1 - Orientation

January 21

Please attend an the entire class zoom session from 12:30-1 (link available in our Slack workspace).

2 - Introduction

January 24-30

Please attend your one-on-one meeting with Dr. Bail at your regularly scheduled time.

Can Data Science Help us Fight COVID-19?

Required Reading:

Optional Materials:

Lab: Getting Started with RStudio

Getting Started with RStudio Ungraded Assignment: Install R and R Studio
Optional Resource:

3 - Ethics

January 31-February 6

Please attend the small group discussion section on 12:30-1:30pm Tuesday.

We will discuss the following questions:

  1. Should researchers always be required to get the consent of the people they study?
  2. Is there ever a point where the scientific value of research should trump ethical concerns?
  3. Are the old ethical guidelines that Matt Salganik discusses in his book “Bit by bit” sufficient, or do we need new ones for the post-COVID era?

Ethics in Computational Social Science

Required Reading:

Optional Materials:

Lab: R Basics

R Basics Lab #1 (Due by 11:59PM 02/06)

Materials from Video:
Optional Resource:

4 - Social Media & Polarization

February 7-February 13

Please attend your one-on-one meeting with Dr. Bail at your regularly scheduled time.

Do our Platforms Push us Apart?

Required Reading:

Optional Materials:

Lab: Data Wrangling

Video Lecture: Data "Wrangling" Lab #2 (Due by 11:59PM 02/13)

Materials from Video:
Optional resources:

5 - The Echo Chamber

February 14-20

Please attend your small group Zoom meeting from 12:30-1:30pm Tuesday.

We will discuss the following questions:

  1. A major limitation of the study we read this week is that it only examined Twitter users– do you think exposing people to opposing views on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or other platforms would have a similar effect? Why or Why not?
  2. The study found that Republicans tend to double-down in their pre-existing views when they are exposed to opposing views more strongly than Democrats - develop some hypotheses about why this might have happened;
  3. The accounts retweeted by the bots in the study retweeted high profile “opinion leaders” (e.g. elected officials, journalists, etc). Do you think the effects would have been different if they had retweeted non-elite partisans instead?

Should we Break our Echo Chambers?

Required reading:

Optional Materials:

Lab: Visualization

Video Lecture: Data Visualization Lab #3 (Due by 11:59PM 02/20)

Materials from Video:
Required resources:
Optional resources:

6 - Social Networks and Health

February 21-27

Please attend your one-on-one meeting with Dr. Bail at your regularly scheduled time.

The Hidden Influence of Social Networks

Required reading:

Optional Materials:

Lab: Programming Basics

Video Lecture: Programming Lab #4 (Due by 11:59PM 02/27)

Materials from Video:
Optional Resources:

7 - Getting a Job

February 28-March 6

Please attend your small group Zoom meeting from 12:30-1:30pm Tuesday.

How to find a job (and Succeed Once you Get One)

Required reading:

Optional Materials:

Lab: Coding Social Networks

Video Lecture: Coding Networks Lab #5 (Due by 11:59PM 03/06)

Materials from Video:
Required reading:
Optional resources:

8 - Surveillance and Privacy

March 7-13

One-on-one meetings cancelled this week for “spring break.” If you just can’t get enough computational social science, check out this video documentary!

Surveillance Capitalism (Shoshana Zuboff)

Optional reading:

Optional Materials:

Lab: Working with APIs

Lab #6 (Due by 11:59PM 03/13)

Optional reading:
  • R wrapper for the Spotify API
  • R wrapper for the Twitter API,
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    9 - Algorithms and Discrimination

    March 14-20

    Please attend your small group Zoom meeting from 12:30-1:30pm Tuesday.

    We will discuss the following questions:

    1. Have you, personally, ever experienced an algorithm recommend something to you that you think might create social inequality? If so, tell the rest of your group about it.
    2. In this class, we always encourage you to evaluate issues with evidence or data. Can you think of a way to design a study that could measure whether algorithms create social inequality?
    3. Google, Facebook, and many other large companies have created large teams specifically dedicated to creating fairness in Artificial Intelligence. Do you think it’s possible for people on those teams to independently audit or evaluate social inequality without some type of bias?

    Challenging the Algorithms of Oppression (Safiya Noble)

    Required reading:

    Optional Materials:

    Modeling (A Brief Introduction)

    Lab #7 (Due by 11:59PM 03/20)

    Materials from Video:
    Required reading:

    10 - Hate Speech & Radicalization

    March 21-27

    Please attend your one-on-one meeting with Dr. Bail at your regularly scheduled time.

    Using Google Search to Track Radicalization

    Required reading:

    Optional Materials:

    Lab: Intro to text data

    11 - Misinformation and Trolling

    March 28-April 3

    Please attend your small group Zoom meeting from 12:30-1:30pm Tuesday.

    Discussion questions for this week:

    1. Have you ever been the target of trolling or a misinformation campaign? Was it successful? Why or why not?
    2. Do you think we need new studies to examine the role of misinformation about COVID that may be different than the type propagated by the Russia-linked IRA?
    3. What types of policies do you think that social media companies and the government should consider to address misinformation, if any?

    Did Russia’s Social Media Campaign Succeed?

    Required reading:

    Optional Materials:

    Lab: Word counts and Dictionaries

    Lab #9 (Due by 11:59PM 04/03)

    Materials from Video:
    Required reading:
    Optional resources:

    12 - Protest and Censorship

    April 4- April 10

    Please attend your one-on-one meeting with Dr. Bail at your regularly scheduled time (some meetings this week may need to be rescheduled).

    Online Social Change (Zeynep Tufekci)

    Required Reading

    Gary King et al. 2014. Reverse Engineering Censorship in China.

    Optional Materials:

    Lab: Your First Topic Model

    Lab #10 (Due by 11:59PM 04/10)

    Materials from Video:
    Required reading:
    Optional resources:

    13 - Wellness Week

    April 11-17

    No Lectures/Lab or meetings… work on final projects!

    14 - Open Lab

    April 18-24

    (Discuss your final project or any other topic you wish during one-on-one meetings with Dr. Bail at your regularly scheduled time)

    Regularly scheduled TA office hours will also be available.

    Required reading:

    Optional Materials:

    Lab: Communicating Your Research

    No graded assignment this week-- apply communication or collaboration skills to your final project instead.

    15 - Final Presentations

    April 25-May 1

    Final presentation times:

    • Monday, April 26 @ 1-3pm
    • Tuesday, April 27 @ 1-3pm

    Final paper DUE Saturday May 1st at 5pm EDT