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Semiotic analysis of online conversations

Copyright 2016 (Ximena Tobi).

WHERE I COME FROM: MEDIA SEMIOTICS IN ARGENTINA

Oscar Steimberg

Jos Luis Fernndez

Eliseo Vern

Copyright 2016 (Ximena Tobi).

THE PROJECT: ACTION - RESEARCH

Copyright 2016 (Ximena Tobi).

EXPLORING THE
UNKNOWN?
EXPLORING
THE
UNKNOWN?
How to articulate semiotics and big data?
How to build a corpus of analysis given the extension
and dynamic nature of online conversations?

Hipermediaciones - Ca
rlo

s Scolari - 2012

Steve
RW Connect

- Paul Bouissac
Semioticon.com

Verba - 2015

- 2008
Copyright 2016 (Ximena Tobi).

EXPLORING THE UNKNOWN?

This is a world where massive amounts of data and applied mathematics replace every
other tool that might be brought to bear. Out with every theory of human behavior,
from linguistics to sociology. Forget taxonomy, ontology, and psychology. Who
knows why people do what they do? The point is they do it, and we can track and
measure it with unprecedented fidelity. With enough data, the numbers speak for
themselves. (Chris Anderson, Wired, 2008)
Copyright 2016 (Ximena Tobi).

FROM DATA TO BIG DATA

Big Data is not because of its size, but because of its relationality to other data.

Copyright 2016 (Ximena Tobi).

FROM DATA TO BIG DATA

All researchers are interpreters of data () as soon as a researcher seeks to


understand what it means, the process of interpretation has begun. The design
decisions that determine what will be measured also stem from interpretation.

Copyright 2016 (Ximena Tobi).

FROM DATA TO BIG DATA

Big Data is at its most effective when researchers take account of the complex
methodological processes that underlie the analysis of social data.

Copyright 2016 (Ximena Tobi).

FROM DATA TO BIG DATA

When researchers approach a dataset, they need to understand and publicly


account for not only the limits of the dataset, but also the limits of which
questions they can ask of a dataset.

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DATA SCRAPING

Technical kwowledge required

!!

To define parameters, variables and attributes that will be measured.

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ORGANISING DATA

Organise data to manipulate it.


Filtering / cleaning data.

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VISUALISING DATA

Finding patterns of repetition, correlation, frequency.


Visualise is the only way to find patterns within a big data set.

Copyright 2016 (Ximena Tobi).

TOWARD A SEMIOTIC MATRIX


Methodological decisions: the frame of data interpretation
From outer /
macro level

1) Structure of the communication scene

2) Conversational dynamic

3) Discourse analysis
To inner /
micro level

Copyright 2016 (Ximena Tobi).

1) STRUCTURE OF THE COMMUNICATION SCENE


How is the space where conversations take place: FB GROUP INTERFACE.
How many people is chatting: MEMBERS OF THE FB GROUP

Interface analysis
variables:
-Graphic design
-Hipertextuality
-Multimediality

Members analysis
variables:
-Total amount of
members
- Levels of activity

Copyright 2016 (Ximena Tobi).

2) CONVERSATIONAL DYNAMIC
Conversation is not only communication
Two constitutive dimensions: speech + interaction between members.
Speech variables:
-Genres in use
-Administration style
-Updating flow

Interaction variables:
-Interaction rate
-Interaction rate in relation to
genres in use.
-Use and functionality.

Example 1:
Query about a lost
valuable object that
she found.

Many (60) comments


over the first 24 hours

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2) CONVERSATIONAL DYNAMIC

Example 2:
Announcements.
- Invitation to a party
- Call for papers or other academic activities

No comments and quite a few


likes.
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2) CONVERSATIONAL DYNAMIC

Example 3:
A political provocation
Generates a debate: many long
comments with statements
+
Many reactions (not only likes)

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3) DISCOURSE ANALYSIS
In the frame of the flow of conversational dynamic,
each post with its comments is the unit of analysis.
Discourse analysis variables:
- Style & expression
- Values & beliefs
- Tone of voice

Copyright 2016 (Ximena Tobi).

3) DISCOURSE ANALYSIS - THE POST

Hi guys! Ive just found a valuable object at the


university! He/she who asks for it, write to me
and I will get it back to you!!!

Style & expression: empathic short notice. Shes trying to help


her mates.
Values & beliefs:
- Integrity, solidarity, fellowship
- Protection of private property
Tone of voice: peer and caring (hi guys), but also unclear (a
valuable object)

Copyright 2016 (Ximena Tobi).

3) DISCOURSE ANALYSIS - THE COMMENTS


Style & expression: quotes of authors

Style & expression: answer of a quiz

I have spent some


years writing a theory
of value, that youve
just mentioned, and I
conclude that youve
found a travel card
(SUBE)

Styles & expression: photos as comment or


illustration.

It may be a kilogram of
bread, a liter of petrol
or a kilowatt of
electricity

Values & beliefs:


the value of
things is
distorted by
inflation.

A toilet paper roll at


the second floor
bathroom?

Values &
beliefs: lack of
basic
resources at
the university

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CONCLUSION

From the MATRIX

To the KEYWORDS

Determined by the RESEARCH OBJECTIVE

What to look for


-Questions (conversation opener)

What to filter
-

Dates (since events are not relevant


to the community)

- Vocatives (guys, people)


-Greetings (hi, good morning)

Copyright 2016 (Ximena Tobi).

TAKE AWAYS
The debate about the articulation of semiotics & big data is just
beginning. It is a vacant area where we have a lot to contribute to.
Big data is not only about the size of data, but about how some data is
related to other data.
Data does not talk by itself. The core issue is the interpretative
parameters researchers design and
as semioticians we are interpretation experts.

Copyright 2016 (Ximena Tobi).

Thank you!
Gracias!
Tnan!
Ximena Tobi
ximena@semioticastudio.com

Special thanks to:


Mauro Miranda
Mauro Battistini
Richard Robinson
Gabriela Pedranti

at
Copyright 2016 (Ximena Tobi).
Licensed under the Creative Commons
Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives (by-nc-nd)