Making Sense of Online Data for Population Research
Stanford, United States, 25 June 2018
The IUSSP Scientific Panel on Big Data and Population Processes organized a workshop on Making Sense of Online Data for Population Research on 25 June 2018 in Stanford, California, as part of the 2018 International Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM). Lee Fiorio of the University of Washington led the organization with the aim of bringing together social scientists and data scientists across academia and industry to discuss challenges and innovative solutions to working with new forms of digital data in demographic research.
Two keynote presentations were given. The first was by Joshua Blumenstock, professor and director of the Data-Intensive Development Lab at University of California, Berkeley. Joshua Blumenstock’s keynote was titled “Real-Time Measures of Poverty and Vulnerability” and described the potential of using mobile data to produce dynamic and spatially granular estimates of relative welfare in developing countries. The second was by Ingmar Weber, research director for Social Computing at the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI). Ingmar Weber’s keynote was titled “Tapping Into Online Advertising Portals for Global Demographic Data” and entailed an engaging demonstration of online advertising APIs and the kinds of demographic analyses they can facilitate.
The workshop also involved two paper sessions. The first paper session, organized thematically around issues related to inference, featured three papers that discussed strategies for inferring a range of demographic behaviors and outcomes from online data including mobility and migration, fertility and fecundity, and drug use. The second paper session, organized thematically around issues related to bias, featured three papers that discussed strategies for assessing, understanding and overcoming bias in online surveys or more indirect forms of inference from social media data. For more detail, see the workshop program.
With over 20 academic scholars and researchers from industry in attendance, there were a number of engaging discussions and connections made. Plans for future collaboration on issues related to data and data quality in population research are in the works.
This activity built on previous initiatives (e.g., the demography and social media workshops at ICWSM in 2016 and 2017) to foster communication between demographers and data scientists.
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Funding: The workshop received support from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research.