UA Little Rock researchers win best paper award for research on YouTube’s digital societies

Social media researchers at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock have been recognized with the best paper award at an international conference for their research on the behavioral analysis of digital societies formed on the video-sharing platform YouTube.

Social media researchers at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock have been recognized with the best paper award at an international conference for their research on the behavioral analysis of digital societies formed on the video-sharing platform YouTube. 

Dr. Nitin Agarwal, Maulden-Entergy Endowed Chair and Distinguished Professor in the Department of Information Science and director of the Collaboratorium of Social Media and Online Behavioral Studies (COSMOS), presented the paper that was co-authored by Muhammad Nihal Hussain, doctoral student in information science; Kiran Kumar Bandell, doctoral student in information science; Dr. Serpil Tokdemir, postdoctoral researcher at COSMOS; and Dr. Samer Al-khateeb, UA Little Rock alumnus and assistant professor of computer science and informatics at Creighton University.

YouTube is the second most popular website globally, and comments left on videos serve as a data source for researchers. The researchers studied the top 200 YouTube videos trending daily for a 40-day period separately in the United States and Great Britain, resulting in nearly an 8,000-video dataset for each region. This study sheds light on the digital ethnographic behaviors in terms of video-based content generation, sharing, and consumption.

Trending videos in each geography region provided a glimpse of the interests of YouTube users. U.S. viewers are more interested in videos about comedy and sports, while those in Great Britain are more interested in sports videos. Additionally, videos in the Great Britain region, on average, have a longer lifespan and are shared more often on social media platforms compared to videos viewed by people in the U.S.

In the future, the researchers plan to do a more in-depth study to look at the factors that explain the differences in content consumption in online sharing behaviors.

The paper, “Understanding Digital Ethnography: Socio-computational Analysis of Trending YouTube Videos,” received the award at the eighth annual Social Media Technologies, Communication, and Informatics (SOTICS 2018), held in Nice, France, in October 2018. This is the fourth year in a row COSMOS researchers have won the best paper award at the SOTICS conference.

The work was funded in part by the U.S. National Science Foundation, U.S. Office of Naval Research, U.S. Air Force Research Lab, U.S. Army Research Office, U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Jerry L. Maulden/Entergy Endowment at UA Little Rock.

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