By Jen Schradie
I know, I know, it’s digital blasphemy to say that using Internet data is a terrible way to study social movements. What about all of those Twitter and Facebook revolutions of the Arab Spring? And Occupy Wall Street? #Ferguson and #BlackLivesMatter spread like wildfire, for God’s sake.
You may think that I’m a luddite who doesn’t see the sheer statistical splendor and speed of social network diagrams or automated text analyses made from Tweets. Or, perhaps you’re thinking that old-school scholars just don’t get it: digital activism is the future, so we need to disrupt, innovate and flatten those hierarchical Marxist social movement sociologists.
But before you reach through your screen and strangle me with your iPhone charger cord, consider these ways in which online data, whether social media or otherwise, might not be as representative or generalizable as they are fast and efficient. Continue reading