Living by Numbers: Big Data and Society
This series of four lectures raised questions about the nature of developments associated with the availability and analysis of large datasets (big data) and the implications for core aspects of everyday life.
What is the digital future and how will it significantly change our lives and how we do research?
Questions relating to uncertainty over the assembly and holding of data, its communication and usage, methods of analysis, and potential beneficiaries were at the heart of the lecture series which aims to discuss the assumptions, expectations, trends and research methods carried forward by the increasing digitisation of everyday life.Download the 2016 lecture series poster
Monday 25 January 2016
Twitter and Social Life: Tales from the Frontline of Social Media Research
For most, if not all, the lure of these data is that they offer important insights into the social world: digital traces of the things that people say and do in everyday life, at scale, in real time and over time.However, in the emergent field of social media analysis the challenges of working with these data are becoming increasingly apparent.
This lecture outlined the disciplinary, methodological and ethical challenges of working with social media data and explored some of the routes through which these might be addressed
Speaker: Professor Susan Halford, Director Web Science Institute, University of Southampton.
Monday 1 February 2016
Politics by Numbers: How Social Media Shape Collective Action
The internet and social media bring political change, allowing 'tiny acts' of political participation which can scale up to large-scale mobilisation of millions - but mostly fail.
These new forms of mobilisation increase instability and uncertainty in political systems, challenging policy-makers in both democratic and authoritarian regimes. But they also generate new sources of large-scale data.
Drawing on research carried out for the new book Political Turbulence: How Social Media Shape Collective Action (Margetts, John, Hale and Yasseri, 2015, Princeton University Press), this lecture discussed how social media is changing political systems - and how data science tools and methodologies might be used to understand, explain and even predict the new 'political turbulence'.
Monday 8 February 2016
Big Data, Food Consumption and Food Policy
Collation of data has long been a feature of the food system, but big data does signal a new round in the long tussle between food capital, the state and food democracy. The technical shift in big data creates new opportunities for the transfer of food power between consumers, government and commerce. Public policy is not currently helping the democratisation of these opportunities, despite rhetoric of consumer sovereignty. A new food citizenship is elusive.
This lecture proposed that the 21st century food challenge is no longer a matter of plentiful supply of cheap affordable foods, as the productionists conceived it in the mid 20th century.