Sic transit gloria mundi virtuali? Promise and peril in the computational social science of clandestine organizing

Brian Keegan, Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmed, Dmitri Williams, Jaideep Srivastava, Noshir Contractor

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) maintain archival databases of all player actions and attributes including activity by accounts engaged in illicit behavior. If individuals in online worlds operate under similar social and psychological motivations and constraints as the offline world, online behavioral data could inform theories about offline behavior. We examine high risk trading relationships in a MMOG to illuminate the structures online clandestine organizations employ to balance security with efficiency and compare this to an offline drug trafficking network. This data offers the possibility of performing social research on a scale that would be unethical or impracticable to do in the offline world. However, analyzing and generalizing from clandestine behavior in online settings raises complex epistemological and methodological questions about the validity of such mappings and what methods and metrics are appropriate in these contexts. We conclude by discussing how computational social science can be applied to online and offline criminological concerns and highlight the "dual use" implications of these technologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 3rd International Web Science Conference, WebSci 2011
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
ISBN (Print)9781450308557
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011
Event3rd International Web Science Conference, WebSci 2011 - Koblenz, Germany
Duration: Jun 15 2011Jun 17 2011

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 3rd International Web Science Conference, WebSci 2011

Other

Other3rd International Web Science Conference, WebSci 2011
CountryGermany
CityKoblenz
Period6/15/116/17/11

Keywords

  • Clandestine organization
  • Drug trafficking
  • Gold farming
  • Massively multiplayer online game
  • Risk
  • Social network analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications

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    Keegan, B., Ahmed, M. A., Williams, D., Srivastava, J., & Contractor, N. (2011). Sic transit gloria mundi virtuali? Promise and peril in the computational social science of clandestine organizing. In Proceedings of the 3rd International Web Science Conference, WebSci 2011 [24] (Proceedings of the 3rd International Web Science Conference, WebSci 2011). Association for Computing Machinery. https://doi.org/10.1145/2527031.2527057