Week 12: Knock Me Down Nine Times But I GitHub Ten

As a tech optimist, Clay Shirky believes in the transformative power of many technologies, including GitHub — a platform that allows programmers to collaboratively write code. By assigning unique numerical IDs to each edit made by a programmers, GitHub allows users to easily resolve conflicts and to revert back to…

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Week 11: But Her Emails

Much of our focus in this class has been on collecting data publicly accessible via the web, and while social media platforms are an important data source, so are other less trendy digital platforms. For this week’s post, I reviewed two articles that made use of email as a data…

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Week 10: Scraping Data for Research

The internet provides myriad conveniences, among others the ability to purchase most anything from the comfort and privacy of our homes — including illegal drugs through digital black markets called cryptomarkets. These sites use advanced technological methods to obscure the identity of buyers and sellers, but they are not without…

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Week 09: Reddit Research Redux

Just last month, Moore and Abetz (2019) published a study using Reddit to investigate parental communication of regret around having had children. As with other studies which use Reddit as a data source, the authors selected threads which met certain criteria. In this case, the threads needed to contain at…

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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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