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EF11: Digital Experimentation and Peer Effects with Dean Eckles

February 21, 2017

This podcast is all about digital experimentation. We discuss why it’s useful, why it’s harder that it seems, and best practices. Our guest is Dean Eckles, who is an assistant professor at MIT Sloan and previously worked at Facebook as a research scientist. We begin the conversation by describing how the human-computer interaction approach to studying digital systems differs from the marketing approach. We then discuss digital experiments, and how they can be used to both study policy and to learn about behavior. We then discuss when ‘big data’ is necessary for experiments to be informative and the possibility of non-parametric methods for inference. Next, we move on to Dean’s research on peer effects between users on Facebook. We finish with advice for researchers collaborating with the private sector.