Politics & Polls #72: Social Research in the Digital Age

Jan 4, 2018
B. Rose Kelly
Woodrow Wilson School

From smart phones to social media, digital technology has changed the way we live — åallowing for new explorations of human behavior. Big Data now enables scientists to process data about human behavior on a scale never before imaginable.

In this episode, Professors Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang interview Matt Salganik, a professor of sociology at Princeton University. Salgnik’s new book, “Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age,” explores these concepts, detailing how the digital revolution is transforming how social scientists observe behavior, ask questions, run experiments and engage in mass collaborations.

Salganik is also affiliated with the Center for Information Technology Policy and the Center for Statistics and Machine Learning at Princeton University. His research has been funded by Microsoft, Facebook, and Google, and has been featured on NPR and in such publications as the New Yorker, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.


Zelizer is the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He has been one of the pioneers in the revival of American political history. He is the author of several books including, most recently, "The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society." Zelizer is a frequent commentator in the international and national media on political history and contemporary politics. He has published more than 600 hundred op-eds, including his weekly column on CNN.com.

Wang is professor of neuroscience and molecular biology at Princeton University. He is known for his books "Welcome to Your Brain" and "Welcome to Your Child's Brain" and for his founding role at the Princeton Election Consortium, a blog providing U.S. election analyses. In 2004, Wang was one of the first to aggregate U.S. presidential polls using probabilistic methods. He has also developed new statistical standards for partisan gerrymandering. A neuroscientist, Wang's academic research focuses on the neuroscience of learning, the cerebellum.