Team COSMOSA group of University of Arkansas at Little Rock students has won the Best Paper Award from the International Academy, Research, and Industry Association (IARIA) for their paper studying blogs’ effect on the information flow of Venezuelan migration.

Esther Mead, a doctoral student from Sheridan researching information science and information quality, was the lead author for the paper, “Assessing Situation Awareness through Blogosphere: A Case Study on Venezuelan Socio-Political Crisis and the Migrant Influx.”

The paper explored how blogs disseminate information regarding social and political views and concerns of citizens within a community. As a case study, the researchers examined nearly 30,000 blog posts from a Venezuelan community collected between August 2003 to March 2017 to determine if Venezuelan blogs were indeed discussing concerns in the region and possible migration due to these concerns.

“This paper establishes the basis for using blog analysis for studying socio-political awareness, presenting the Venezuelan economic crisis as an example,” Mead said. “ Our decision to write this paper was sparked by our motivation to highlight the blogosphere as a legitimate starting point for extracting social media data for discovering trends and valuable insights about populations.”

The analysis revealed that the frequency and content of posts change over time, reflecting changes in the socio-political landscape of the region, such as protests, the decline in quality of life factors like food and medicine, and interest in migration from Venezuela, Mead said.

“This paper sets the stage for future work using Blogtrackers and other natural language processing tools and techniques for blog analysis as a possible approach for anticipating events, like protests, migration, and refugee scenarios,” Mead said. “This information can provide actionable insights to emergency responders, humanitarian assistance organizations, and policy and decision makers.”

All of the paper’s co-authors are members of the UA Little Rock Collaboratorium for Social Media and Online Behavioral Studies (COSMOS), led by Dr. Nitin Agarwal, Maulden-Entergy Chair and Distinguished Professor in the Department of Information Science.

Co-authors include Agarwal, Muhammad Nihal Hussain, doctoral student from Hyderabad, India, studying computer and information science; Mohammad Shiblee Nooman, master’s student from Dhaka, Bangladesh, majoring in information quality; and Samer Al-khateeb, doctoral student from Baghdad, Iraq, studying computer and information science.

The paper was presented at the Seventh International Conference on Social Media Technologies, Communication, and Informatics held Oct. 8-12 in Athens, Greece. This is the third year in a row that a researcher from COSMOS has won the Best Paper Award from an IARIA conference.

The research is funded in part by the U.S. National Science Foundation, U.S. Office of Naval Research, U.S. Air Force Research Lab, U.S. Army Research Office, U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Jerry L. Maulden/Entergy Fund at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

written by Angelita Faller