Using R for Text Mining and Mapping Online Communities

Authors: Gentry Hanks*, Queen's University
Topics: Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Cartography, Qualitative Research
Keywords: R, Mapping, Online Communities, Open Source
Session Type: Illustrated Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Canal St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor


How can researchers better understand geographical locations of members in online communities? While researching a community on Reddit, r/diabetes, I wanted to be able to visually represent where these users might live, work, or travel. This paper illustrates the process of using open source software, R, to text mine the r/diabetes comment data set for place names and map them using different R libraries, such as Dplyr and Maps with the Google API. While there are limitations to this method, mapping online communities using data sets that don't contain traditional geographical data, such as coordinates or addresses, presents the opportunity for creativity.

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