Laura Norén, Noshir Contractor, and Wei Wang Discuss How Social Data Is Changing Network and Communication Science with Online Collaborative Methods
Recommendation Systems and People
Why haven’t recommendation systems, like those used by Amazon, Netflix, etc. evolved to recommending people? Looking beyond dating sites, the panel discussed the example of connecting a customer with a relevant stylist at a department store, or connecting like-minded developers at a hackathon and why there currently isn’t a good system to do this. Nosher pointed out that there is a lot of data about individuals that isn’t captured as the key missing element. To facilitate the creation of more sophisticated recommendation systems, more comprehensive data on individuals needs to be tracked.
Combining Ethnographies and Quantitative Analysis
Laura illustrated how ethnographies compliment quantitative analysis through an example of research on the food blogging community. Food bloggers as a community face specific challenges that impact the type of influencers with whom they engage. Understanding this context wouldn’t be possible without taking the time to actually sit down with these bloggers and influencers and understand what they’re Tweeting—when, why, and in what situations—to truly be able to capture the full context of how this community engages with influencers
How Can Academia Work with Industry?
Panelists noted that there needs to be continued exploration of ways to make research productive and beneficial for industry. With regard to what they need to further the relationship between the two, they highlighted that funding is actually not the most critical issue in working on research projects. Access to data is. Researchers and academics need the ability to mash together different kinds of data, in addition to the ability to reuse data so that it is not necessary to always start from scratch.
Overall, major themes of the panel were: that qualitative analysis is an important aspect of this research that shouldn’t be ignored, reproducibility of the research conducted in academia is of paramount importance, and that research projects should ultimately be beneficial and relevant to the industry as a whole.