Bio

Ralph Schroeder is Professor in Social Science of the Internet at the Oxford Internet Institute. He is also the director of its MSc programme in Social Science of the Internet. Before coming to Oxford University, he was Professor in the School of Technology Management and Economics at Chalmers University in Gothenburg (Sweden). His publications include Social Theory after the Internet: Media, Technology and Globalization (UCL Press, 2018) Knowledge Machines: Digital Transformations of the Sciences and Humanities (MIT Press, 2015, co-authored with Eric T. Meyer), 'An Age of Limits: Social Theory for the Twenty-First Century' (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 'Being There Together: Social Interaction in Virtual Environments' (Oxford University Press, 2010) and 'Rethinking Science, Technology and Social Change' (Stanford University Press, 2007). His current research interests include digital media and right-wing populism, and the social Implications of big data.

Research interests

Schroeder will be working on two areas.

1 - Challenges for computational science of new sources of data in relation to statistical techniques, The vast bulk of large-scale data in the social sciences consists of digital media, including Twitter, Facebook, web browsing data, Wikipedia, smartphone location data and the like. Questions about access to these data, their representativeness and replicability and related issues have been much discussed. What has not been discussed to date are the ways in which these digital media data affect certain statistical techniques employed. In certain respects, these new sources affect statistical validity in ways that are different from traditional and commonly used sources of data, such as undertaking multiple regression on large-scale survey responses or national censuses or purposefully designed experiments.

2 - Lessons from the application of personal data identifier schemes to the populations of world's two largest countries, India and China. This project compares two efforts that are arguably the single biggest current applications of capturing and deploying the analysis of personal data anywhere; Aadhaar in India and the social credit system in China. These two efforts are comparable because the aim of both is to create national databases which can be used to promote social development. There are also major differences, apart from the obvious difference between an authoritarian regime and an imperfect democracy. The implementations of both systems will have profound implications for other countries.