A project led by iSchool Professor Les Gasser, "Simulating Social Systems at Scale (SSS)," has laid the groundwork for a prestigious award to a student researcher. Santiago Núñez-Corrales, an Informatics PhD student directed by Gasser, was recently chosen from among several hundred applicants to receive an ACM SIGHPC/Intel Computational & Data Science Fellowship, worth $15,000 per year for at least three years. 

Gasser's SSS project, which earned a 2016-2017 Faculty Fellowship from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), demonstrates new approaches to building very large computer models of social phenomena such as social change, the emergence of organizations, and the evolution of language and information. The project also explores new ways of connecting "live" social data to running simulations and new ways of visualizing social processes.

Núñez-Corrales is working on multidisciplinary problems in the project with three elements: (1)...

May. 11, 2017

The App Authors project has been underway for over a year now, bringing kids and technology together to create apps through a child-centered curriculum at Kenwood Elementary and the Douglass Branch of the Champaign Public Library. The program, developed by the iSchool's Center for Children's Books (CCB), provides kids with varying levels of experience the opportunity to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. App Authors is now expanding its reach, working at sites in Maryland and Oregon as well as remaining in Champaign. 

"We're excited about expanding our reach this year," said Deborah Stevenson, PI of the project and director of the CCB. "Our partnerships with the Frederick County Public Libraries in Maryland and the...

Feb. 28, 2017
Doctoral student Melissa Hahn helps a Kenwood Elementary School student build an app. (Photo by L. Brian Stauffer)

Students at Kenwood Elementary School in Champaign are building their own phone apps. Some hope their apps will help solve big problems, such as curbing pollution or money management. Others will let users fight monsters that are trying to take over the world, or let users design a look for their nails.

Through an after-school program called App Authors, the students are getting an idea of what the career of a software designer might be like, as well as gaining experience in coding and learning to work as a team to solve problems.

The program was designed by researchers at the iSchool. The goal is to get students – especially those with limited access to technology...

Jul. 8, 2016

At the same time that humanity shifts toward digital ways of living and working, the proportion of senior citizens among the world's population is growing. Rejecting the idea that aging is just a matter of declining minds and bodies, iSchool doctoral candidate Noah Lenstra (MS '09, CAS '11) has explored digital literacy among older adults in Champaign-Urbana using information infrastructure theory and the extended case method.

For his dissertation research, Lenstra conducted one year of participant observation in senior centers and public libraries. This included two hundred and sixty-seven computer help sessions with two hundred and nine seniors; interviews with seniors and staff; and examination of institutional documents. Throughout this study he practiced the reciprocal research method.

Reciprocal research, devised in the Community Informatics Research Lab, entails providing service as you collect data and reporting findings back to community partners. Lenstra's...