A new laboratory at TSU will study how social media influence society

Tomsk State University has opened the Laboratory for Big Data Science and Social Studies. Its scientists will examine how the data of social media can be used to improve the quality of life and development of society.

- Сurrently we are thinking a lot about how the University should develop in a new time - said Eduard Galazhinsky, Rector of TSU. - Our strategic academic unit, the Institute of the Human of the Digital Era (IHDE), is intended to answer the question of how the society and the human are changing in this society. Data about these processes can be obtained from social networks, the new reality in which we live. The possibilities here are inspiring and impressive.

The Laboratory for Big Data Science and Social Studies will conduct interdisciplinary research based on the knowledge and techniques of computer science, mathematics, psychology, sociology, pedagogy, linguistics, neuroscience, philosophy, cognitive science, and ethics. The Laboratory brings together experts in computer technology, who understand how to collect, organize, and store data, with social scientists: sociologists, political scientists, linguists, and psychologists.

- The main purpose of the Laboratory is the growth of competencies within TSU (in sociology, political science, and other fields) in the analysis of big data from social networks, - says Professor Mikhail Myagkov, the scientific director of the Laboratory. - Students, graduate students, and faculty must learn not only to analyze what people are writing and expressing in social networks, but also to understand how the data analysis helps assess what is happening in society, how the mood of the people is changing, and how this affects the behavior of society as a whole.

The Laboratory will do practical interdisciplinary research on analyzing data from social networks to analyze the behavior of society. Mikhail Myagkov emphasizes that the main research task of the Laboratory is solving specific social problems. Among the ongoing projects are identifying and studying the behavior of right-wing extremist organizations and constructing a university image in social networks.

TSU and the Laboratory plan to open a Master's programme for training specialists in data analysis next year.