What is the role big data plays in social sciences such as economics and political science? Do we still need theoretical models to understand social phenomena? On December 11th Riccardo Puglisi, assistant professor in economics at the University of Pavia and Co-Founder of R2M Solution responsible for Business Model Generation and Industrial Strategy, had the honor of giving the commencement speech (prolusione) at his University, during the inauguration of the 653rd Academic Year. Founded in 1361, the University of Pavia has a rich and celebrated history at the national and international level. This is the first academic year of professor Fabio Rugge as Rector and Elena Cattaneo, professor of pharmacology at the University of Milan and newly appointed lifetime senator, was the honorary guest at the ceremony.During his speech, Riccardo underlined how the exponentially growing abundance of data, because of our intensive use of the internet and social networks, does not diminish the role that theory must play, if our aim is to identify the structure of social phenomena, i.e. the presence, direction and strength of causal links.
Together with R2M Solution’s computer scientist Diego Reforgiato, Riccardo is currently working on the development of AudiTweet, a statistical platform that makes use of Twitter data (1) to identify the ideological position of politicians, interest groups, journalists, opinion leaders and users, and (2) to pin down the underlying patterns of influence among those players. The intent is to continue development within collaborative research projects at the national or European level and to create a new startup dedicated to big data analysis within the next 3-5 years.
At the following links and below you can find a video of the event (Riccardo starts to talk at approximately 01h:25m
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCSxirzFMAA) and a pdf file of the speech
https://www.dropbox.com/s/8b29e1ilym3l5ur/prolusione%20puglisi%20detta.pdf (in Italian!)