Social Science Matrix and D-Lab have received a grant from the Social Science Research Council’s Social Data Research and Dissertation Fellowship program to pursue a new, year-long initiative entitled “Solidarity and Strife: Democracies in a Time of Pandemic.”
Focusing on social media datasets culled from Twitter, Reddit, and Youtube, this project takes a comparative approach to assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on political polarization and solidarity in the United States and the United Kingdom—two nations governed by populist leaders who initially denied the seriousness of the viral outbreak. It will examine public discourse surrounding the forthcoming US elections and the actualization of Brexit in the context of the pandemic.
Under the mentorship of the principal investigators — Marion Fourcade, Professor of Sociology at UC Berkeley and Director of Social Science Matrix; David Harding, Professor of Sociology at UC Berkeley and Director of D-Lab; and Claudia von Vacano, Executive Director of D-Lab and Digital Humanities at Berkeley — at least two graduate student research teams will attend to the dialectics of solidarity and strife that are shaping contemporary political processes and animating social media movements in these two democracies. Working together, the researchers will develop an innovative methodology for evaluating the intersection between the pandemic and democratic discourse, using sentiment analysis jointly with user accounts’ meta-data to measure political cohesion and polarization.
To situate the study of the social media landscapes in conversations about emerging best practices, two complementary research initiatives will be formed: a data-intensive training program for the graduate student researchers and a cross-disciplinary seminar series. The seminars will ground topic-specific inquiry in ethical reflections that are rooted in political economy, setting qualitative frames around methodological and ethical questions.
The project is enlisting a team of graduate student researchers (Social Media Research Fellows), who will be trained in data science tools and methods and will realize their own research projects within the context of the research initiative. Social Media Research Fellows work under the mentorship of the principal investigators.
Beyond Competition: Alternative Discovery Procedures & The Postcapitalist Public Sphere
A Lecture by Evgeny Morozov, Author, The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom and To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism
Abstract: One of Friedrich Hayek’s most celebrated essays — “Competition as a Discovery Procedure” (1968) — tells us tantalizing little about the existence of other such procedures. Hayek’s insistence that competition is the surest and most reliable technique of eliciting innovation is well reflected in today’s digital landscape, dominated as it is by digital platforms, with their stated goal of facilitating market exchange. Yet, beyond Hayek’s favorite bugbear of central planning, there surely must be other ways of “discovery” — even if they do not currently “scale” as well as the techniques of competition. This talk will explore the intellectual and political benefits of placing “discovery” at the center of our debate about the future of the digital public sphere and suggest potential directions for adequate policy-making on the issue.
About the Speaker: Evgeny Morozov is the author of The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom (2011) and To Save Everything, Click Here (2013). He is also the founder and the publisher of The Syllabus, a knowledge curation initiative. He holds a PhD in History of Science from Harvard University.
This event was co-sponsored by the Algorithmic Fairness and Opacity Group.
Recorded on January 29, 2021, this video features Joshua A. Tucker, Professor of Politics, affiliated Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies, and affiliated Professor of Data Science at New York University. In his lecture, Tucker discussed his recent research, which focused on understanding how well can ordinary people do in identifying the veracity of news in real time. Using a unique research design, Tucker compared the performance of both ordinary citizens and professional fact checkers in identifying fake news, and gained insights into the individual-level characteristics of those likely to incorrectly identify false news stories as true. He also researched what interventions can reduce the prevalence of this behavior, and the prospects for crowdsourcing to serve as a viable means for identifying false news stories in real time. He also reported preliminary findings from a replication of this study focusing exclusively on news about COVID-19.
Recorded on February 19, 2021, this video features a lecture by Joan Donovan, Research Director for the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University. Dr. Donovan leads the field in examining internet and technology studies, online extremism, media manipulation, and disinformation campaigns. Dr. Donovan leads The Technology and Social Change Project (TaSC), which explores how media manipulation is a means to control public conversation, derail democracy, and disrupt society. TaSC conducts research, develops methods, and facilitates workshops for journalists, policy makers, technologists, and civil society organizations on how to detect, document, and debunk media manipulation campaigns. Dr. Donovan's research and teaching interests are focused on media manipulation, effects of disinformation campaigns, and adversarial media movements.