how to hang out with computer scientists
I’ve recently argued that sociology has an amazing opportunity. The emergence of data science means that you should have people who really understand research design and social behavior. It doesn’t mean that sociology will automatically reap the benefits. Rather, we’ll have to work at it. My suggestions:
- Sociology programs should now make basic programming a standard feature of the undergrad and graduate degree.
- We have to have an internal discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of Internet generated data, much in the same way that there is a literature on the pros and cons of surveys, experiments, and ethnography.
We should also reach out to our colleagues:
- Start cross-over workshops.
- Reach out to faculty who already work with behavioral data by offering to help with grants
- Personally, I’ve found it hard to work with CS graduate students. They have the normal level of grad student instability + six figure paychecks waiting for them outside of academia. But still, some are very curious, super smart, and willing to think about behavioral science.
The major barrier, in my view, is the differing publication style. CS happens very, very quickly – sometimes in a manner of weeks, while sociology is slow. We have to stop that.