The distribution of public opinion signals social preferences. People make many decisions in their daily lives based on their perception of the opinion climate. Similarly, policymakers formulate policy proposals based on their understanding of public opinion. With digital and social media becoming an integral part of people’s daily lives for information and communication, the proliferation of digital technologies is changing not only how public opinion can be represented, but also how it can be studied. By adopting a big data-based approach, Dr Chris SHEN Fei, Department of Media and Communication, specialising in the social and political impact of new media technologies, has proposed ways of understanding public opinion through online textual mining.