June 16-29 2021

The CDH Social Data School, led by Cambridge Digital Humanities in association with the Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy, is an online intensive teaching programme structured around the life-cycle of a digital research project, covering principles of research design, data collection, cleaning and preparation, methods of analysis and visualisation, and data management and preservation practices.

This year’s Data School includes modules exploring the challenges to data protection principles in a world where networked surveillance is fast becoming the norm.

We will also analyse the social and cultural impact of recent advances in machine learning driven systems for classifying and generating images and texts, and discuss and deploy data-intensive methods for the analysis of disinformation on social media platforms.

Key topics covered include:

Ethical digital research design and the digital project lifecycle
Data protection and surveillance in a networked world
How Machine Learning shapes the media
Data exploration, structuration and preparation
Social Network visualisation and analysis
Machine Learning and computer vision: a critical and experimental introduction
The Social Data School takes place entirely online this year.
Delivery methods will include seminar presentations, small group discussions, demonstrations and experimental lab sessions. Participants will be expected to spend time between sessions working on practical exercises in their own time and are encouraged to interact with each other via the course virtual learning environment and social space to support learning.

Software tools and methods covered:

Openrefine + extensions (such as Named Entity Recognition): data cleaning, filtering and aggregation
Regex: more efficient filtering
Voyant tools : text visualisation without programming
Gephi: social network visualisation and analysis
Jupyter notebooks: webscraping, adding text as a column
Google Colab notebooks for automated text generation and image processing
No prior knowledge of programming languages is required.


The objectives of the CDH Data Schools are:

To democratise access to tools and methods for digital data collection, analysis and reporting;
To foster the development of ethical practices in digital research; and
To encourage dialogue between academia, news media, civil society, the public sector and industry about the social, legal, ethical and policy implications of digital research methods
The Data Schools leverage expertise in digital research, providing practical training and knowledge exchange across sectors, professions and disciplines. In past editions, most participants were affiliated with civil society groups, news media organisations and academia.
Preference will be given to individuals from organisations whose access to digital data-driven training is limited due to lack of human or financial resources. In order to stimulate peer learning, the desired composition of the class is diverse, with participants from different fields, and thus selection will be guided by this objective.


About the organisers

The CDH Social Data School 2021 is organised by Cambridge Digital Humanities in association with the Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy.