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17:00 Uhr - 18:30 Uhr | Weizenbaum Institute, Hardenbergstraße 32, 10623 Berlin, Room A1 03-A1 05

Sandra González-Bailón: Communication and the Hidden Architecture of Collective Behavior

Sandra González-Bailón will discuss her research about communication and the hidden architecture of collective behavior.

Communication has always been the force that makes a collection of people more than the sum of individuals, but only now we can explain why: digital technologies have made it possible to parse the information we generate by being social in new, imaginative ways. In this talk, González-Bailón will discuss recent research uncovering the hidden architecture of collective behavior through the analysis of digital traces. She will focus on empirical research in the field of political communication, with special emphasis on the analysis of social media, mobilisation dynamics, and information diffusion.

She will describe how communication generates social dynamics in aggregate (leading to episodes of “collective effervescence”) and she will discuss the mechanisms that underlie large-scale diffusion, when information and behavior spread like “wildfire”. She will use the theory of networks to illuminate why collective outcomes can differ drastically even when they arise from the same individual actions. Internet technologies, she will argue, have made social influence and the complexity of networks easier to analyse – but also more volatile in their effects.