SODAS Data Discussion 7 October 2022


Copenhagen Center for Social Data Science (SODAS) aspirers to be a resource for all students and researchers at the Faculty of Social Sciences. We therefore invite researchers across the faculty to present ongoing research projects, project applications or just a loose idea that relates to the subject of social data science.

The rules are simple: short research presentations of ten minutes are followed by twenty minutes of debate. No papers will be circulated beforehand, and the presentations cannot be longer than five slides.

Presenter: Kristian Bernt Karlson, Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen

Title: Establishment of database of parents' occupations for twins born 1870-1930

Abstract: In this infrastructure project, I will establish a database containing information on the occupations of parents of around 10,000 twins born 1870 through 1930. The project involves digitizing and coding typed index cards collected in the 1950s and stored in the archives at the Danish Twin Registry. Once established, the database will provide a truly unique opportunity to examine how intergenerational social mobility changed during the first industrialization of Denmark. The database will feed directly into my ongoing ERC-funded project on the social mobility of siblings in historical and comparative perspective, and it will serve as a critical extension of the existing database that covers twins born 1931 through 2000.

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Presenter: Anders Grundtvig, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen 

Title: YouTube as personal “helper” on user’s health journeys

Abstract: The rapid development and pervasive character of the internet are changing the ways people are gaining information. With a few clicks we can search any information on our computers, smartphones, and now even on smart watches. These developments have transformed how and where people most frequently are obtaining health information, now mostly online. (Lee et al., 2015). Digitized health information can simply exists as a digital translation of existing information. But much of the health information generated and existing on the Social Web are not “just” digital translations of information. Health Information are digitalized into the infrastructures of the Social Web, where it transforms and becomes an integrated part of the performativity and activity of the Social Web, which Anders Grundtvig frames as being mediated by the Social Web.

Anders Grundtvig is interested in how the Social Web as mediator of Online Health Information (OHI) is influencing patients' health journeys. How are digital infrastructure, online culture, algorithms and so forth, influencing the communication, visibility, content, and (re)configuration of the health information? And how are these influencing patients’ health journeys? 

YouTube is as one of the main actors of the Social Web, both in regard of the astonishing user traffic and its influence to society as a whole. YouTube is accommodating the role as an influential and far-reaching public health information provider by establishing the YouTube Health branch, where they explicitly and actively is stating their attention on helping their users on the users health journeys. On a blog they write: In our increasingly digital world, online sources have become an important resource for questions about our health. Whether you want to learn about the warning signs of stroke, understand the symptoms and treatment for breast cancer, or take charge of your heart health, YouTube is here to help you make informed decisions about your health journey. (Google, 2022). YouTube Health is in this way simply stating their considerate program of helping their users on their health journeys. But what does it mean to be helped by YouTube on a personal health journey? And how are they using that knowledge to help the user? What does YouTube know about each of our health and the health journeys we are on? What does informed decisions mean for YouTube? As a video sharing platform, YouTube is known for its extraordinary large quantities of content and for accommodating an exceptionally diverse variety of content. So what does “informed” mean for YouTube in this regard? Is “more”, and “diverse” information e.g. perceived by YouTube to facilitate better informed decisions? 

So, what happens when YouTube, as one of the largest tech companies in the world, with one of the most influential algorithms, and as one of the largest social media platform, actively and explicitly enact the role as the mediator of public health information to help users make informed decisions about their health journeys? How are the infrastructure and inherent logics of the platform influencing and shaping the users health journeys?