Can Twitter give us more information on where entrepreneurship is happening? - Technical.ly DC

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May 10, 2017 12:47 pm

Can Twitter give us more information on where entrepreneurship is happening?

That's what a recent study (and an article about it in CityLab) explores.

Washington, D.C.

(Photo by Flickr user Pedro Szekely, used under a Creative Commons license)

We’ve previously bemoaned the difficulty of getting good data on how and why entrepreneurship ecosystems flourish (or don’t). While many cities around the country are trying to create environments that encourage entrepreneurs to get started, figuring out how to measure the success of these attempts can be challenging. Do you look at the number of new startups? Coworking spaces? Incubators? Small businesses? Something else entirely?

A recent study uses data from Twitter to show “entrepreneurial networks” across the U.S.

It works like this: Over a period of 18 months the researchers collected tweets from people who self-identified as entrepreneurs and who tweeted or retweeted the hashtags #entrepreneur and #smallbiz. They then looked at where these users are based, who they interact with on Twitter and where those users are based to unveil a “network” of Twitter-using American entrepreneurs.

It’s not a perfect measure, of course — entrepreneurs that don’t use Twitter are completely left out of this kind of analysis, for example. But it’s interesting nonetheless to see where lots of entrepreneurship-related Twitter activity is happening, and which of these “hubs” (so to speak) are interacting most with each other. Fear not — D.C. is within the top 10 counties by retweets related to entrepreneurship. ?

CityLab has a full exploration of the paper, including some thoughts on how the online entrepreneurship community mirrors our actual physical divides IRL — read on here.

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