Study ranks U of C second most popular online

The University’s internet popularity may stem from faculty and alumni, like Steven Levitt and Tucker Max (A.B. ’98), who have become popular online news sources.

By Janet De La Torre

The University of Chicago may have a reputation for being the place where fun goes to die, but perhaps it would be better described as the place where fun goes online.

According to a press release by the Global Language Monitor (GLM) January 4, the University ranked second in the largest “Internet brand equity” for 2010, having an online presence only second to the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Harvard, MIT, and Columbia rounded out the top five in the analysis that covered 300 universities.

GLM assessed Internet brand equity using an algorithmic analysis of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, the blogosphere, and top online media sources. GLM argues their statistical analysis is less biased than other rankings of colleges, which can rely on peer review and other qualitative measures.

University administrators are attributing the results to the large presence that U of C professors hold in academia.

“Scholars are leading voices in intellectual exchanges online and in all forms,” University spokesperson Jeremy Manier said. “Brilliant people who work here do a lot to put this out so the University is a leading voice to intellectual discussions online.”

Manier attributes the increase in the U of C’s online presence to a joint effort by the News Office, as well as current students, alumni, and faculty who are popular news sources online. Last year, the University launched official Facebook and Twitter accounts. Since May, the two sites have garnered approximately 28,100 fans and followers.

In April of last year, the University also bolstered its YouTube channel, including lectures from notable speakers and professors, a student-led tour of campus, and videos highlighting various Hyde Park events and locales.

Among some of the prominent Internet names affiliated with the University are New York Times bloggers Economics Professor Steven Levitt and Nate Silver (A.B. ’00), contributor Richard Epstein, blogger Tucker Max (A.B. ’98), and Wonkette founder Ana Marie Cox (A.B. ’94), who has over 1.4 million Twitter followers.