Andreas Weigend | Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University
Social Data Revolution | MS&E 237 (Spring 2011)

This page give the most recent email sent to the students, and some of the earlier announcements, updates, etc.

Email sent Mon 30 May 2011

Hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend! Here are a few items for the end of the quarter:

1) HW4B DUE THIS FRIDAY (June 3rd at noon)
A few of you have requested an extension on the last homework. Since Jason Wei only told me last Tuesday that he was out of town for the week, the fairest decision is to extend the deadline for everybody to Friday at noon.

  • Goal of the final class is to bring everything together. If there is anything you want me to include, just send me a quick email today.
  • Wanted to remind you that we’ll have a reception after class to celebrate the end of the class. Please invite students who might consider taking the class next year to the reception so they can meet some of this year’s students. Since we have a couple of extra seats in class, you can also invite them to class beforehand.
  • Also, Becky, Emma and Fontaine ask you to please wear your SDR class QR code t-shirt tomorrow since they want to take some pictures for their blog post.

Before class, Shaun Tai will interview a few of you. More information including sign-up is at . I am excited about this and will be there!

  • There are still slots open for tomorrow’s office hour. Please sign up at .
  • I could also meet over lunch, say noon at Bytes? If you are interested, please email me today and I will let you know by 10am tomorrow.

Please email me or text or call me (650 906-5906) to set up times if you want to meet during finals week. Also, I am happy to do it over facetime or skype (aweigend).

As explained at the beginning of the quarter, grades are based on homeworks, dogfoods, wiki, and class participation. There is no final given in this class. FYI, as I’ve gotten a few requests for clarification, this class will not be graded on a curve. If you have any question, please talk to me directly.

Thanks again for an amazing quarter together! And don’t forget to fill out – please be aware that this feedback is important and will be used by the department to decide on whether to offer this course again.


Email sent Mon 25 Apr 2011

Thank you for your thoughts on the 4-minute survey at the end of the last class. I really appreciate your feedback and truly want you to learn as much relevant stuff about social data as possible in a quarter, and make the class time as valuable for you, given the constraints we have.

Online to offline or O2O…, the offline t-shirt glitch of course nicely following the Thursday online glitch when Quora was down while you tried to finish DF3. Both were out of your control. We’ll give you a bit more breathing room and effectively drop one DF (moving those 2.5 points to the class participation category, increasing it from 10 to 12.5). In terms of deadlines:
  • HW2b: We give you two more days, i.e., it is now due Thursday this week (4/28). If you have not yet received feedback to your HW2a, or if you have any other questions about his grading of any homework assignments, please contact Jason and/or see him in his office hour today.
  • DF4: We’ll give you an additional week, i.e., it is now due Thursday next week (5/5).
All changes are reflected on the course wiki and the embedded Let Jason know if there is something unclear, and if you see things on the wiki that are typos or can be updated that I did not see, then please, just do it!

The initial wiki contributions are good (definitely better than last year’s, yay!). But still, just for those of you who haven’t done the initial one: the wiki is not a transcript but a concise summary of your key learnings in bullet point form. (I give you the audio of each class right at the end of class, but please resist the temptation of just jotting down what was said -- but rather boil it down to the essence. It is in this synthesis, best done in a half-hour group discussion with the other two initial contributors, where your learning occurs). You can view it as a scaffolding for the other students to add their related thoughts and links. And there is room for creativity. E.g., for the most recent one, David Kim, Eva Petrova-Ibarria and Ruchi Varshney came up with the idea to run a little survey and asked me to include in this mail:

Email sent Mon 18 Apr 2011

Your submissions for HW2a are coming in -- some very thoughtful responses. Thanks! Deadline is noon tomorrow. This is also when we assign HW2b.

CLASS TUESDAY (tomorrow) focuses on modeling influencers. We are super fortunate that Matthew Russell, the author of our textbook, will join us. Here is the plan
He is also available AFTER CLASS to talk to students informally, happy to answer anything you want to know about the stuff in the textbook (but were afraid to ask) and also to share his thoughts about his career as a data scientist. I am not setting up anything formally, it is your chance to self-organize after class with him. I am attaching his Twitter cookbook with 21 recipes, if you want to cook up more. He asked me to ask you to not distribute it further.

Tomorrow evening is the first meeting with the course reps. Whatever feedback and suggestions you have: Please do let your reps know, so they can bring it up at the meeting. Their names and emails are the home page of the wiki. (Reps: Meeting is at 8pm at Pasta?, as per email sent earlier).

CLASS THURSDAY focuses on collective intelligence. We use Quora as example. Your preparation is DF3, which is due Thursday at noon. Quora’s Tracy Chung will bring to class her insights from working at Qura – your chance to your questions answered!

