Understanding Individual Behavior on Social Media Using a Complexity Perspective


Wednesdays@NICO Seminar, Noon, November 14, Chambers Hall, Lower Level

Prof. William Rand, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland


One dramatic aspect of social media is that it gives everyone a voice; anyone can speak out and express their opinion to a crowd of followers with little cost.  This creates a potentially overwhelming marketplace of ideas.  Given this competition, who do users decide whom to trust to provide them with the information and the recommendations that they want?  Which tastemakers have the greatest influence on social media users?  How do individuals decide what content to create or curate in this complex web of media?  Using agent-based modeling, machine learning and network analysis we examine and shed light on these questions and develop an understanding of the complex system of social media.


William Rand is an assistant professor of Marketing and Computer Science.  He examines the use of computational modeling techniques, like agent-based modeling, GIS, SNA, and machine learning, to analyze complex systems. He serves as the Director of the Center for Complexity in Business, the first center focused solely on the application of complex systems techniques to business and management science.  He received his doctorate in Computer Science from the University of Michigan, and was awarded a postdoctoral research fellowship at Northwestern University in the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO).