Andreas Weigend | Social Data Revolution | Fall 2012
School of Information | University of California at Berkeley | INFO 290A-3

What is the Social Data Revolution?

September 2012 edition (Sayantan Mukhopadhyay )

There has been a long standing debate for ages about the source of knowledge a person acquires over time. Is that individually or by means of social interactions? With the awake of Web 2.0 at the end of last millennium the perception of human communication has changed dynamically. Not only it successfully made faster exchange of information but it became more inter-personal and collaborative.

From the social science perspective it has been a large paradigm shift also it contributed significantly in the way ‘businesses’ operate. Knowing and unknowing the amount of data created by the users enabled the possibility of knowing them better, which enabled the businesses to make more customer/user-centric strategies and deliver more customized and relevant solutions for their needs.

In this very context, Social Data is the data people create and share knowing and willingly with his friends at least if not the whole world. There are manifold opinions about the classification of Social Data but the data which is only available to some companies (e.g. footprints of a user in Google search engine) and not accessible by all (like the data created by someone in Twitter or Facebook) we are not going to classify those as Social Data. Putting it differently relationships extracted from communication behavior between individuals ("the social graph", e.g., derived from phone calls or comments etc on Facebook) or information that is shared ("socialized") on social media platforms or elsewhere) is social data.

Primarily the essence of Social Data is ‘Sharing’. Through different mode of communication with people or organizations the users share their (im)personal information, suggestions, opinions or solution of problems; and this huge amount of data can be used in multiple ways. In one way this ever-expanding data content (web data is doubling itself in every eighteen months) can be used for creating better services or applications for the users, on the other hand it empowers an unprecedented level of collaboration among individuals from disparate geographies and backgrounds.

This empowerment of collaborative exchange platform is Social Data Revolution (SDR).

Current Wikipedia Entry (started by Jeremy Carr in 2010, TA for

The social data revolution is the shift in human communication patterns towards increased personal information sharing and its related implications, made possible by the rise of social networks in early 2000s. This phenomenon has resulted in the accumulation of unprecedented amounts of public data.[1]
This large and frequently updated data source has been described as a new type of scientific instrument for the social sciences.[2]Several independent researchers have used social data to "nowcast" and forecast trends such as unemployment, flu outbreaks, travel spending and political opinions in a way that is faster, more accurate and cheaper than standard government reports or Gallup polls.[2]
Social data refers to data individuals create that is knowingly and voluntarily shared by them. Cost and overhead previously rendered this semi-public form of communication unfeasible, but advances in social networking technology from 2004-2010 has made broader concepts of sharing possible.[3] The types of data users are sharing include geolocation, medical data,[4] dating preferences, open thoughts, interesting news articles, etc.
Early examples of social data are Craigslist and the wishlists of Both enable users to communicate information to anybody who is looking for it. They differ in their approach to identity. Craigslist leverages the power of anonymity, while leverages the power of persistent identity, based on the history of the customer with the firm. The job market is even being shaped by the information people share about themselves on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook.[5]
Examples of more mature social data are Twitter and Facebook. On Twitter, sending a message or tweet is as simple as sending an SMS text message. Twitter made this C2W, customer to world: Any tweet a users sends can potentially be read by the entire world. Facebook focuses on interactions between friends, C2C in traditional language. It provides many ways for collecting data from its users: “tag” a friend in a photo, “comment” on what they posted, or just “like” it. These data are the basis for sophisticated models of the relationships between users. They can be used to significantly increase the relevance of what is shown to the user, and for advertising purposes.[6]

See also


  1. ^ "The Social Data Revolution". Harvard Business Review. Retrieved July 15, 2009.
  2. ^ //**a**// //**b**// Hubbard, Douglas (2011). Pulse: The New Science of Harnessing Internet Buzz to Track Threats and Opportunities. John Wiley & Sons.
  3. ^ "Social Data Revolution". Posterous. Dec, 2009. Retrieved 7/8/2010.
  4. ^ "Health, not Health Care!". Huffington Post. March 23, 2010. Retrieved 6/8/2010.
  5. ^ "Future of Jobs & Social Data Revolution". June 26, 2009. Retrieved 7/2/2010.
  6. ^ "The Coming Ad Revolution". The Wall Street Journal. February 11, 2008. Retrieved 4/10/2010.

Also check the following link for reference: