The Guardian today released the first findings of its investigation into the riots which swept through some cities in England during the summer of 2011. More is to come, as they drill down into the data with a team of academics and other partners.
Regardless of the findings I’m interested in the time taken to explain the methodologies used, approaches adopted and the various ways in which the material is being used. Social media and its uses also feature, courtesy of researchers such as Farida Vis (who also has a book on the way on this very topic: http://researchingsocialmedia.org/ ). The resources pulled together for this are not at the disposal of independent researchers, just as it took a partnership approach for The Guardian and others to work on the large tranches of data released by Wikileaks in recent months. That said, the open approach adopted by such media organisations and others facilitates the work of others: we can all learn a lot, give a little in return through comments and wider discussion. The debate is therefore better informed and the methods discussed – ultimately gaining credibility in the process.