What is Digital Trace Data?

Chris Bail
Duke University


Time Activity
9:15-9:30AM What is digital trace data?
9:30-9:45AM Strengths and weaknesses of digital trace data
9:45-10:15AM Screen-Scraping/Browser-Automation
10:15-10:30AM Break
10:30-11:00PM Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
11:00-12:30PM Building Apps and Bots for Social Science Research
12:30-1:30PM Lunch
1:30-4:00PM Group Exercise
4:00-5:30PM Guest Lecture by Duncan Watts
6:00PM Dinner



[J]ust as the invention of the telescope revolutionized the study of the heavens, so too by rendering the unmeasurable measurable, the technological revolution in mobile, Web, and Internet communications has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of ourselves and how we interact … . [T]hree hundred years after Alexander Pope argued that the proper study of mankind should lie not in the heavens but in ourselves, we have finally found our telescope. Let the revolution begin.

—Duncan Watts (2011, p. 266)

What is Digital Trace Data?


-Social Media Sites
-Web Search Data
-Blogs/Other Internet Forums
-Adminstrative Data on Websites
-Internet Archive -Digitization of Historical Texts/Archives -Audio-Visual Data

What is Digital Trace Data?