News From InterMedia

Social Media: Broadcasters' Friend or Foe

On July 6th InterMedia sponsored a panel discussion at Africa's premier media event the Broadcast and Film Africa conference. The panel titled: "Social Media: Broadcasters' Friend or Foe" - a hot topic these days as media groups try to understand and profit from the online environment. A diverse and high-profile group of panelists made for an informative session. The other panelists were: Mercy Murugi, a filmmaker and head of Kibera TV; Churchill Otieno, Online Editor at the Nation Group; Sam Muthoka, senior research manager at Synovate Kenya; Santos Okuttah, Founder of video site; and Douglas Namale, co-founder and editor of the Kibera Journal.

InterMedia Africa's Managing Director Vivien Marles, who was on the panel, made a strong case to the assembled broadcast and media crowd for taking a research-based approach to understanding its inhabitants and how they communicate within social networks. See video clips from the session here .

AudienceScapes Training Workshop: Designing Financial and Health Communication Strategies

 On July 8th, as part of InterMedia Africa's launch festivities, conducted a 3-hour AudienceScapes training session. The workshop attracted 19 participants from diverse backgrounds (banks, telecoms, research orgs, development, tech), most of whom were already familiar with AudienceScapes but less so with the survey data tool.

 After an overview of the A-Scapes data, InterMedia staff broke the group into pairs for an exercise using the data to design hypothetical communications strategies in both financial and health areas. Those present dove in, then each team presented their results. It was a powerful example of IM sharing knowledge with locals who will benefit from it.

Ali Fisher Brings Network Analysis Expertise to InterMedia


Dr. Ali Fisher has joined the InterMedia Research Collaborative and will direct InterMedia’s research and analysis of networked communications, both online and offline. Dr. Fisher, a renowned expert in network analysis, is also director of Mappa Mundi Consulting, where he has advised governments, charities, companies and NGOs on best practice for online engagement, collaboration and network building.

View a series of data visualization images which Dr. Fisher generated and analyzed based on human communication and interactions in the online, social media and offline spheres.


Mapping Human Engagement

Humans are generally "huddlers" by nature who form clusters based on similar choices or behaviors. Reflecting this, the image above maps the movements of individuals who attended a series of five related events. The majority of individuals attended only a single event, creating the five large clusters in the image. But some people went to various combinations of events, as shown in smaller clusters and the connections to other clusters around the events they attended.

The Extremist Discussion

The image above represents online discussion tracks about topics related to extremist activity. The blue clusters follow contributions to discussion forums and can show how users are engaging with each other, as well as what topics they focus on in their discussions. The orange and yellow webs highlight connections between websites  featuring extremist materials, such as those publishing propaganda and support for the insurgency in Iraq. 

Offline Events, Online Impact

Online communities provide a convenient window on how political and other events affect people's attitudes and perceptions. For example, when U.S. President Barak Obama went on a state visit to Brazil in March 2011, InterMedia with Dr. Fisher looked at how various digital networks in Brazil spread news and commentary about the trip. The images above and below display some of these networks, which allowed InterMedia to identify key discussion "nodes" and what issues they were discussing.

An Online Window on Middle East Protests

The image above highlights individuals and organizations on Twitter who were leading producers of content during the wave of protests in the Middle East. The image shows the relative importance of particular "information brokers", based on the degree to which other individuals shared re-tweeted content from those sources.

Information nodes are close together in the network if their content was re-tweeted by similar combinations of users. This accounts for the cluster of Arabic-language sources on the left of the graph. Individual journalists also appear to have had important roles as information brokers - for example Dima Khatib, Latin American Bureau Chief of Al Jazeera, and Andy Carvin, a senior strategist on the social media desk at Washington, D.C.-based National Public Radio. 

Bin Laden's Finale

News of the death of Osama bin Laden spawned a massive "infosphere" online in which participants discussed and debated their interpretations of how the event transpired. The image above shows how different opinions about the event related to each other in the online environment. For example, the conversation nodes in the left cluster are mostly traditional-format news sources, while those in the right cluster are more satirical, with many sharing cartoons. A common discussion thread throughout focused on the White House's refusal to release an image of the deceased Bin Laden.

 InterMedia provides research, evaluation and consulting services to guide effective engagement strategies in an increasingly complex media and communication environment. Through InterMedia Research Collaborative, we bring together leading minds using state-of-the-art techniques to analyze behavior in online and offline networks, social media and mobile communications.