Week 08: Researching the Trans Community with Reddit

Two recent articles have analyzed Reddit discussion forums to investigate issues specific to the transgender community. Farber (2017) investigates how transgender men create and recreate their gender through fitness, conceptualizing fitness as a technology or a tool to be used towards an end, rather than simply a state of being.…

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Week 06: “Public” Sociology and Twitter Sampling

Social scientists in general, and sociologists in particular, have begun to develop methodologies for using Twitter data in research, and have also sought to better reach and educate a more general audience, a practice called public sociology. Schneider and Simonetto (2016) recently used the former to investigate whether sociologists use…

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Week 05: Participatory Culture, For Which People?

Clay Shirky is a techno-optimist. Whether imagining how a distributed version control system like Git could overhaul our legislative process for the better (Shirky 2012) or reflecting upon the increased generosity that results from relying upon social constraints rather than economic ones (Shirky 2010), he believes that social media and…

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Week 04: The Shape of Privacy

While the extent to which Facebook and other social media networks are participatory may be up for debate, the opportunities for new and expanded research provided by these platforms is not. Earlier research around audiences of corporate media channels primarily used focus groups or polling of a carefully-selected sample, but…

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Week 03: Justice, Not Fairness

The transfer of power from human to computerized decision-making threatens to make our society less just and equitable at ever-faster speeds. This is true from a purely physical standpoint; companies are investing millions of dollars to construct their own private networks and to locate themselves as closely to network distribution…

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Week 02: Big Data Rewards and Risks

According to the Transport Accident Commission, approximately 20% of road fatalities in Victoria, Australia are due to driver fatigue. Researchers from many disciplines are excited about the opportunities that big data does, or perhaps will, make possible. Kenneth Cukier (2014), a journalist, identifies big data as a tool for societal…

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Week 01: Star Trek and Feedback Loops

I’m Ryan Brazell, my pronouns are he or they, and I grew up outside Jacksonville FL. Now, I live near Forest Hill Park in Richmond and work full-time at the University of Richmond on the west end. My primary focus is supporting faculty in the social sciences, but in reality…

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Building Better Games, Not More Resilient Selves

Sexism exists in both online and offline spaces, because both kinds of spaces (and those that fall somewhere in between) are constructed both physically and socially by humans who carry our prejudicial thoughts and behavior with us wherever we go. However, discrimination in general and misogyny specifically play out differently…

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What Counts as Identity Theft?

Many of the arguments in favor of net neutrality rely heavily on the idea that the internet is, as President Barack Obama said, “one of the most significant democratizing influences the world has ever known.” While that statement might be true in some ways, it’s not the whole truth. Initially…

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