What is a “digital sociology firm”?

This news story reports the sale of a “digital sociology firm” named mPathDiscovery:

Richard Neal, CIO of mPathDiscovery, described TBX as a group of investors from different industries that came together in April. The transaction will provide mPathDiscovery with access to TBX’s capital, experience and business connections.

Neal said mPathDiscovery has two employees — himself and President David Goode — and uses an array of contract employees. The company will remain in Kansas City and soon will begin looking for its first office space.

One result of the transaction has been the purchase of the “digitalsociology.com” web domain. Neal said the name had been owned by a cybersquatter who offered to sell it for a profit.

Neal said digital sociology helps companies see who is saying what, when and where about them online. The process can help companies see how marketing messages are being received by the public and analyze attitudes about competitors.

Two things strike me:

  1. So this is beyond web analytics where companies try to figure out who is visiting their site. (That industry is crowded and there are a number of ways to measure engagement with websites.) This goes to the next level and examines how companies/pages are perceived. I imagine there are plenty of people already doing this – I’ve heard plenty of commercials for site that want to protect the reputation of individuals – so what sets this company apart? This leads to the second point…
  2. What exactly makes this “digital sociology”? As a sociologist, I’m not sure what exactly this is getting at. Online society? Studying online interactions with companies? The use of the term sociology is meant to imply a more rigorous kind of analysis? In the end, is the term sociology attractive to companies that want these services?

One thought on “What is a “digital sociology firm”?

  1. As a academic you should acknowledge and study the fact your peers acknowledge and appreciate the study of Digital Sociology.

    Here are some links for you:

    http://www.goabroad.com/providers/goldsmiths-university-of-london/programs/ma-msc-in-digital-sociology-106154

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_sociology

    Web Analytics (using its most popular connotative meaning) is to the Social-age of Global Digital Communication as a bow and arrows are to a modern-day Army. Yes, Web Analytics is a crowded space (however much less crowded than just five years ago). And, yes, there are a number of ways to measure engagement with websites. However, this has little to do with Digital Sociology, overly-summarized as understanding the mindshare of the masses. Through your two-part inquiry comprised of a singular focus upon site engagement via a paleolithic-era toolset (ref. Web Analytics that were mostly derived in the early-to-mid 1990s as defined in “Internet years”), you’ve missed the critical component needed for comprehending the multiple dimensions of the who, why, when and why of those engaged in a topic of conversation that are not on a particular site or category channel or using English or calling into a Call Center.

    With respect to your questioning this discipline’s analysis rigor per an Academic context, a quick search illuminated multiple answers corresponding to this inquiry by way of Birmingham City University, PhD programs at the London School of Economics, Oxford’s Internet Institute as well as related research via a multi-disciplinary approach via MIT, Georgia Tech and Wisconsin-Madison. Speaking of Wisconsin, UWisconsin is home to the Game + Learning + Society conference that offers a diverse sampling of research in this field.

    Richard Neal is one of the original innovators and is on record of authoring the first publication(in 2010).

    Digital Sociology is about what people are talking about and how they view different items/things. Companies, organizations, agencies, politicians, governments, etc., use digital sociology to discover how they themselves and their products are really viewed.

    This goes far beyond Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and social media. Just like this comment I am writing, it will be held in a substrate of internet and not readily accessible, and the process that was created by Richard Neal can find and expose the hidden information within the substrate for a further understanding of what individuals are thinking, talking about, and doing.

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