Dialogue Earth

At the intersection of millions of tweets, billions of Web pages and an evershifting appetite for content and conversation is Dialogue Earth, a start-up nonprofit media project with a mission to increase public understanding on issues of environmental importance.

The project, funded in part by the Institute on the Environment, has developed an innovative process to create trustworthy science-based messages that are relevant and engaging, and have the potential to become widely distributed without advocating a particular action or policy.

Dialogue Earth’s approach combines three core activities: identifying hot topics, developing key science points and stimulating creative storytelling.

To identify relevant and timely topics, researchers are developing a process for mining social media for trends in how various topics are covered. This spring they plan to launch a publicly available tool for tracking trends in opinions extracted from social media.

Once they identify a topic in need of an infusion of objective, science-based information, team members will collaborate with subject-matter experts from across academia, industry, government and environmental advocacy organizations to develop key science points. To bring the science points to life, the team works with creative storytellers to produce a series of videos on each topic, diverse in style but all adherent to the key points.

For its pilot content test, Dialogue Earth successfully engaged an online community in a contest to create 90-second videos about ocean acidification. A project to create videos on the topic of energy is currently underway.

Finger on the Pulse

Dialogue Earth’s “Pulse” interactive tool makes it possible to monitor opinions inferred from social media. To create this map of sentiment about global warming, researchers collected Twitter posts containing “global warming,” “climate change” or “#climate” during a six-day period in March 2011. Crowd-sourced workers were asked to infer, based on a detailed set of instructions, whether each Twitter author believed global warming was occurring.

The color of the states indicates the percent of Twitter posts originating in that state that indicate a belief that global warming is occurring. States colored gray had insufficient data. Dialogue Earth is working to refine the approach and apply it to monitoring social media on an ongoing basis.

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Just the Facts

Last fall, the IonE-funded Dialogue Earth program held an international competition to develop a factual, user-friendly educational video on ocean acidification. View all the videos in a larger format.

Around the Web

Learn more and view videos from the ocean acidification project at dialogueearth.org/multimedia.