I enjoyed Mike Thelwall@ introduction to webometrics. Gathering data from websites has come a long way since I used this research method as part of my Information Management Degree dissertation. Then (2000 - 2001) I manually analyzed data from Scottish Business Gateway websites for information re competitive intelligence. This was then followed up by telephone interviews.
It is interesting from a professional point of view but concerning from a personal point of view how much information can be gained about you from the web in particular social media. In preparation for the workshop and Mike's presentation workshop, participants had some homework to do. To join YouTube and leave comments on a video, replying to each others comments. Part of the analysis was based on self declared age and gender information from YouTube.
However one of the problems with this is the reliability of people self declaring their date of birth, the system then uses this to calculate the persons age. I decided to check out the privacy settings and ticked the box to say not to display this information. This was not because I didn't want people to see my age but to see what if anything was displayed within the analysis. The result was that no age was displayed for me but one participants age showed as 111! See the analysis chart along with a summary, PowerPoint slides a and video of Mike's presentation.
Returning to reliability, this is not unique to this research method as all forms of data are subject to reliability whether it is in survey's, interviews etc.
The other concern people have about giving their real date of birth is related to the information being used in financial security checks.
The presentation was a good overview of webometrics:
what it is - gathering, processing and analysing large scale data from the web
what it can offer researchers - a method to extract useful patterns
webometric analyst software.