Networks and the Unintended Consequences of Communication
Distinguished Speaker Series
Past Talk
Sandra González-Bailón
Assistant Professor, Annenberg School for Communication, UPenn
Mar 29, 2017
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10:00 am
177 Huntington Ave
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11th floor

Why does human action trigger unintended effects? This question has intrigued social scientists for decades – and only now, with the help of network science, have we began to unravel the forces that set those chain reactions in motion. The unintended consequences of human action take many forms and are captured by many metaphors: from self-fulfilling prophecies to cumulative effects; from negative feedback loops to virtuous circles. Communication networks pulsate at the heart of all these processes of change. Digital technologies, with their trove of data and tools, allow us to tap into those networks, and solve the puzzle of why our actions generate outcomes that we did not intend or envision. This talk will offer an account of the progress made in recent decades, and dive into the details of my own research, which aims to illuminate how networks facilitate large-scale coordination -- and dynamics of change that lay beyond the control of any one individual involved.

About the speaker
Sandra González-Bailón is an Assistant Professor at the Annenberg School for Communication, and affiliated faculty at the Warren Center for Network and Data Sciences. Prior to joining Penn, she was a Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute (2008-2013), where she is now a Research Associate. She completed her doctoral degree in Nuffield College (University of Oxford) and her undergraduate studies at the University of Barcelona. Her research lies at the intersection of network science, data mining, computational tools, and political communication. She leads the research group DiMeNet –acronym for Digital Media, Networks, and Political Communication.