Great to speak at PubhD Sheffield

I had the pleasure to speak at a PubhD event in Sheffield this week. The concept is to use a whiteboard and a marker pen to explain your research in 10 minutes, followed by 20 minutes of questions. In exchange for speaking you receive a free drink, and I had a pint of diet coke. The event is a great way to test out your public speaking and engagement skills. and as a delegate it is a fantastic opportunity to learn something new.

I saw on the PubhD Sheffield Facebook page that a speaker had dropped out, so I messaged to see if I could speak. With less than a day to prepare I stepped up to the challenge. My talk went down very well, and there were a lot of very interesting questions.

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Me delivering my presentation image courtesy of Emily Fisk

I have delivered many talks over the last year or so, and I have to say speaking at PubhD Sheffield is up there as one of the best. The organisers were very friendly and fit me in at the last minute, and all of the delegates were very lovely.

I highly recommend this event for attending and speaking at. I had a really good time. It was also a great opportunity for me to get feedback on my work, so I also really enjoyed that aspect of the night.

Visit the PubhD Sheffield website: http://PubhDSheffield.strikingly.com/

Follow PubhD on Twitter: https://twitter.com/PubhDSheffield

My abstract for the talk

Social networks and social media allow people to share what they think during an outbreak. So my PhD looks at the types of things people say, and whether it based on truth, and to see if it would be harmful. I am looking at Ebola from 2014, and Swine Flu from 2009. I have some found some surprising and interesting things about what types of things users were talking about. For example there is a lot of stigma and discrimination during infectious disease outbreaks can have negative consequences. As well as doing my PhD, I have blogged about social media research and as a result I have been invited to and delivered quite a lot of high profile talks. These have been to government, multi-million turn-over companies, academia, the mainstream media including the likes of the BBC, and I have been awarded funding to work on projects, and deliver training

From darkness to light: how I overcame terrible anxiety and made it to BBC Radio Sheffield

Being an undergraduate was very difficult for me. Plagued by serious mental health issues, low self-esteem, loneliness, and isolation. I could not talk about how I felt, it was not something I could do. The only way I made it through my undergraduate degree is because I was assigned a Disability Adviser and they drew up a plan where I felt comfortable attending seminars and lectures. They were very supportive. The University of Sheffield has a great set of support services.

I went on to study for a Masters and this was a great year where I made many friends, though after this I would experience a lot of lows.  I struggled to find a job, I had bad anxiety, and low self-esteem. On one occasion, I did not leave my house for a week. Most people I knew had moved away from Sheffield, so I felt very lonely, and I am really glad I made it out of this period alive. Though, I was empty from inside. I often listened to Al Pacino’s speech from Any Given Sunday:

We are in hell right now, gentlemen believe me and we can stay here and get the shit kicked out of us or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb out of hell. One inch, at a time.

Feeling the lows I felt, starting out a PhD in September 2014, I had nothing to lose. Slowly, I started to fight off my anxiety. I took small steps, saying ‘Hello’ to strangers, recording myself speak and listening to it back, delivering very short presentations and increasing the length bit by bit, I volunteered to do temp work where I would have to speak to people. By taking very small steps I manged to fight my fears, to climb out of hell.

The last two years or so have been good, I have met many people across the world. I have made new friends. I have worked on a number of interesting and important projects, I have delivered a number of talks.

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I made it to BBC Radio Sheffield last week to talk about my journey. I would like to dedicate the achievement to all of the brilliant teachers, and support workers that helped me over the years.

You can listen to the interview here, and it starts at the 1 hour 35 minute mark.

Ethical Challenges of Using Social Media Data In Research

Check out my talk on the ethical challenges of using social media data in research for   delivered as part of the Bite Size Guide to Research in the 21st Century on the 24th of January, Sheffield, ScHARR. Thanks very much to Andy Tattersall for organising this very great event, and to Dan Smith for editing this very good video. Watch here:

Comments, and thoughts welcome.

A look back at the last 6 months (with pictures)

I thought I’d look back at the previous 6 months or so, in terms of the some of the workshops I have delivered, and articles published.

July 2016

Attended the CIFI Security Summit in July, endorsed by the Metropolitan Police and with speakers from the National Crime Agency (NCA), and participants including Barclays, HM Revenue and Customs, Royal Bank of Scotland, Counter Terrorism Command, US Air Force, and Unilever. See write up here. See an image below:

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Presented a poster at the graduation celebration event at the Information School related to the topic of my PhD. I found the event to be really helpful as it allowed me to talk about my research within the iSchool, and hear about previous research that doctoral students had undertaken. See an image  of me at the event, below:

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August 2016

Delivered a workshop to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The seminar was also broadcast to members from the DWP Office in Sheffield.  The talk centred on social media analytics from my PhD work and covered applications such as Echosec, Visibrain, NodeXL, and DiscoverText.  Slides here. See an image of me speaking at the event below:

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September 2016

Published a blog post based on a conference paper looking at the benefits of Twitter in teaching. The post  was ranked among the most popular posts of the week when it was released. Both the conference paper and blog post have been co-authored with Sergej Lugovic, Senior Lecturer at the Zagreb University of Applied Sciences. The LSE blog post can be read here. Our paper has over 300 reads in ResearchGate, and was ranked as the most read paper in my department for several weeks.

