[Air-L] "Definitive" citation for the concept of digital trace data?

Robert Ackland robert.ackland at anu.edu.au
Mon Oct 5 11:27:33 PDT 2015

Kevin - I like the term "digital trace data" and used extensively in my textbook Web Social Science (SAGE Publications, 2013).  I consciously did not use the term "big data" in that book, because I thought digital trace data was a better description of the data I was focusing on.  I'm sure SAGE wish I *had* used the term "big data", as it would have been good for sales....  I've recently bowed to the inevitable and now use "big data" in proposals for short courses/session etc.

To get back to your question, I am of course not proposing the following as definitive but I do refer to tools for "collecting and analysing digital traces of human activity":

Ackland, R. (2005), "Virtual Observatory for the Study of Online Networks (VOSON) - Progress and Plans," refereed paper presented at the First International Conference on e-Social Science, 22-24 June 2005, University of Manchester. http://voson.anu.edu.au/papers/NCeSS_Ackland.pdf



Dr Robert Ackland
Associate Professor, School of Sociology and ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods
Leader, Virtual Observatory for the Study of Online Networks (VOSON) Lab
Australian National University

My book:
Web Social Science: Concepts, Data and Tools for Social Scientists in the Digital Age (SAGE Publications)

e-mail: robert.ackland at anu.edu.au
homepage: https://researchers.anu.edu.au/researchers/ackland-rj

From: Air-L <air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org> on behalf of Kevin G Crowston <crowston at syr.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, 6 October 2015 2:17 AM
To: air-l at listserv.aoir.org
Subject: [Air-L] "Definitive" citation for the concept of digital trace data?

An argument for studies of online behaviour is that the systems collect records of what people do and that such digital trace data provide a rich source of evidence for all kinds of studies. I’m trying to trace back that idea but it seems so taken for granted that there’s often not a citation. So I wondered what people consider the definitive citation for that idea, and for the term "trace data” in this context more specifically.

For example, there’s a 2008 handbook article:

Welser, H. T., Smith, M., Fisher, D., and Gleave, E. 2008. "Distilling Digital Traces: Computational Social Science Approaches to Studying the Internet," in The Sage Handbook of Online Research Methods, N. Fielding, R.M. Lee and G. Blank (eds.). London, England: SAGE Publications, Ltd, pp. 116–141.

But I suspect there are even earlier sources.

Kevin Crowston | Distinguished Professor of Information Science | School of Information Studies

Syracuse University
348 Hinds Hall
Syracuse, New York 13244
t (315) 443.1676 f 315.443.5806 e crowston at syr.edu


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