Computational Liberal Arts (CLA) Workshop on IronHacks in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Computational Liberal Arts (CLA) Workshop on IronHacks in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Studying humans in the age of code, data, and AI using computational methods and online experiments

We are excited to invite faculty and graduate students in liberal arts and social sciences to a half-day workshop to learn about and discuss how to leverage IronHacks, a platform developed at Purdue by the Research Center for Open Digital Innovation (RCODI), for studing humans and their actions in today’s world digital society shaped by data, code, and artificial intelligence (AI).

Event Details

What is the workshop about?

During the workshop, participants will learn how they can use IronHacks to perform computational research in the liberal arts (CLA) and social sciences (CSS) to develop advance and develop new theories using large-scale online experiments and analyzing trace data with computational methods. IronHacks is a platform for researchers in CLA and CSS to study how technically interested and savvy humans (programmers, data scientists, app developers, etc.) engage in data and code-related work and problem-solving to solve data-related challenges (e.g. developing a data science algorithm for forecasting unemployment, developing a data visualization to be shown on a website, designing a web app, etc.).

Further, it allows studying many other code-related human actions. For example, researchers can use IronHacks to study how end-users and humans without technical expertise interact with code, data, and artificial agents (e.g. recommender systems, bots, etc.) more broadly. The platform provides an opportunity for researchers to leverage the granular digital traces of human actions and interactions on and with digital platforms for developing and testing new theories in liberal arts and social sciences at different levels - individuals, groups, crowds, and collectives, as well as artifacts and design (Brunswicker et al., 2018) using computational methods (Gosling and Johnson, 2010). IronHacks also allows researchers to perform randomized controlled experiments which have long been considered the gold standard of scientific research (Recker, 2013). IronHacks allows scholars to move from the lab into the “field” while maintaining control of the experimental set-up. The participants in such research studies either come from the existing IronHacks community of programmers and data scientists, or can be recruited in a purposive way depending on the population of interest.

Why should I participate as CLA researcher?

There are a range of benefits from participating in this workshop:

  1. You have the opportunity to learn about, form and become part of the new field of computational liberal arts (CLA) and the emerging field of computational social sciences (CSS)
  2. You get direct insights how the RCODI team has used IronHacks in their prior research on digital innovation, crowds, and collective intelligence and data science learning/programming
  3. You can discuss how you could use IronHacks to answer a research question of interest to you in your specific field of liberal arts and social science. Specifically, you will:
    1. See a demo of the IronHacks platform and how to use it as a researcher.
    2. Understand what trace data you could collect and what methods could be used to analyze such data.
    3. Listen to the experiences of a recent participant in an IronHacks “challenge” - the so-called hack, and learn about the practical experiences of those engaging in data science work on IronHacks.
  4. Understand why IronHacks offers greater potential for “realistic” research on human behavior in the age of code, data, and AI compared to platforms like Kaggle,Topcoder, Mturk, Volunteer Sciences, O-tree, Apple appstore, Qualtrics, etc.
  5. Understand how you could integrate IronHacks in your own teaching.
  6. Develop ties to other researchers and the RCODI team to form a working group at Purdue, in which you can brainstorm, design, and implement research projects using IronHacks, work with RCODI on grant application, and develop a strategy to advance the platform and its community to serve the needs of computational liberal arts (CLA) and also computational social science more broadly.
  7. Discuss the opportunity to become a RCODI fellow, who has the opportunity to access, work with, and collect data jointly with the IronHacks team, while learning new skills and/or performing research.

What research topics could I potential tackle with IronHacks?

The RCODI team and its collaborators have used and are using IronHacks for research on information disclosure and transparency in digital innovation, human-problem solving, creativity and design (visual as well as engineering design), crowds, social influence and collective intelligence, data science programming and augmented learning.
However, the platform is not restricted to such topics but can also be used to study research questions related to topics of interest to scholars in sociology, economics, management sciences, communication, political sciences, psychology, visual and performing arts, as well as antropology, law and philosophy (e.g. Diver, 2021; Harding et al., 2018; Kuwabara, 2015).

Examples of potential research topics are:

  • Social networks, online communities and AI.
  • Data-driven, code-based and AI-enabled decision-making.
  • Design and creative work in digital environments, gamification.
  • Social and organizational learning in data environments, new forms of code-enabled organizational evolution (co-evolution).
  • Information disclosure, privacy, and security in the age of data, code and AI.
  • Misinformation and deception.
  • New AI-enabled forms of collective action.
  • Code and culture and cultural evolution.
  • Human-AI teaming (human-in-the loop) and human-crowd partnership.
  • Human versus artificial intelligence in settings of prediction markets.
  • Code, AI, and law.

IronHacks offers flexibility in data collection as well as the design of randomized or natural experiments (field studies) enabling researchers to assess various treatment effects and capturing a variety of digital trace data (code-based interactions, natural language conversations, interactions with code, data, artifacts, and AI, attention, etc.) It can also be combined with data collected in lab settings, e.g. those of interest to psychologists (e.g. cognitive modeling using physiological data collected via wearable computing devices like eyetrackers, smart wristbands or even genomics (e.g. to connect to the field of social genonomics)).

