This is a complex article that focused on the issues with gathering data in relation to the diversity of the STEM fields. The focus of the study was to attempt to use twitter to gather data on the issues that fall under a common aegis as the idea of diversity in STEM. The data was then broken down into categories such as geolocation, common phrases, tweet identities, and the influence each individual or company had on the overall study. This wasn’t a simple end stopped study, its data can be extrapolated for future uses.
This style of study is not one I have encountered before. Instead of using the scientific method to form a hypothesis, and then test said guess for results, the study instead focused on a more broad ideaology of asking if this method could work for future data gathering. The study identified the most frequent tweeters, who was retweeted the most, what was retweeted most, and why.
One key thing to note is that while 40% of original posts had a photo, 85% of the retweets were post with photos. This points to the idea that having an image to go with your idea sells. It is similar to branding. If the product looks bland, people will overlook it. Future studies might benefit in increased feed back through the usage of images and visuals to gain the attention of the masses.
I was not surprised by the location spread of the study, where most posts originated in the US, Canada, or Europe, with the US sub focusing on the East or West Coasts. As the original study was initiated in English, it stands to reason that a majority of the tweeters would use English at least semi-regularly. The east and est coast spread is also understandable, as much of the country’s manufacturing capabilities are on coasts, where more engineers are employed.
Overall, this study is a bit challenging to parse out. The focus on the results of on the viability of using social media to gather data on stem diversity. This could be accomplished, if the internet decides to behave itself. What I mean by this is that certain people will go out of their way to “troll” campaigns such as these. Intentionally trying to skew results or just get a laugh. Take the poll produced by NERC to name one of its research vessels from a few years ago. The results were overwhelmingly in favor of “Boaty McBoatface”, a rather silly name, which was rejected in regards to the mothership, but latter was used for a submersible on the ship. This lighthearted laugh is the result of people taking a serious matter in a less than serious manner. Applying this to future studies, if people get it in their ind to make a joke of the research, the entire study could result in a need of a restart, a costly and labor intensive process that could still end up being sabotaged in the end.
Overall, the idea to use social media as an official tool for study is a novel one, but it can easily be led awry by overzealous trolls seeking attention.