UF is working to research social media-user activity on a large scale.
Aaron Beveridge, a UF graduate research fellow and English Ph.D. candidate, worked with Nicholas Van Horn, who has a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology, to create MassMine, a computer application that helps sort big data.
Beveridge said MassMine can collect, archive and analyze data from social networks to use for academic research. It uses application program interfaces (APIs), to access personal data through social networks, which programmers then use to create social network applications.
MassMine has accessed data from Twitter and will start collecting from other social media sites like Reddit and Facebook, Beveridge said.
“By nature, it’s hard to gain access to that data outside of APIs,” he said. “It’s all about collaborative, free, community software.”
MassMine has been working alongside the HiPerGator — Florida’s most powerful computer — which allows it to run more efficiently and securely store data from social media, said Erik Deumens, director of UF Research Computing.
“If you have a large amount of data, you also need a large amount of computing power to deal with the data,” Deumens said.
Students are taking advantage of MassMine in class. Patricia Matamoros, a UF telecommunication junior, is collecting data in Writing Through Media.
“MassMine helps us to be able to interact with the data, and I think it makes all the information accessible so we can view it closely,” Matamoros said.
The HiPerGator is also used by UF students, computer scientists, engineers and others for research activities in advanced classes.
“People are so interested in using this resource, and because it is research, there is always something that is different, something innovative,” Deumens said.
Many researchers want to work with the HiPerGator, Deumens said, so UF Research and Computing is planning to add a new research supercomputer by August.
[A version of this story ran on page 4 on 3/20/2015 under the headline “New computer application sorts big data from social media”]