Workshop agenda

Time (EST)DescriptionSpeaker/Contributor
11:00 AMOpening RemarksDr. Sorin Matei
11:05 AMIntroduction to IronHacks Platform, and its features for research on computational liberal arts and examples of prior experiments performed with IronHacksDr. Sabine Brunswicker & Jia Lin Cheoh
12:00 PMLive Demo of IronHacks Platform (following along encouraged), during working lunchDr. Sabine Brunswicker
1:00 PMIronHacks Fall 2022 and Insights from Participant (Data Scientist)Dr. Sabine Brunswicker & (Lionel / Mick)
1:20 PMOpen Discussion & QA & Brainstorming on Collaboration OpportunitiesDr. Sabine Brunswicker
2:30 PMInformation Networking over Coffee & SnacksDr. Sabine Brunswicker
4:00 PMEnd of WorkshopDr. Sabine Brunswicker
Dr. Sorin Matei

What do we hope to achieve as an outcome?

  • List of research topics of interest to scholars at Purdue.
  • Identification of interest among workshop participants to become an IronHacks fellow (faculty or graduate student or even undergraduate).
  • Discussions on immediate grant opportunities.
  • Documentation of future teaching and learning opportunities (e.g. an experiential class for data science learning, a method class to be integrated in the method cluster).
  • Formation of a working group that nurtures a new field of computational liberal arts (CLA) at Purdue and beyond with the goal to advance the IronHacks platform and its community in order to perform next-generation research in the liberal arts.

How can I save a spot and participate in the workshop?

Are you excited to join? To take part in the workshop, please do as follows.

  1. Sign-up using the link below by Monday, April 17th, 2023.
  2. Come to BRNG (Beering Hall) B222 on Friday, April 21st at 11 AM and ideally bring your laptop (not required but recommended)
  3. Join our mailing list by signing up to IronHacks
  4. Send an email to the IronHacks team, if you have questions prior to the workshop.

About the Organizer

Dr. Sabine Brunswicker is an internationally recognized innovation scholar and computational social scientist, bridging the fields of social sciences and information science & technlogy. She is a Professor for Digital Innovation, and the Founder and Director of the Research Center for Open Digital Innovation (RCODI).

In her research on digital innovation, she is particularly focused on the role of digital platforms as a means to leverage distributed machine and human intelligence when solving complex problems at scale. Examples of digital innovation she studies are Open source software (OSS) communities, crowdsourcing, citizen science, blockchains, and digital manufacturing. In her work, she designs and examines the social and technical ‘features’ of digital platforms with a focus on economic, social, and ecological outcomes. Further, she uses computational techniques (e.g. agent-based modeling, network analysis) and field experiments to advance theories and models of complex socio-technical interactions. Her work has been funded by NSF, NIH, the European Commission (EC), and industry and philanthropic donors.

Research Center for Open Digital Innovation (RCODI)

The Research Center for Open Digital Innovation (RCODI) strives to engage in a revolution of innovation, researching the best way digital technologies can shape the process of open innovation. Open innovation combines an organization’s own research with additional information from external sources to solve problems and develop new products or services. With leading researchers from around the world participating, the center will become a thought leader in the rapidly evolving field. Leveraging big data, sentiment analysis, crowdsourcing, open data, living laboratories and real-time experimentation, the center will focus on how technologies can change the way innovations are realized.

Where can I learn more before the workshop

Contact Information

Dr. Sabine Brunswicker:Founding Director of RCODI, Professor of Digital Innovation in PPI and Com
Profile | Email: [email protected]

Dr. Howard E Sypher: Professor in COM
Email: [email protected]

Dr. Sorin Matei: CLA Associate Dean of Research
Email: [email protected]

Jia Lin Cheoh: RCODI Fellow, Ph.D Student
Profile | Email: [email protected]

Research Center of Open Digital Innovation
Email: [email protected]


  • Brunswicker, S., Jensen, B., Song, Z., & Majchrzak, A. (2018). Transparency as design choice of open data contests. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 69(10), 1205-1222.
  • Harding, D. J., Morenoff, J. D., Nguyen, A. P., & Bushway, S. D. (2018). Imprisonment and labor market outcomes: Evidence from a natural experiment. American Journal of Sociology, 124(1), 49-110.
  • Johnson, J. A., & Gosling, S. (Eds.). (2011). Advanced methods for conducting online behavioral research. American Psychological Association.
  • Kuwabara, K. (2015). Do reputation systems undermine trust? Divergent effects of enforcement type on generalized trust and trustworthiness. American Journal of Sociology, 120(5), 1390-1428.
  • Recker, J. (2013). Scientific research in information systems: a beginner’s guide (p. 5). Berlin: Springer.

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