Laura Hale is a PhD student at the University of Canberra. She is currently working on a thesis about social media methodologies. She came on the Quoracast to talk about her pursuit of an effective strategy to studying social media.
“It helps explain my world.”
“For me, playing with the data is very relevant to what I do. At some level, it’s easier to do stuff on a short-term basis. I can just grab a set of data and work on it.”
From an early age, Laura actively studied the social world around her.
“My dad said that teachers tend to call on boys more than girls, and I started tracking that. I showed the data to the teachers and they were not amused.”
“The higher-level point of my thesis is to develop a methodology for looking at social media data. Many times you can use smaller data sets to make decisions about data. They don’t need to have huge patterns with all sorts of math. You can do things like mean, median, mode.”
Laura has applied this in her research into correlations on Quora.
“The problem with Quora data is that there is no public API. And you also cannot scrape data. But if you keep repeating little experiments you can begin to get an idea about what variables matter. I went through posts with pictures and counted them manually. Once I have the data, I look for patterns. Graphs are helpful.”
“At this point, because I have done so many of these things, I have developed a sense. If something doesn’t fit, I have a pretty good idea of it. When you are getting the same consistent results time after time after time, there is enough truth in it that things can be reliable.”
“The results are nice, but the methodology is more important to me.”