Beyond Gigs of Log Data: The Challenges of Studying Social Behavior based on People’s Digital Footprint

Eszter Hargg 

Wednesdays@NICO Seminar, Noon, May 11 2011, Chambers Hall, Lower Level

Prof. Eszter Hargittai, Northwestern University


Increasingly, research about the social world relies on log data from people’s behavior on certain Web sites and using various digital services. What are the challenges of studying social phenomena based on such data? What are important considerations when analyzing the digital traces of people’s social behavior? Using unique data collected about the online experiences of diverse groups of people, this talk will discuss how user background is related to the adoption of certain sites and services (e.g., Twitter, Facebook) and the implications of these findings for work based on log data.


Eszter Hargittai is Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Faculty Associate of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University where she heads the Web Use Project. She is also Fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society where she spent the 2008/09 academic year in residence. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Princeton University where she was a Wilson Scholar. Hargittai's research focuses on the social and policy implications of digital media with a particular interest in how differences in people's Web-use skills influence what they do online and how this in turn influences people's well-being. Her work has received awards from the American Sociological Association, the Eastern Sociological Society, the International Communication Association, the National Communication Association and the Telecommunications Policy Research Conference. In 2010, the International Communication Association selected her to receive its Outstanding Young Scholar Awar Hargittai is editor of "Research Confidential: Solutions to Problems Most Social Scientists Pretend They Never Have" (University of Michigan Press 2009). For more information, see and