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Uncovering social semantics from textual traces: A theory-driven approach and evidence from public statements of U.S. Members of Congress

Lin, YR and Margolin, D and Lazer, D (2016) Uncovering social semantics from textual traces: A theory-driven approach and evidence from public statements of U.S. Members of Congress. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 67 (9). 2072 - 2089. ISSN 2330-1635

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Abstract

© 2015 The Authors. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of ASIS & T. The increasing abundance of digital textual archives provides an opportunity for understanding human social systems. Yet the literature has not adequately considered the disparate social processes by which texts are produced. Drawing on communication theory, we identify three common processes by which documents might be detectably similar in their textual features—authors sharing subject matter, sharing goals, and sharing sources. We hypothesize that these processes produce distinct, detectable relationships between authors in different kinds of textual overlap. We develop a novel n-gram extraction technique to capture such signatures based on n-grams of different lengths. We test the hypothesis on a corpus where the author attributes are observable: the public statements of the members of the U.S. Congress. This article presents the first empirical finding that shows different social relationships are detectable through the structure of overlapping textual features. Our study has important implications for designing text modeling techniques to make sense of social phenomena from aggregate digital traces.


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Details

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
Creators/Authors:
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Lin, YRyurulin@pitt.eduYURULIN
Margolin, D
Lazer, D
Date: 1 September 2016
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology
Volume: 67
Number: 9
Page Range: 2072 - 2089
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1002/asi.23540
Schools and Programs: School of Information Sciences > Information Science
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 2330-1635
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2015 15:24
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2017 17:55
URI: http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/id/eprint/25475

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