COMM 106D: Data and Culture (Winter 2023, UCSD)


COMM 106D: Data and Culture – Winter 2022 (UCSD Communication)

Instructor: Prof. Stuart Geiger ([email protected])

Time: MWF 10-10:50am

Course summary: Today’s culture industries are some of the biggest producers and consumers of data. This course takes a cultural lens to issues around data science, both as it is applied to the culture industries, and as a culture in and of itself. What are the implications of ordering our social media feeds by what will keep us clicking and swiping the most? How do technologies like personalized microtargeting and machine learning recommendations actually work? How do data scientists working at streaming video or social media platforms think about their roles and responsibilities?

This is a non-traditional course in which students will learn both cultural and technical aspects of these issues. On Mondays we will discuss more Communication-style topics, on Wednesdays we will learn how these systems work, and Fridays are a ‘lab’ working hands-on with data science tools related to that week’s topic. This course is designed for Communication and related majors who have no experience with programming, statistics, or data science, but who want to gain some familiarity with these ways of knowing in a safe and welcoming space.

Relationship to other COMM courses: This course may have a some amount of overlap with related courses in the department. COMM 106E (Data, Science, and Society) takes a similar half communication + half data science approach, but 106E covers more applications of data science in social institutions like policing and criminal justice, hiring and admissions, finance and credit, while 106D focuses more specifically on culture industries. COMM 106I (Internet Industries), and COMM 162 (Culture Industries). However, it is designed to take a different perspective and cover a different set of topics.