Who dominates Turkish social media?

Who dominates Turkish social media?

TED talks make us all think harder about various amazing phenomena. Their subjects range from personal experience to scientific projects, from minor daily acts to huge social behavioral patterns. I have listened to almost a hundred of them. They are all impressive, but recently I found the real gem. It is not a TED talk, but a blog entry on the TED website, and it answered many of my questions about why things are the way they are in Turkey.

The TED blog describes the entry like this:

“What do the social networks look like in your city or country? Dave Troy … crunches data to see places not as neighborhoods, but as relationships between people. With his PeopleMaps project, he groups people by whom they follow and talk to on Twitter, then works with local collaborators to analyze what those people talk about most. The result? Fascinating non-geographic maps of a region’s interests and communities.”

You really must have a look at his blog entry and see the maps yourself.

The results of three of the places he studies are as follows:

SAUDI ARABIA: As Saudi Arabia cracks down on press freedoms, people have been turning to social media to communicate and organize. The PeopleMaps project is an early map of a complicated place, but we can see that communities are arranged on an axis from liberal to conservative, with football in the middle. We can also see a subnetwork for sex and gay porn, which we also see in Istanbul, another place with Internet censorship.

BARCELONA: Barcelona appears in the project as a colorful beachball, and it’s perhaps the most “well-rounded” city plotted by Troy. Catalunyan independence is a hot topic, of course, as is the famed Barcelona football club. Barcelona’s communities wrap neatly around what appears to be a varied array of mainstream media outlets. Bookworms and library fans are even clearly identifiable (opposite the Barcelona fans, sorry to say). Twitter usage is quite high in Barcelona, perhaps attributable to the recent combination of economic and political changes.

ISTANBUL: Istanbul has a large population of young male “poets” — the largest cohort Troy identified in the city. They are talking about getting girls and music and being a guy right now, but soon they’re going to start to want real jobs and begin to vote. The big question for Turkey is where those young men will turn their energy — to democratic values or to fundamentalist viewpoints. Also note the clear presence of a “gay porn” subnetwork, which is something we’ve observed in other places where Internet content is censored. We also noticed a subnetwork of “trolls,” who appear to exist primarily to repeat others’ content. This may be part of an astroturfing campaign to amplify certain political messages.

The similarities between Saudi Arabia and Istanbul - and the difference of Barcelona - tells me a lot to understand the society I live in. How can we nourish intellectual debates? How can we be innovative when our youth spends its energy on the above mentioned issues? How can this society improve? How can we get our youth to discuss more meaningful issues? These are all questions that we should all think about.