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National Research University Higher School of EconomicsResearch DepartmentsInstitute of EducationNewsIOE Researcher Takes Part in Network Science Conference in Israel

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IOE Researcher Takes Part in Network Science Conference in Israel

On January 15–18, the HSE Institute of Education doctoral student and junior researcher Ivan Smirnov took part in the NetSci-X International Conference on Network Science.

This year, it was the Israeli city of Tel Aviv that hosted NetSci-X, which is a regular winter forum of NetSci, a world-recognized interdisciplinary venue for opinion exchange and cooperation in network science. In recent years, this research area has leaped way ahead with ample prospects for further development, driven by synergetic innovation in IT & data science, information & communication environments, human–computer interaction, and social networking.

The 2017 conference gathered a string of renowned speakers, including Albert-László Barabási, Alex Pentland, and Lada Adamic, among others.

A presentation by Professor Barabási, an acclaimed international expert in network systems and technology, spotlighted a recent study of correlations between publishing productivity, impact, and success in one’s academic career. Remarkably, impact seems to have little dependence on academic rank or career stage, as highest-impact papers have roughly the same probability to occur at various steps of academic career ladder, the study finds.               

Alex Pentland, a Forbes top-seven data scientist who has contributed to the launch of MIT Media Lab, focused on social physics, where media tracking and complex data analysis tools co-work to provide fresh insights into human communication models, mutual attitudes, and behaviour in digital-driven settings. At NetSci-X, Pentland featured a study addressing mismatches between assumed and actual perceptions of ‘friendship’ and ‘friends’ by various social community members, which is challenging for experts from the standpoint of ascertaining the intrinsic nature of relationships within particular netizen clusters and, accordingly, fairly assessing the potential of digital networking in building more cooperative and productive society.       

Facebook’s lead data science expert Lada Adamic talked about trends in Facebook memes as well as integration patterns in the US immigrant communities.

Also, when sharing his impressions of NetSci-X, Ivan Smirnov gave special mention to the flagship Copenhagen Networks Study (CNS). At NetSci-X, the latest progress with this endeavour was reported by Sune Lehmann, an Associate Professor with the Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science at the Technical University of Denmark.

Set at the junction of Big Data and social studies, CNS is multi-year research of immense scale and intensity, where the project team seeks to bring breaking innovation into the method & practice of identifying community clusters and analyzing the inherent human interactions by employing data from various communication channels and with high temporal resolution (five minutes). Key inputs are sourced from smartphones of 1,000 students, and include data on physical location, phone calls, text messages, Facebook interactions, as well as GPS data. Further, these feeds are supplemented by findings obtained via face-to-face student surveying.

The study that I have presented explores social segregation in digital communication environments. While increasingly more research is being done on issues of social fragmentation and inequality, little attention has been paid so far, I think, to the effects that a surge in digital innovation has brought. For one thing, the internet means broader and more enthralling opportunities to network, learn, and ultimately to achieve more in this life by transcending the restrictions of one’s immediate social and economic environment. For another, thriving internet technology often works to foster segregation and hamper social mobility.

 

  Ivan Smirnov, Junior Researcher, IOE Centre for Education Innovation

In his three-and-a-half year study, Ivan tracked developments in networking preferences and interplay within a sample of 6,580 schoolers and university students, based on data from VKontakte, a popular social networking site in Russia. The research has found this digital environment to exhibit strong segregation by the academic performance factor, where the key driving force is the formation of new community links and expanding communication among youngsters of similar academic achievement, amid a tendency to break up with those community members who stand apart.

 

 

Set at the junction of Big Data and social studies, CNS is multi-year research of immense scale and intensity, where the project team seeks to bring breaking innovation into the method & practice of identifying community clusters and analyzing the inherent human interactions by employing data from various communication channels and with high temporal resolution (five minutes). Key inputs are sourced from smartphones of 1,000 students, and include data on physical location, phone calls, text messages, Facebook interactions, as well as GPS data. Further, these feeds are supplemented by findings obtained via face-to-face student surveying.

The study that I have presented tackles social segregation in digital communication environments. While increasingly more research is being done on issues of social fragmentation and inequality, little attention has been paid so far, I think, to the two-sided effect that a surge in digital innovation has brought. For one thing, the internet means broader and more enthralling opportunities to network, learn, and ultimately achieve more in this life by transcending the restrictions of one’s immediate social and economic environment. For another, thriving internet technology often works to foster segregation and hamper social mobility.

 

 

 

Ivan Smirnov, Junior Researcher, IOE Centre for Education Innovation

   

In his three-and-a-half-year study, Ivan tracked developments in networking preferences and interplay within a sample of 6,580 schoolers and university students, based on data from VKontakte, a popular social networking site in Russia. The research has found this digital environment to exhibit strong segregation by the academic performance factor, where the key driving force is the formation of new community links and expanding communication among youngsters of similar academic achievement, amid a tendency to break up with those community members who stand apart.