University brings human intellect and technology together to solve social media puzzle

uComp project running out of Modul University in Austria aims to extract complex and unstructured data from social media noise and interpret it in a robust, accurate and scalable way - and in real time

A team of university researchers in Austria are pooling human intelligence and cutting-edge data mining technology in a bid to solve the puzzle of understanding social media and online-based consumer sentiments accurately.

The uComp research project at the Modul University in Vienna, aims to extract complex, unstructured and often contradictory knowledge from social media engagement, along with other noisy and multilingual online data sets, and interpret it in a robust, accurate and scalable way. It plans to achieve this by combining newly created automated knowledge extraction software tools with the “wisdom of the crowds”.

In June, the uComp project announced an open source-based extensible Web Retrieval Toolkit (eWRT), which captures data from different public sources such as social media information, and accurately identifies gathered information items using language recognition. It also claims to promote a transparent approach to analysing data from social media platforms.

The new tool also supports text acquisition, detection of phonetic similarities, as well as standardised integration and archiving of captured information. Additional functions include the ability to archive large volumes of data, as well as manage and normalise relevant metadata.

"Millions of people express their opinions using social media, but with conventional methods we are unable to determine the collective mood expressed in social media in real time,” the head of Modul University’s New Media Technology department and project technical director, professor Arno Scharl, said.

“We do not know which aspects move people, mobilise people or stimulate their thoughts. The technologies from the uComp project provide us with better ways to capture opinions on a global basis, irrespective of language barriers, national borders and cultural differences."

Unlike traditionally structured databases such as libraries or large corporate archives, online information is fragmented and disordered, which makes it difficult to extract knowledge automatically, the university professor explained. Social media makes it even more complicated because it is difficult to determine the specific context of a posting, while the use of slang, dialects or foreign words challenges existing tools for text analysis.

The eWRT software package has its roots in another Austrian research project called Divine, which looks at aspects of dynamic information integration and visualisation. In addition, the research is also working off emerging research findings in Embedded Human Computation, which aims to integrate and advance human and machine computation research.

According to the uComp website, EHC goes beyond mere data collection and embeds human computation into adaptive knowledge extraction workflows. The project aims to provide a scalable and generic HC framework for knowledge extraction and evaluation, delegating the most difficult tasks to large communities of users and continuously learning from their feedback to optimise automated methods.

Although uComp’s work is generic, the team’s main focus is on climate change because of the complex data sets and often conflicting interpretations. It is now collaborating with a range of international bodies including the European Environment Agency, and the NASA Earth Observatory.

The uComp project is being funded by the Austrian Science Fund and is supported by the UK’s University of Sheffield, France’s Laboratoire d'Informatique pour la Mécanique et les Sciences de l'Ingénieur and the Vienna University of Economics and Business and Modul University Vienna.

Over the next two-and-a-half years, the uComp team plans to focus on human analysis and validating data gathered with the new eWRT tool. Professor Scharl also claimed the work is entering “unknown digital territory” by integrating the ‘games with a purpose’ approach into its framework to identify complex knowledge patterns.

The ‘games with a purpose’ approach has already been used in EHC research and includes using online games for classifying documents or for evaluating automatic translations.

"We are currently investigating ways of engaging people and providing incentives for participants to share their knowledge,” professor Scharl said. “At the same time we need to evaluate the reliability of their contributions, prevent manipulation and assess the quality of results.

“The uComp project will advance the state of the art by offering all these capabilities in an integrated, reusable framework."

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia

More social media innovation

Signup to CMO’s new email newsletter to receive your weekly dose of targeted content for the modern marketing chief.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

How challenger brands can win at biddable media

Challenger brands, especially in highly competitive markets, generally can’t match established players for media spend.

Chris Pittham

Managing director, Jaywing

The competitive advantage Australian retailers have over Amazon

With all of the hype around Amazon, many online retailers have been trying to understand how they can compete with the American retail giant.

Joel Milligan

Performance manager, Columbus Agency

How to become the customer experience custodian

The number one objective enterprises give for embarking on a digital transformation is to improve customer experiences with new engagement models, according to IDC’s 2017 global study.

Insightful article from an AdTech perspective

Mehdi Partika

Predictions 2018: 5 ways the CMO role will change

Read more

Sounds like a bunch of convoluted business bullshit with no real substance or value. Business people deluding themselves into thinking th...

Bupa Customer

Best CX Companies List profiles: Bupa's Voice of the Customer project

Read more

This partnership seems to bring a lot of benefits.

Uk Driver

Deloitte announces new agency partnership to expand digital reality capabilities

Read more

It's all about the experience and it seems that understanding is finally full tilt!

Danny Mack

Building a robust digital customer experience

Read more

I am going to visit Australia))) nice place ... one of the most attractive

Carly Julia

Tourism Australia aims for youth travel market with dedicated news channel

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in