October 2016

Early in the month of October I delivered a talk to A-Level students at High Storrs School, Sheffield. The talk centred on what it was like to do a PhD, and provided a brief introduction to social media research.  I also touched on the ethics of social media research, and the dangers of over-sharing. Slides can be accessed here. See an image of me talking to A-Level Sixth Form students at the school below:

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It was great to go back to my old school, and meet the teachers. Later on in the month I was off to London, and I delivered a talk on Social Network Analysis with NodeXL at an event organised by the New Social Media New Social Science (NSMNSS) network alongside the Social Research Association (SRA). The event was attended across sections with delegates from industry, academia, and government. See an image of me talking at the event below:

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November 2016

I delivered a workshop titled “insights into social media” at Media City, Salford, which is the home to the BBC and ITV. The workshop was a part of the Creative Entrepreneur event, which aims to foster collaboration between academia and industry, and which was attended by over 500 delegates. See an image of me talking at the event below:

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Other highlights

  • I enjoyed helping and taking photographs of various events that were organised as part of the Space for Sharing Project. One of the events was a play following five women diagnosed with breast cancer. It took place in the Spiegeltent in Barkers Pool. See an image of the event below:

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  • I advised and sent feedback to a number of University Research Ethics committees in regards to social media research ethics. We have co-authored a book chapter on social media research ethics forthcoming in 2017.
  • I was featured in the annual White Rose DTC Newsletter, in the Researchers in The News section, for the third academic year in a row. Read here.
  • I was featured in the Doctoral Times magazine (Autumn 2016) circulated widely across the University of Sheffield.
  • I taught on the Data Analysis Module for the third and final academic year.
  • I had an abstract accepted to the iConference 2017.

Visibrain as a Tool for Cyber Security and Intelligence

Visibrain is a powerful media monitoring tool which has access to the Twitter Firehose which means it has complete access to tweets and is not limited in the amount that can be retrieved unlike the Search and Stream APIs. See more about Twitter APIs here which explains why the difference matters.

The problem often faced by those in the security industry is monitoring social media, online press and blogs in a high risk fast moving environment without being overwhelmed by huge quantities of data.

As Twitter is a news sharing and dissemination platform via Twitter using Visibrain it is possible to monitor a number of social media platforms such as Facebook, and YouTube among others as these are often parsed through Twitter. For example, using data derived from Twitter I was able to identify a blogger who was tweeting and blogging pro raw-milk material which contradicted the advice provided by the Foods Standards Agency.

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Figure to show an example alert system

Visibrain would allow an organisation to monitor social media for queries specified by an end user, and if these are triggered an almost instant notification would be delivered. For example, if a bank wanted to monitor mentions of a hacking group and the bank using Visibrain this would be possible.

Additionally, if a local or national authority wanted to monitor mentions of a region or city for keywords such as ‘name of city’ + ‘riots’, or any other threat, Visibrain would sent out an alert almost immediately. Major news stories are often reported on Twitter by citizens and/or journalists before reaching the mainstream media.

Moreover, for those wanting reports produced and delivered almost instantly displaying tweet content, actors, URLS, and so forth, it is possible to receive these alerts via email to almost any location in the world. Below is a screenshot displaying how simple it is to create a report, and the wide range of metrics it is possible to monitor.

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Setting up a case report

Here is an example of a client who wishes to receive updates on the Chilcot report, especially alerts when the expressions i.e., tweet content begins to mention Tony Blair, when they are away from their desk:

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Designed with the cyber security and intelligence services in mind, Visibrain is a robust service with a range of clients such as:

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I’d also recommend checking out some of my previous articles on Visibrain, here, here, and here. Interested in finding out more? Or have a specific question, please don’t hesitate to get in touch (@was3210).

How a blog post I wrote took me to Split, Croatia (Part 2)

This blog post continues on from part 1 of this 2 part series and looks at my short time in Split, Croatia.

I arrived a day before the conference so I had some time to explore the absolutely  wonderful  city of Split. Just as we were walking around we could see some beautiful views:

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I was able to work on my workshop by the coast:

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I noticed that on display by the coast of Split there were many Olympic medalists:

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We headed to De Belly, a beautiful restaurant in the heart of Split and were able to get our hands on some fantastic dessert. I’d highly recommend this restaurant to anyone visiting central Split.

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After that, it was back to the hotel to work on my workshop, so that was my first day in Split!

Overall I really enjoyed my time in Croatia, and I hope to visit again soon. The people are very friendly, and unlike some holiday destinations, you are not hassled by locals to purchase anything.