This coming Thursday, Ryan Acton, a computational sociology professor at UMass Amherst, is coming to give a talk on his work investigating “digital traces” online. Ryan has been studying network dynamics on websites such as epinions.com, and last.fm. For example, he’s been analyzing group formation around concerts advertised in last.fm and built an R package called scrapeR to collect data directly from R.
Here is what Ryan says about his presentation:
Much of our routine online activity leaves behind so-called “traces,” or electronic records of those actions. These traces have attracted the attention of social, behavioral, and computational scientists, legal scholars, and marketing experts, among others. As people increasingly incorporate web-based technologies into their daily lives, there are myriad of opportunities to examine human behavior from those traces. How can we use these data, and what can they tell us about human social behavior? In this talk I share some of the tools, methods, and applications from my research on these web-based records of activity. Specifically, I demonstrate their application to social behavioral research contexts, with an emphasis on extracting and studying the social networks that emerge from these data.
Dr. Ryan Acton is a computational sociologist and assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass). Acton is also a core founding member of the interdisciplinary Computational Social Science Initiative (CSSI) at UMass. Trained primarily in the theories and methods of social network analysis, his work focuses on the collection and analysis of social behavioral data from web-based sources. Acton earned his Ph.D. in Sociology (2010) from the University of California, Irvine as a member of the Networks, Computation, and Social Dynamics lab under Dr. Carter T. Butts. Prior to that, he earned his M.A. in Demographic and Social Analysis from UC Irvine (2006), and B.A. degrees in Psychology and Sociology from The Pennsylvania State University (2003).