Information systems and algorithms are now shaping the human experience more than ever before – from the birth of a child to the most pivotal moments in our society.
Social media, search engines, and other sources of large-scale textual data (e.g. Wikipedia) provide unprecedented amounts of information about human behavior both in richness and granularity. This information enables reexamination of old and news questions from the social sciences around consumption of information by individuals, social interactions, political communication and more.
At the same time, the scale and heterogeneity of data from these sources present new methodological challenges that hinder principled analysis and robust inference about human behavior.
The goal of this course is to introduce students to new computational social science methods and tools required to explore and harness the potential of “Big Data” in online social settings and to develop critical – yet constructive – thinking about the social gravity of algorithms and information systems.