I am including this into this email since several students asked for it.
The kick-off meeting of the Social Data Lab last week was a success. If you are interested in joining and participating, please come this Thursday at 6, and add your name and short info to

Here is Alex Cheng’s summary of the first meeting:
Our participants come from a variety of backgrounds and bring a wide range of experiences to the table. Some of the topics we talked about in this session included happiness on the internet, metrics of influence, the gamification of life, changes in human behavior with the increase in social data, and why people share things.
Lab meetings are Thursdays from 6 to 8. Alan Guo is finding a room that is more quiet than the area we initially got. Ask him or me in class. Topics for the next weeks are:
• 21 Apr: The Social Data Audit, Part 1: What it is, why companies need it, and what they do with it. [Plus a bit about logistics.]
• 28 Apr: The Social Data Audit, Part 2: The nuts and bolts
• 05 May: Social Data and the Future of Insurance
• 11 May (full day, Wednesday): Social Data Spring Summit
• 12 May no meeting

Talk 4-6pm Wed 20 Apr 2011 to Knight Fellows (Knight Lounge, Building 120 / McClatchy Hall, 4th floor)

The Art of Social Data

Billions of people are now producing and sharing massive amounts of data with one another, with businesses, and even with the world. The result: the social data revolution—changing the way we view ourselves, interact with each other, and make decisions. Everything from our location and shopping habits, to our thoughts and emotions, is now digitized and broadcast to the world in real-time, with only a few clicks.
While the attention capacity of a person remains the same as in the past, the amount of data a person creates doubles every 1.5 years. Companies and individuals thus compete more than ever for the ultimate scarce resource: the attention of their audience.
Companies – including newspapers – have already made strides in shifting from a company-centric to a customer-centric perspective. Now, they are moving toward a relationship-centric approach, focusing on the community and the network, not only on the company or the individual.
What is the impact of the social data revolution on journalism? How does it affect your own identity as a journalist and the identity of your publication or product? How do you move from a traditional concept of one-way communication with your sources and readers to a multi-directional form of communication that may include curating a relationship among the parties involved.
4:15 - 6 pm in the Knight Lounge, on the 4th floor of McClatchy Hall (aka Bldg. 120)
Please come a few minutes early and help yourself to refreshments!
Andreas will talk for 20-30 minutes, then open up for Q&A and discussion

Before Class 5, Thu 14 Apr 2011

Hi there!
Hope you are enjoying the class so far! Couple of quick updates so we are all on the same page:
  • Up to this point, in DF1 you thought about instrumenting the world, and what could become part of an app for Rick Smolan’s Digital Mirror project. DF2 (due today) gave some background read on social data (as presented by the Economist) in DF2, and we've learned a little Python and looked at ways of uncovering social trends through both Twitter and web scraping in HW1. On Tuesday, Jason will give a small presentation with an overview of some of YOUR findings from this first assignment.
  • I’ve put up the first part HW2 last night and will walk you through it in class today. Your deliverable for HW2 Part A is to think about this notion of social influence, and to succinctly answer three questions. This is due next Tuesday (4/19) before noon. In HW2 Part B you will actually get your hands dirty with some more code and implement some of your ideas of social influence. We will have the author of the textbook come to class and give us some interesting ideas
  • Today we will also post DF3 - Quora. For those of you who have never used Quora, it is definitely an up and coming Q&A social service and is definitely worth trying out. Read through the details of DF3 and submit as usual on a form.
  • Finally, those of you interested in the participating in the Social Data Lab, we will have our first ever meeting TODAY 6pm, right after class, in the Grove of the, Building 550. Once inside, walk to the central atrium on the first floor of 550, then make a right turn and walk all the way down towards the end of the building. The Grove area is at the end of the hall.
Thanks! Again, hope you are enjoying the class.

Before Class 1, Tue 29 Mar 2011

Hi there!

Thanks for your interest in taking MS&E 237! It turns out that there are more than 100 students registered, but unfortunately our classroom can only fit half. I personally am super interested in the topic of social data, and how it has forever changed the way we interact with other and with the world. I want to make sure that those of you who will thrive and be able to contribute the most to class will actually be in the class.

As first step in figuring out whether this class is a good fit for you, please check out last year’s course wiki ( and see whether the topics, guest speakers, and assignments are for you or not. Next, take 20 minutes to listen to the mp3 of a recent talk (Predictive Analytics World, This will give you a sense of what I talk about, and how I talk about it.

If you are still in the game, I’ve put together a Google form ( with some questions about your background, interests, and views about the social data revolution. You need to complete it before noon on Monday March 28 (the day before the first class) so that we have time to read all of your answers and can let you know late Monday night whether you made it into the class.

It will probably take you an hour to complete the google form. Note that there is lots of space at its end for you to share anything with the CA (Jason Wei,, and me. For example, if you are in GSB, please let us know what you did as undergrad: it makes a difference for this class whether your majored in engineering or calligraphy! Also, please make sure that relevant parts of your Facebook profile are visible for Jason and me (i.e., set permissions to be visible to Stanford community, at least for this Monday when we’ll look at it).

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and putting your creativity into your answers!

Andreas Weigend