I am excited to have successfully led two research projects to completion and will be presenting our work at the International Communication Association (ICA) 2017 conference in San Diego, United States.
- Study 1 (Sports Communication Division): How social media defined Rio Olympics: A text analytics approach towards understanding the impact of Zika Virus, [M. Laeeq Khan; Zulfia Zaher; Gregory D. Newton].
Abstract: Olympics is a global event that brings together athletes who compete in different games. The event also brought together sport fans, athletes, healthcare professionals, and various organizations especially via social media sites such as Twitter. Users posted updates, expressed opinions and concerns, and interacted with each other. The Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil were marred by negativity especially the widespread scare from Zika virus. This research examines the various concerns surrounding the Rio 2016 Olympics through an analysis of a large Twitter dataset. Results revealed that the overall sentiment surrounding the Rio Olympic event was mostly neutral and positive. Sport enthusiasts, media organizations, and journalists were the most avid tweeters. While health-related concerns were dominant, Zika-related concerns comprised a minor portion. Some users indicated the use of condoms as protective measures against Zika virus.
- Study 2 (Communication and Technology Division): Sharing online to caring offline: How social media helped build Walls of Kindness across three countries, [M. Laeeq Khan; Zulfia Zaher]
Abstract: Based on a dataset from Twitter, a sharing phenomenon called the “wall of kindness” was analyzed. Taking inspiration from traditional and social and media, individuals in Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan self-organized themselves to create public spaces where anyone could hang old clothes for charity. Results revealed that, information in the form of text, images, and links were being tweeted to inspire others into action, encourage donations, take pride in one’s efforts, and commend others. In terms of occupation, lay persons or common people tweeted most about the phenomena. Journalists or media persons were most supportive of the Wall of Kindness. Wall of Kindness received the greatest support in terms of number of tweets supporting the phenomena in Pakistan. Recommendations for future work are offered.
For readers outside academia, I wanted to offer a brief insight about ICA. The International Communication Association officially emerged in 1950 as the National Society for the Study of Communication (NSSC). The core objectives of the new organization were identified as, “fostering methodologies, philosophies, courses and curricula in so-called basic communication, speech, journalism, radio and other mass media (including English, etc.) which would implement training more directly for the needs of human relations at all levels” (Weaver, 1977, p. 608). To address the changing field of communication, newer divisions, journals and other publications were added to represent diversity.
I look forward to meeting my colleagues and forming new academic relationships at the ICA convention in San Diego. I also hope that like last year, ICA would be a phenomenal success.