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[liberationtech] Twitter Forum Room

Craig Blaha craig.blaha at
Thu Sep 1 10:02:41 PDT 2011

Hi Suraj,

This sounds like a really interesting idea, especially since social
networking companies are already compiling the type of information you
mention, but selling it to advertising companies. The idea of giving
it back to the people is intriguing to me.

A few things come to mind when I think about the effect of launching
such a service. Danah boyd has a great article on what happened when
Facebook launched the newsfeed:
She talks about exposure and invasion, and how "public" information
that is suddenly aggregated feels like a privacy invasion, and how
aggregated data is hard to ignore. She is far more articulate and the
article is worth a read if you aren't familiar with it already. I
could imagine both exposure and invasion as side effects of launching
your service.

You should also watch for unintended consequences. Gathering people
together to perform good acts more efficiently is awesome. I could
imagine the same tool gathering people together to commit atrocities.
Something to think about in your code, policies, and the social norms
you hope to establish.

Lastly, this sounds like a great surveillance tool. I could imagine
how this might be useful for anything from oppressive regimes to
ex-boyfriends to find a cause of interest and disrupt said cause.

Good luck and proceed with caution.


On Wed, Jul 20, 2011 at 12:33 PM, Suraj <suraj.patel1 at> wrote:
> Hey everyone,
> My team is working on a tool that helps group together people who have
> similar network patterns and word use around issues and sentiment to help
> organize people for political action.  Our analysis basically finds like
> minded people one should be conversing with and we were thinking to provide
> all of those accounts in a certain country, for example, with the a single
> forum room so that it's as if we created lists of people for them to follow
> and talk to right on twitter.  We're just brainstorming uses for our
> discovery program and wanted to see what you all think about this.  Thanks!
> Suraj Patel | suraj.patel1 at |
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Craig Blaha
craig.blaha at
(512) 537-5951

School of Information
1616 Guadalupe
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78701-1213

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