Studying Social Media: An Interdisciplinary Conversation

Date(s) - 11/17/2011
All Day

Freedom Forum Conference Center, Carroll Hall

Please join us on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011, for an afternoon-long, interdisciplinary conversation about the study of social media. In conjunction with the North Carolina Law Review’s symposium on “Social Networking and the Law,” the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy is hosting this event to bring together social scientists, computer and information scientists, communication scholars, legal academics, and others to discuss why the study of social media is important and the theories and tools that researchers have at their disposal to understand the effects of technological change on society.

Among those attending will be:

  • Deen Freelon, acting assistant professor at the American University School of Communication, who has expertise in mapping and analyzing online content, behavior and outcomes, especially those related to political communication.
  • John McMillian, assistant professor of history at Georgia State University, who studies 20th Century social movements, including how technological changes such as the mimeograph machine affected communication and politics. (He also will be talking about his new book, Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in American (Oxford, 2011), from 10 a.m. to noon Friday, Nov. 18, in the Freedom Forum Conference Center on the third floor of Carroll Hall. Everyone is invited.)
  • Zeynep Tufecki, assistant professor in the UNC School of Information and Library Science, who studies the social impacts of technology, privacy and surveillance, research methods and complex systems.
  • David Ardia, the former director of the Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard who now is an assistant professor in the UNC School of Law and co-director of the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy;
  • Daniel Kreiss, assistant professor in the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication and author of the forthcoming book Taking Our Country Back: The Crafting of Networked Politics From Howard Dean to Barack Obama (Oxford, 2012).

UNC faculty and graduate students are invited. Registration is required.

The questions we will consider include: How can the study of social media use help us better understand human behavior and institutions? What are the most pressing normative, legal, analytical, and descriptive research questions around the adoption of social media? What methodological tools are available to answer these research questions and what are their limitations? What can we learn from the three decades of scholarly research on networked communication? What are the privacy and other ethical concerns we face in researching social media? The conference will be held from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Freedom Forum Conference Center on the third floor of Carroll Hall. The conference is free, and box lunches will be served.

Attendance will be limited to 50 people, so please register by emailing with your name and affiliation before 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14. You will receive a return email confirming your registration.

The UNC Center for Media Law and Policy is a collaborative initiative of the UNC schools of journalism and law. The center is a forum for interdisciplinary study and debate about the important media law and policy issues facing North Carolina and the nation. For more information, visit

For more information on the North Carolina Law Review’s symposium, visit

If you have questions, please contact Dr. Cathy Packer, co-director of the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy, at

UPDATE:  Notes from the day’s conversation were created on a shared Google Doc and can be found here (be forewarned that these notes were created in real-time and have not been edited).

Tagged: Interdisciplinary Lunch Series, Social Media, Workshops
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