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Berkman MediaCloud tracks feeds ‘n’ memes

The Berkman Center has launched one of its most exciting projects. MediaCloud is subscribing to hundreds of RSS feeds, including many from the mainstream media, is automagically performing topic analysis (actually, entity extraction using Reuter’s OpenCalais) on it, and is building a gigantic database so researchers can see how ideas and information move through and across the Net.

Here’s what the announcement says:

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society is pleased to announce the launch of Media Cloud, a new project that seeks to track news content comprehensively — providing free, open, and flexible research tools:

Researching the nature of news, and media information flows, has always faced a difficult challenge: there is so much produced by so many outlets that it is hard to monitor it all. Researchers have used painstaking manual content analysis to understand mass media. On the web, the explosion of citizen media makes such an approach far more difficult and less comprehensive. By automatically downloading, processing, and querying the full text of thousands of outlets, Media Cloud will allow unprecedented quantitative analysis of media trends.

Today’s launch allows a first view into some of what is possible on the Media Cloud platform. At you can generate simple charts of media coverage across sources and countries. The actual capabilities of the system are much greater, and the Media Cloud team is actively looking for other researchers who will bring their own questions as the tools are further developed. Ultimately, Media Cloud will provide open APIs that can support a variety of lines of inquiry.

Visit the Media Cloud site, try the visualizations, share your research ideas with the team, and sign up for the Media Cloud mailing list to hear about functionality enhancements and other project developments.

The Berkman Center is proud to be incubating the project in its initial phases and is now seeking partners to help Media Cloud realize its full research potential….

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