New Article: Diffusion Dynamics

Entropy 
Baños, R., Borge-Holthoefer, J., Wang, N., Moreno, Y., and González-Bailón, S. (2013). “Diffusion Dynamics with Changing Network Composition”, Entropy (special issue on Social Networks and Information Diffusion), 15(11): 4553-4568

Abstract: We analyze information diffusion using empirical data that tracks online communication around two instances of mass political mobilization that took place in Spain in 2011 and 2012. We also analyze protest-related communications during the year that elapsed between those protests. We compare the global properties of the topological and dynamic networks through which communication took place, as well as local changes in network composition. We show that changes in network structure underlie aggregated differences on how information diffused: an increase in network hierarchy is accompanied by a reduction in the average size of cascades. The increasing hierarchy affects not only the underlying communication topology but also the more dynamic structure of information exchange; the increase is especially noticeable amongst certain categories of nodes (or users). Our findings suggest that the relationship between the structure of networks and their function in diffusing information is not as straightforward as some theoretical models of diffusion in networks imply.

Workshop: Social Media and Political Participation

A one-day workshop was organized today by the NYU’s Center for Social and Political Behavior. Other invited participants included faculty members and graduate students from Princeton, NYU, GWU, UNC, and Berkman.

Workshop: Collective Behaviors and Networks

collective contagion 2013 
This one-day satellite workshop on computational social science was organized as part of the 2013 European Conference on Complex Systems (ECCS’13). Sandra González-Bailón presented the paper “The Bridges and Brokers of Global Campaigns in Social Media” (joint work with Ning Wang).

New Article: Social Science in the Era of Big Data

González-Bailón, S. (2013). “Social Science in the Era of Big Data”,  Policy & Internet, 5(2): 147-160

Abstract: Digital technologies keep track of everything we do and say while we are online, and we spend online an increasing portion of our time. Databases hidden behind web services and applications are constantly fed with information of our movements and communication patterns, and a significant dimension of our lives, quantified to unprecedented levels, gets stored in those vast online repositories. This article considers some of the implications of this torrent of data for social science research, and for the types of questions we can ask of the world we inhabit. The goal of the article is twofold: to explain why, in spite of all the data, theory still matters to build credible stories of what the data reveal; and to show how this allows social scientists to revisit old questions at the intersection of new technologies and disciplinary approaches. The article also considers how Big Data research can transform policymaking, with a focus on how it can help us improve communication and governance in policy-relevant domains.