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Topical conversation patterns around the Boston Bombing on Reddit Link to final visual presentation:

RQs: How has the conversation on Reddit about the Boston Bombings changed over time?
(Self-referentiality) Are there specific traits related to the controversy that can be identified?
(topical dynamics)

3 Time Periods of event
- what happened? (15.4 - 16.4)
- who did it? (16.4 - 18.4)
- find them! (18.4 ...) Boston - what happened?

[Figure 1] - Word cloud "What happened" NEWS Cambridge - who did it?

[Figure 2] - Word cloud 2 "Who did it?" SUSPECT

[Figure 3] - Number of Comments / Day 15 April - 19 April 2013

[Figure 4] - Number of Comments Per Post / Day 15 April - 19 April 2013

[Figure 5] Number of Comments vs Score (Reddit)

[Figure 6] Volume of Comments over time 15 April - 19 April 2013

[Figure 7] - Inverse ratio upvotes/downvotes over time. What: Shows trend in the beginning when bombing happened Reddit posts had relatively high percentage of upvotes AND low percentage of downvotes. As the week goes on a significant overall increase of downvotes on posts is displayed.

Overall FINDINGS: Reddit is a news aggregator site, but is most active when the information feedback cycle doesn't exit the platform itself, (i.e. when the sources are mainly from reddit) Attention span of Reddit posts only lasts as long as there can be explicit Redditor influence over the course of the event

Background Information (first case of misidentifying somebody in r/WTF subreddit)

METHODS Reddit API data obtained on 3/7/13 at 2:00pm search keywords (5) boston marathon boston bombing boston bomber boston suspect sunil tripathi How Python script (Reddit API) CSV file downloaded / imported into Excel and R for analysis Data set 1217 comments Only can output timeline up to 230 list items, still need scatterplot 15/4 to 18/4 URLs 1217 URLs; Domains entered into Tag Cloud Generator to find number of total links Dorling tool to map “bubbles”

GRAPHS: Username vs URL (domain) vs time What to map: - hyperlinks in Reddit posts to see what sources are being linked to - looking at influence of key contributors vs. a composite of individual ones - Using wordclouds to visualize what is spoken about more and looking at this over a time period 2 timeperiods: news re: to bombings (15 April), and the investigation (who did it) and after the capture.


1. What happened? (15 April)

2. Who are they? (17 April)

3. Catch them!

PREVAILING NARATIVES: Three themes for each thread/time period: Thread 1: Best (Searching for family members) Thread 1: Controversial (terrorism?) *Thread 2: Best (donation scams) Thread 2: Controversial (inside job?) Thread 3: Best (crowd sourcing to find suspects) Thread 3: Controversial (Terrorism speculation again?) Thread 4: Best (official statement Thread 4: Controversial (saudi national narrative) Thread 5: Best (problems with crowd sourcing to find suspects) Thread 5: Controversial Comments count: 2183 Top best: Top controversial (essence): Possibility of (more) (un)justified hatred against Muslims Thread 7 Comments: 1053 Best: Controversial: Thread 8 Comments: 1794 Best: Controversial: Thread 9 Comments: 877 Best: Controversial: Thread 10 Comments: 962 Best: Controversial.

TIMELINE OF KEY EVENTS: (as documented by CNN) [all times in EST] - Monday April 15, 2013 at 2:49pm: Both bombs go off within about 10-20 seconds - Thursday April 18 at 5:00pm: The FBI releases pictures of two male suspects being sought in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings. - Thursday April 18 at 11 p.m. Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, 26, is shot dead on the school's Cambridge, Massachusetts, campus - Friday, April 19 early hours Tamerlan Tsarnaev dies after the gunfight, while his brother eludes authorities.During the rest of the day Watertown is in lockdown and police go door to door - Friday, April 19 between 6-9pm: After the lockdown is lifted, a resident goes outside to check on his boat parked in the backyard and notices blood inside. His tip leads to a large-scale law enforcement effort that culminates with the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

RELATED NEWS ARTICLES "Reddit vs the media"

-- JonathanAlbright - 10 Jul 2013
Topic revision: r1 - 10 Jul 2013, JonathanAlbright
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