HUBzero powers Social Media Macroscope, making social media data analysis available to anyone

As social media sites like Twitter and Facebook explode in popularity, researchers in a variety of fields are turning to social media for data to study. But although plenty of social media analytics tools exist, they’re not always accessible to those without a computational science background.

Social Media Macroscope, an environment powered by Purdue’s open-source HUBzero platform, presents a solution to that problem – users simply log onto the site and use data analytics tools through a web interface, no coding required. Instead of having to write a program to access and parse data from a site such as Twitter, obtaining the relevant data is as simple as entering in search terms.

The HUBzero environment hides all the complicated computational infrastructure behind Social Media Macroscope, making advanced techniques available to the user in an easy-to-use format.

“We could have built a whole environment for ourselves, but it just didn’t make sense when we saw that HUBzero had already done that for us at a very low cost,” says Joseph Yun, Social Media Macroscope’s principal investigator and the leader of the Social Research and Technology Innovation Lab at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

As participants in HUBzero’s No Hassle Hub option, the Social Media Macroscope team has relied on customization and support from the HUBzero team. “Everything’s been taken care of very promptly,” says Yun of HUBzero’s ticketing support system.

Social Media Macroscope isn’t just for data science novices. It’s also a place where computational scientists can share the models they’ve created and make them available to non-experts. 

Yun cites the Valence Aware Dictionary and sEntiment Reasoner (VADER) as an example of a tool that’s reached a wider audience through Social Media Macroscope. As code sitting on GitHub, it wasn’t accessible to non-programmers. But with Social Media Macroscope, using VADER is as simple as selecting the tool from a drop-down menu and pressing the ‘run’ button.

The HUBzero platform now powers more than 60 interactive, web-based hubs driving research and education in fields such as nanotechnology, medical device informatics, cancer treatment, pharmaceutical manufacturing, volcanology, environmental modeling, biofuels, and the bonds between humans and companion animals.

HUBzero also offers a simple sustainability option. When someone builds a community with the HUBzero platform and uses HUBzero’s No Hassle option, HUBzero will sustain the community past grant funding through{OneSciencePlace}.

To learn more about using HUBzero for research or education needs, contact Claire Stirm, HUBzero engagement manager,

Writer:  Adrienne Miller, technology writer, Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), 765-496-8204,

Last updated: December 19, 2018