The MIT Media Lab announced Wednesday it will be launching a Laboratory for Social Machines, courtesy of a five-year, $10-million commitment from Twitter.
The LSM will be focused on creating platforms that allow individuals and institutions to identify, discuss and act on pressing societal problems, according to MIT News. Although funded by Twitter, students and staff will be utilizing multiple social media and mass media platforms, thereby not limiting their research to the 140-character micro-blogging platform.
Beyond the funding, however, Twitter has also gifted the Media Lab access to its real-time, public stream of tweets, as well as an archive of every tweet, dating back to the first sent by Twitter Co-founder Jack Dorsey in March 2006.
Explained MIT Associate Professor Deb Roy, Twitter’s chief media scientist, who will also be spearheading the LSM:
The Laboratory for Social Machines will experiment in areas of public communication and social organization where humans and machines collaborate on problems that can’t be solved manually or through automation alone. Social feedback loops based on analysis of public media and data can be an effective catalyst for increasing accountability and transparency — creating mutual visibility among institutions and individuals.
The initiative is expected to spur the development of new technologies dedicated to making sense “of semantic and social patterns across the broad span of public mass media, social media, data streams and digital content,” according to MIT News, whether a collaborative platform or mobile app.
Added Twitter CEO Dick Costolo:
With this investment, Twitter is seizing the opportunity to go deeper into research to understand the role Twitter and other platforms play in the way people communicate, the effect that rapid and fluid communication can have and apply those findings to complex societal issues.
Given the MIT Media Lab has already made government data digestible for the average human and helped others more easily stalk a stranger for 20 days, Twitter turned to the right institution.
“As social media leads us into the emergence of a new era of communication and engagement,” shared Media Lab Director Joi Ito in a statement, “the LSM, in collaboration with Twitter, will create analytical tools to help turn the vision of a new public sphere into reality.”
Image via Elizabeth Thomsen (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)