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Texas iSchool to research White House social media archives

The White House announced on Jan. 5 that Texas iSchool Assistant Professor Amelia Acker will conduct a pair of research and teaching projects using President Barack Obama’s complete social media archives.
President Obama has been described as the “first social media president.” During his eight years in office, the White House issued hundreds of thousands of tweets, snaps and other posts, charting the evolution of social media. They also reflected broader changes in the ways people consume news and information and engage with the world around them online.
When the Obama administration sought to develop interesting and innovative ways to preserve the content and data, making it useful and available for years to come, Acker responded to the call to action. She will use the social media archives to conduct research that measures the Obama administration’s early social media adoption and civic engagement across platforms. She will also use the content and data to teach access standards and metadata applications at the Texas iSchool.
“Given President Obama’s adoption of new social media platforms and President-elect Trump’s extensive use of Twitter in particular, I think we have an important role to play in identifying ethics, priorities and problems with collections of social media data,” Dr. Acker said. “I’m excited for the role the Texas iSchool will play in locating and shaping the issues animating the future of training information professionals concerned with long-term digital collections, organizational transition, metadata transformation and the future of data culture.”
Dr. Acker is planning to use the social media data this semester to teach a master’s level course on metadata applications in support of digital preservation, data curation and archival access to digital collections such as these presidential and public records. Each of the 15 students who take her course will conduct a final project that finds a novel use for the social media data. The projects will be made available online in May.
For her research project, Dr. Acker will collaborate with Dr. Adam Kreisberg, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Maryland iSchool.
For more information, contact Wes Ferguson, School of Information, 512-471-2608.