2.6 Big data: Analog age vs. digital age (1)

  • Analog age: Data used for social research mostly created for this purpose (Salganik 2017, 14)
  • Digital age: Huge amounts of corporate/government data generated for other purposes; creative people realized that you can repurpose that data (Salganik 2017, 14)
    • Repurposing creates new challenges (Twitter vs. General Social Survey)
  • Obvious data vs. less obvious data
    • Obvious: Search engine logs, social media posts
    • Less obvious
      • Corporate bigdata sources come from digital devices in the physical world: Supermarket checkout data, mobile phone records, billing data by electric utilities (Salganik 2017, 15)
      • Government administrative records: Tax records, school records, and vital statistics records (e.g., registriesof births and deaths)
  • Digitization has changed accessability (e.g., New York City government’s digital taxi meters)


Salganik, Matthew J. 2017. Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age. Princeton University Press.