In Turkey, conversation continues

Turkey protests infographic copyLast month, the Turkish protests were all over the place in the news. This month, media atten­tion has shifted to Egypt but that doesn’t mean every­thing has worked itself out on the other side of the Mediter­ranean. The New York Times wrote about it the other day in an article titled After Protests, Forums Spark in Turkey’s Parks. Online and off, the con­ver­sa­tion con­tinues among those most vested in it: Turkish citizens.

The article got me thinking about an info­graphic that Stern­berg Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor Alessandro Vespignani’s team put out a few weeks ago, which out­lines that part of the con­ver­sa­tion that took place on Twitter. The team, which includes grad­uate stu­dents Fabio Ciulla, Delia Mocanu and graphic designer Nicole Samay, is studying social media use in attempt to deter­mine whether these kind of data could be used to develop math­e­mat­ical models of social col­lec­tive phenomena.

Back in June the police response to the protests was vio­lent and heavy-​​handed. Four people died. Now cit­i­zens are appar­ently coming together across polit­ical, sec­tarian, ethnic, and social bound­aries, according to the Times article, to figure out where to go from here. Gath­er­ings in the country’s parks are being called “people’s forums” and are intended to pro­vide a new form of peaceful dissent. While the majority of the con­ver­sa­tion has so far taken place on Twitter, not every­body uses the Internet, so it seems these people’s forums are pro­viding a kind of link between what’s hap­pening online and in the real world.

But as they say in the graphic, “fol­lowing Twitter’s most pop­ular hash­tags related to the protests, it is pos­sible to have a spa­tiotem­poral map­ping of the Turkish events.” That is, since so much of this was hap­pening online, they can use that data to show what what was hap­pening in the real world simultaneously.

So, first, here’s the spa­tial part:

Click for a bigger view.

Click for a closer look.

Looking at only those Tweets that have been tagged with a geolo­cal­ized posi­tion, the team was able to show where the majority of the con­ver­sa­tion sur­rounding the protests was taking place within Turkey. Unsur­pris­ingly, it was local­ized to Istanbul, but there are other pockets around the country where the con­ver­sa­tion was strong as well. “The protest indeed has spread to other major urban areas in Turkey such as the cap­ital city Ankara, thus showing broader sup­port than just the city of Istanbul,” said Vespignani.

And here’s the tem­poral part:

Turkey protests infographic copy

Click for a closer look.

Looking at the volume of tweets asso­ci­ated with par­tic­ular hashtags–both within Turkey and around the globe–the team was able to visu­alize exactly how things began to esca­late. It may be a coin­ci­dence, but I think it’s inter­esting that the most tragic events took place just as the con­ver­sa­tion began to cool. It’s also not so sur­prising that the yellow line, which rep­re­sents the global con­ver­sa­tion, only jumps a little on the most active days of the protest. No wonder the tur­moil has so quickly receded into our periph­eral vision.

Of course it’s hard to keep abreast of every­thing that’s hap­pening out there in the world (and in the uni­verse, no less, if you’re into that sort of stuff), graphics like this help, at least for me, to put it all into the bigger picture.

You can see the whole info­graphic at once by clicking on the image below.

View the full infographic here.

Click to view the full infographic.