Twitter Backs New MIT Media Lab Program

The social media site is tossing the school’s center $10 million so researchers can pick apart online patterns and develop new tools.

Image via Associated Press

Image via Associated Press

Thanks to Twitter, something new is hatching over at the MIT Media Lab.

According to MIT News, the California-based social media site saw the potential to do something huge in terms of breaking down and understanding how people consume information and share it on public platforms, so they decided to drop $10-million into a special research project at the space called the “Laboratory for Social Machines.”

Although it sounds ominous and slightly futuristic in terms of its title, the research project, which will take place over a five-year period, will focus on developing new technologies so that researchers can better digest the logic and “social patterns” in mass media, social media, data streams, and digital content, while examining and discussing how those online functions impact and stimulate change in real-world communities.

“With this investment, Twitter is seizing the opportunity to go deeper into research to understand the role Twitter and other platforms play in the way people communicate, the effect that rapid and fluid communication can have, and apply those findings to complex societal issues,” said Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter.

Twitter’s not only giving the LSM project some substantial funding, however. The company announced they will allow researchers to tap into Twitter’s real-time, public stream of tweets, “as well as the archive of every tweet dating back to the first.”

The special laboratory project won’t solely be relying on the 140-character tweets people sling out using their phones and sitting behind computer screens. The funding for the project will also go toward looking at social media usage and connectivity through various media sites that connect people from across the world to create a shared online space.

“As social media leads us into the emergence of a new era of communication and engagement, the LSM, in collaboration with Twitter, will create analytical tools to help turn the vision of a new public sphere into reality,” said Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab.