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Media@Sydney: Data science meets social science

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MECO Seminar Room S226

John Woolley Building A20

University of Sydney

Sydney, NSW 2006

Australia

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Data science meets social science: Mapping the anti-vaccination movement on Facebook

Dr Timothy Graham
Research School of Computer Science; Research School of Social Sciences

Australian National University


The increasing availability of digital datasets via the web and social media have provided social scientists with unprecedented opportunities to study individual and group activity at scale. New (sub)disciplines such as digital humanities, computational social science, and digital sociology have emerged out of this landscape, providing an exciting research environment where the social meets the computational. In this seminar I highlight and discuss some of the key opportunities, challenges, and open problems for using data science methods in social science research. To explore this space, I draw on examples and experiences from my own research collaborations, in particular a recently published study that combines advanced computational methods with social theory and traditional qualitative analysis to map and study the anti-vaccination movement on Facebook. I focus on three methods in particular: social network analysis, topic modelling, and gender modelling using natural language processing and historical census data. In doing so, I seek to draw attention to how computational social science involves much more than simply throwing data science techniques at social data.

Timothy Graham is Postdoctoral Fellow at the Australian National University, with a joint appointment in Sociology and Computer Science. His research is at the nexus of social theory and data science, with a particular focus on online networks, platform architectures, and social bots. His most recent work includes: a big data analysis of the anti-vaccination movement on Facebook; examining the role and influence of social bots during the 1st U.S. Presidential Debate on Twitter; and developing a theory of 'hyper-choice' in relation to large-scale platforms such as TripAdvisor and Yelp. In addition, Timothy is currently CI on an ARC Discovery Project that examines government web portals using large-scale hyperlink network analysis.

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MECO Seminar Room S226

John Woolley Building A20

University of Sydney

Sydney, NSW 2006

Australia

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