Social Media Data Mining with Raspberry Pi: 9 Videos for the Complete Beginner

Since the start of this year, I’ve been working on a project to take a $30 Raspberry Pi 2 computer turn it to create a social media data mining machine using the programming language Python. The words “programming language” may be off-putting, but my goal is to work through the process step-by-step so that even a complete beginner can follow along and accomplish the feat.

The inexpensive, adaptable $30 Raspberry Pi 2I’m motivated by two impulses. My first impulse to help people gain control over and ownership of the information regarding interaction that surrounds us. My second impulse is to demonstrate that mastery of social media information is not limited to the corporate, the government, or the otherwise well-funded sphere. This is not a video series for those who already are technologically wealthy and adept. It’s for anyone who has $30 to spare, a willingness to tinker, but the feeling that they’ve been left out of the social media data race. I hope to make the point that anyone can use social media data mining to find out who’s talking to whom. The powers that be are already watching down at us: my hope is that we little folks can start to watch up.

I’m starting the project by shooting videos. The video series has further potential, but has proceeded far enough along to represent a fairly good arc of skill development. Eventually I’d like to transcribe the videos and create a written and illustrated how-to pamphlet; these videos are just the start.

Throughout the videos, I’ve tried not to cover up the temporary mistakes, detours and puzzling bugs that are typical of programming. No one I know of hooks up the perfect computer system or writes a perfect program on the first try. Working through error messages and sleuthing through them is part of the process, and you’ll see that occasionally in these videos.

Please feel free to share the videos if you find them useful. I’d also appreciate any feedback you might have to offer.

Video 1: Hardware Setup for the Raspberry Pi

Video 2: Setting up the Raspberry Pi’s Raspbian Operating System

Video 3: Using the Raspberry Pi’s Text and Graphical Operating Systems

Video 4: Installing R

Video 5: Twitter, Tweepy and Python

Video 6: Debugging

Video 7: Saving Twitter Posts in a CSV File

Video 8: Extracting and Saving Data on Twitter URLs, Hashtags, and Mentions

Video 9: Custom Input

“Hello, My Name Is…”: Gender in Sims 4 Choices

Gender socialization involves first the limits presented by the messages that we are sent, second our reaction to those limits, and third our efforts to reinforce or change those limits. Gender socialization often happens through media, and one of the newest and most popular forms of media is the computer game.  To examine gender socialization in computer games, I’ve recorded a video that walks through the various options presented for the development of “male” and “female” characters in a very popular game called Sims 4.

As you watch the brief (6 minute) video of the results below, consider: what messages do the options for the two available gendered categories of “male” and “female” identity send us? What choices does the player have?  What choices does the player not have?


Here’s what I noticed during my walkthrough:

  • Most crucially, only two named categories are presented.  They’re labeled “male” and “female,” although really what’s being performed here is not explicit biological sexuality but rather social indicators of masculinity and femininity.  This is indeed about socialized gender, not strictly sex.  If we’re dealing with gender, would you say there more than two gender categories put on display in the Sims 4 character design feature?
  • Walks: Both Male  and Female  Characters may have a “Perky” or “Snooty” Walk…
  • For both Males and Females, a particular walk is labeled “Feminine”
  • For males, available voices are “clear, “warm, ” and “brash.”
  • For females, available voices are “sweet, “melodic, ” and “lilted.”
  • The female character shows a “romantic” trait by drawing in, bending, and turning.
  • The male character shows a”romantic” trait by placing legs apart, stepping forward.
  • Both male and female characters display identical “Bro” behaviors.
  • Male stylized character packages display a wide stance, a direct forward gaze and thorough coverage…
  • …except for the “Emo” package, which displays feminized characteristics in dress and bodily arrangement.
  • Some female stylized character packages display a somewhat wide stance and a direct forward gaze…
  • …but some draw inward and back, have an indirect gaze. Most are less covered by clothing.
  • Available tops for male characters  cover the torso thoroughly.
  • Available tops for female characters  are more likely to expose the torso …and present more alternatives.
  • Female full-body clothing options for characters expose skin, as do bottom clothing choices.
  • Male full-body clothing options for characters are less likely to expose skin, and present fewer choices.
  • Male bottom clothing options for characters are also less likely to expose skin, and also present fewer choices.
  • 33 accessory clothing accessory choices are available for female characters.
  • 14 accessory clothing accessory choices  (less than half) are available for male characters.

That’s what I noticed.  What do you see?