Transactional Data Experiments. On the calibration of digital traces for sociological use

PhD-defence: Tobias Bornakke
Can voting behaviour be predicted based solely on a few “likes” on Facebook? Is it possible to measure the intensity of a party, the ‘partiness’, solely through the sensors embedded in your personal smartphone? And what does the same phone’s Bluetooth antenna reveal about the emotional closeness you feel toward your colleagues? Responding to such questions have been the venture of Tobias Bornakke’s dissertation Transactional Data Experiments: On the calibration of digital traces for sociological use.
The dissertation responds to these questions from two distinct perspectives. Firstly, through the participation in more than 10 autonomous experiments the dissertation explores the social meaning that can ascribed to some of the digital traces we leave behind; e.g. showing how political Facebook likes can be used as a strong measure for our political orientations. Secondly, the dissertation conceptualises such ‘data experiments’ as a dual focused practice of experimenting both withdata, seeking to produce thematic analytical results, and on data, seeking to stabilise traces by linking them to theoretical meanings and methodological conventions.
Through this work the dissertation argues for the concept of ‘data experiments’ as a general applicable approach for transforming untested digital traces into valuable social measures thereby highly relevant for fellow scholars wishing to proceed in a quest to develop new digitally based measures.
October 26, at 1 PM.
Københavns Universitet, Center for Sundhed og Samfund, Sociologisk Institut, Øster Farimagsgade 5, 1353 København K, lokale 25.01.53.