4CAT: Capture and Analysis Toolkit - ICWSM20 tutorial

Hi there!

This page lists information on the 4CAT tutorial we'll be hosting virtually on June 8, 2020.

4CAT is a tool we have been developing over the past two years. We're excited to show our work, but we're also eager to hear about your research and discuss how 4CAT could be of use to you.

What can I do with 4CAT?

4CAT is an open source tool made to collect, analyse, and visualise thread-like data.

Part of our goal is multi-purpose use, bridging the gap between qualitative and quantitative research and programmers and non-programmers. In the last years, it has served the role of Web archive, visualisation tool, personal code repository, and as a framework for specific research projects.

At the moment, our main 4CAT instance can collect data from Reddit, Instagram, Tumblr, 4chan, 8chan/8kun, Telegram, and custom datasets.

Analysis modules range from calculating simple metrics to network visualisation and NLP.

As we will detail, we aim to make 4CAT easily customisable. The final part of the tutorial will detail how you can install your own instance and add your own data sources and analysis modules.

Schedule for 8 June

Times in EDT (GMT -5, Atlanta time).

08:30 - 08:45 Intro + welcome.

08:45 - 09:15 Tool background and walkthrough.

09:15 - 09:30 Q&A + break.

09:30 - 10:15 Hands-on session.

10:15 - 10:30 Questions and discussions.

10:40 - 10:45 Break.

10:45 - ~11:30 optional: Local installation + adding modules and data sources.


It is preferable if you have two screens or one large screen so you can simultaneously use the tool and follow the stream.

To use 4CAT you first need an account. You can access the tool and request an account here. Simply mention ICWSM20 in the form and we'll aprove you ASAP.

After approval, you can explore the tool yourself, altough we have time reserved for this during the tutorial as well.

If you are interested in installing a local instance of 4CAT and/or make your own modules:

Having installed 4CAT locally is not requried, but allows you to immediately follow along when we explain how to add module scripts and data sources during the tutorial.



Sample exercises


Example projects using 4CAT

Who are we?

Sal Hagen a PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam, Department of Media Studies. He co-founded OILab during his MA in Media Studies and has studied Internet subcultures since. His work combines cultural research and media theory with digital and computational methods.

Stijn Peeters is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam as part of the ERC-funded ODYCCEUS Horizon 2020 project and the Digital Methods Initiative. In 2018, he completed his PhD research on the platform histories of Twitter and IRC at King’s College London, as part of the ERC-funded Ego-Media project. His current research interests focus on platform history and a media-archaeological analysis of fringe communities on social media platforms.

Emilija Jokubauskaite is a lecturer at the University of Amsterdam, department of Media Studies. She will start her PhD on the platformization of the global sex industry with prof. Thomas Poell coming September.