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My Notes on Summer School in Computational Social Sciences

For those who want to improve their digital social science skills, in this post, I aim to introduce free and open online education materials of the Summer Institute in Computational Social Science (SICSS) and the talks on just technology organized by SICSS Howard Mathematica.

SICSS founded by Chris Bail ve Matthew J. Salganik has organized summer schools in many cities since 2017. After COVID, some of SICSS partner locations have continued their education program virtually and SICSS Howard-Mathematica, in which I participated, was one of them.

Bearing in mind that there is almost a year before the next summer school, you can benefit from these open and online learning materials by following my instructions below.

1. Bit By Bit, Matt Salganik

My first piece of advice is: Read Bit By Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age. In the book Matt Salganik acknowledges that he considers Computational Social Science (CSS) as a social movement, and in order to mobilize scientists from diverse backgrounds he keeps the borders of this new science flexible. This perspective on CSS explains the great effort behind SICSS. The book is very precious because it reviews both quantitative and qualitative methods with the opportunities and constraints presented by the digital world. In addition, the critical analysis of a number of digital methods applied to research materializes the opportunities created by these new methods.

Click to watch videos Salganik explaining his book

2. Coding

SICSS teaches R programming language. Click to reach the learning materials on basic R, data visualization, data wrangling, basic programming, and modeling explained by Chris Bail. Also, the materials on text analysis will very much develop your computational skills.

While watching videos, you can follow the codes on the “Annotated code” page. This code page is more up-to-date than the videos.

R for Data Science is a great book if you want to study much more on these topics and practice what you learned with quizzes.

Other online sources on R

2. Learn R: R is adopted to this website. There is no need to upload it to your computer. After reading short information about the features of R, you can solve quizzes on the code screen. This website gives you solutions as well.

3. Just Technology

Howard University gives great importance to the conduction of the whole process of both data collection and analysis fairly. Therefore, occasionally in summer school, we listened to people from civil society organizations concerned with just technology such as VaryCSS , CiteBlackWomen, MITRE.

For example:

  • BCT Partners explained their method of preventing unseen prejudices by using the big data

  • André Brock showed how the western technoculture persists through the metaverse which is built upon “white-male” assumption.

  • Courtney D. Cogburn introduced their project called “1000 Cut Journey” in which the white experienced the lives of the black by using VR.

Click to reach other talks on the just technology in the SICSS Howard Mathematica 2022.

Rumeysanur Erikli Doğan


Ph. D. Candidate

Marmara University, Istanbul

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