If there is one thing hastac.org has in abundance it is data—unanalyzed, unmined, clean, anonymized data. We now have political scientist David Sparks here, the postdoctoral fellow on our NSF EAGER grant, to lead into an analysis of all this data in order to help us understand what we can learn about virtual mentoring, interdisciplinary collaboration, and a range of other insights. David will be studying the content, users, and structure of hastac.org while furthering his own research into social networks.
Our EAGER grant is entitled “Assessing the Impact of Technology-Aided Participation and Mentoring on Transformative Interdisciplinary Research: A Data-Based Study of the Incentives and Success of an Exemplar Academic Network.” David’s doctoral dissertation, completed at Duke University, focused on “Ideological Segregation: Partisanship, Heterogeneity, and Polarization in the United States." He has substantial training in mathematical and visual social network analysis, and social network analysis is the central focus of his research agenda. For one project, he used trace data from approximately 4 million Twitter users and over 500 elites to analyze political preferences and ideological leanings. That kind of complex interconnection of data and social and political questions is what made David our top candidate for this Postdoctoral position. He is particularly skilled in
organizing, modeling, and visualizing multidimensional, large-N data.
Outside of his doctoral dissertation and course work, David worked for several years as a statistical consultant to the Boston Celtics. He is able to draw from multiple sources of multi-modal data and draw insights using a variety of methodological approaches, including computational linguistics, sentiment analysis and topic modeling.
We don’t know what we’ll find from this search but we know it will be rich and interesting. David’s insight, enthusiasm, and excitement over the “complexity” of hastac.org makes us know we are going to emerge with some great information that will help us make hastac.org even better.
David co-authors a blog, in case you are interested in seeing his other work: http://is-r.tumblr.com/ On his blog, he shares his knowledge of best graphical practices. You can also find his work on a second blog: http://dsparks.wordpress.com . He’s a friendly, delightful new addition to the HASTAC central administrative and research team. We all look forward to what will emerge from his deep dive into hastac.org’s data. He’ll be presenting his initial results soon, at our HASTAC 2013 International Conference in Toronto.
Please join us in welcoming David Sparks to HASTAC.