Social Media & Society conference promotes interdisciplinary exchange of ideas about our networked world


Nearly 200 researchers and professionals attended Canada’s second major interdisciplinary symposium looking at the effects of social media on society.

Sponsored by GRAND and Dalhousie University, and organized by Dalhousie’s Social Media Lab, the 2013 International Conference on Social Media and Society (Sept 14-15, 2013) was a successful follow-up to the lab’s 2012 conference Measuring Influence on Social Media.

The 2013 symposium offered an impressive two-day program comprised of over 60 presentations and panel discussions covering wide-ranging social media topics. The speaker line-up included over 90 researchers and practitioners across several fields and disciplines from over 60 institutions in 15 different countries.

Among the highlights included a talk by keynote speaker Dr. Sharad Goel, Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research and expert in the emerging field of computational social science who spoke about his leading-edge research on virality.

The international symposia are the first in Canada to focus on the best practices for studying the impact and implications of social media on society. Both conferences have helped form a new interdisciplinary network of experts and professionals interested in the area.

“As an organizer, it is great to see that there is a community forming around this conference,” said Dr. Anatoliy Gruzd, Director of the Social Media Lab. “People are already talking about attending next year’s conference.”

“With themes including identity, online communities, academia, marketing, and politics, this conference had something for everyone,” wrote Ottawa presenter Stefanie Duguay about the 2013 symposium on her blog. “This was a good reflection of the diversity of areas in society affected by new information and communications technologies (ICTs). It also captured the interdisciplinary work of the academics studying this field.”

Networking opportunities were also a big draw for attendees. Academic and business professionals exchanged on some of the latest research in the area of social media. Participants further connected through the conference Twitter hashtag #SMSociety13 – networking activity which itself was a natural topic of discussion during the conference. A tour of the Social Media Lab, a newly opened state-of-the-art research lab dedicated to social media, was also a highpoint for many participants.

GRAND researchers and graduate students (HQP) from Dalhousie University, University of Ottawa, University of British Columbia, Concordia University, McGill University, University of Western Ontario and York University presented at the conference. Paper topics included social media and ethics, micro-blogging, user interaction, government use of social media, and the legal implications of social media.

“It is excellent that GRAND is able to support students’ participation at this conference,” said Gruzd. “I think this type of events is a great opportunity for GRAND HQP to present their research and network with others in this rapidly emerging field.”


*Written by Spencer Rose for GRAND NCE, re-posted with permission.