Sorin Adam Matei

  • Professor
  • Ph.D., University of Southern California
    M.A., Tufts University
    B.A., Bucharest University

Department Information

Communication // Faculty

Office Information

  • Research

    Sorin Adam Matei - Professor and Director of Purdue Data Storytelling Network - studies the relationship between information technology, group behavior, and social structures in a variety of contexts. His most recent book, Structural Differentiation in Social Media studied 10 years-worth of Wikipedia editing or 250 million individual contributions to the site. The volume offers a new view on how online groups emerge. It identifies specific evolutionary phases, including a bureaucratic one. The book emphasizes the role of strong although temporary leaders for the success of any online project. His latest research program investigates the role played by social media cognition and emotional responses on risk-prone or risk-averse behavior in natural emergencies. His most current work continues his interest in online social behavior explored in his past projects. He is also known for his work on ethics in big data and for his multidisciplinary, international projects, such as Kredible.Net ([] Dr. Matei leads the Global Communication Study Abroad program organized with support experts from the French National Assembly and from the French Superior Council for Audio-Visual Media (FCC equivalent).


    He has published 9 book and tens or articles in the Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Information Society, and Foreign Policy.  His work was funded by the National Science Foundation and is conducted in collaboration with colleagues from a variety of campus units, such as Computer Science and Engineering.  Dr. Matei's teaching portfolio includes social media analytics, online interaction and facilitation, and global social media research.  His teaching makes use of a number of software platforms he has codeveloped, such as Visible Effort or Visible Past.  Dr. Matei is also known for his media work.  He is a former BBC World Service journalist whose contributions have been published in Esquire and leading Romanian newspapers.  In Romania, he is known for his books Boierii Mintii (The Mind Boyars)Idolii forului (Idols of the forum), and Idei de schimb (Spare ideas).


    Representative Publications   (Dr. Matei's most recent publications)

    • Collmann, J. & Matei, S. A. (2016). Ethical Reasoning in Big Data. Springer: New York.
    • Matei, S.A., Russell, M. & Bertino, E. (2015). Transparency in social media. Springer: New York.
    • Matei, S. A., & Bertino, E. (2014). Roles, Trust, and Reputation in Social Media Knowledge Markets: Theory and Methods. New York: Springer New York.
    • Matei, S. A., & Bruno, R. J. (2015). Pareto’s 80/20 law and social differentiation: A social entropy perspective. Public Relations Review, 41(2), 178–186.
    • Brunswicker, S., Matei, S. A., Zentner, M., Zentner, L., & Klimeck, G. (2016). Creating impact in the digital space: digital practice dependency in communities of digital scientific innovations. Scientometrics, 1–26.
    • Lee, S., Monge, P., Bar, F., & Matei, S. A. (2007). The emergence of clusters in global telecommunications network. Journal of Communication, 57, 415-434.
    • Matei, S. A. (2006). Globalization and heterogenization: Cultural and civilizational clustering in telecommunicative space (1989-1999). Informatics and Telematics, 23 , 316-331.
    • Matei, S. A. and Ball-Rokeach, S. (2005). Watts, the 1965 Los Angeles riots and the communicative construction of the “fear epicenter” of Los Angeles. Communication Monographs, 72, 301-323.
    • Matei, S. A. (2005). From counterculture to cyberculture: Virtual community discourse and the dilemma of modernity. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication. Vol. 10(3). Retrieved July 1, 2006, from
    • Matei, S.A., (2004). The Mind Boyars. Compania: Bucharest.

    Interests, Achivements, and Qualifications

    • Founding member of Google News Lab University Network, a data journalism innovation community of practice and think tank sponsored by Google.
      • Invited member of the Curriculum Development Advisory Committee.
      • Leader of international faculty research team working on data-driven journalism courses and international assessment of data journalistic practices.


    • Author or editor of 5 books and over 100 papers and book chapters, several award-winning. Topics:
      • Big data and data science applied to communication and social media
      • Human computer interaction and design practices.
      • Practical methods and principles for developing transparent and accountable social media.
      • Evolutionary models that explain how social media knowledge groups grow and sustain themselves. (Wikipedia, Stack Overflow, etc.)


    • Innovator in STEM education. Strategic planning and development of transdisciplinary program that lead to the transformation of the Purdue School of Technology into the Purdue Polytechnic
      • Defined core competencies and evaluation methods using badges
      • Designed experiential education methods including use of VR models
      • Developed Purdue University core requirement course, COM 251 Information, Technology and Society. This STEAM course (Science, Technology, Engineering, Liberal Arts, and Math) is co-taught with the Polytechnic Computer Graphics Department.


    • Developer of publishing, collaborative, and knowledge management tools inspired by theoretical research
      • Visible Effort: A wiki environment for self-moderation using social entropy indicators as collaborative cues
      • Development of ubibooks, which combine paper books with audiobooks
      • Wordpress plugins: mapping, spatial statistics, location-aware connector to Iphone app custom designed by my team (currently on hiatus).
      • USAtalk: Social media analytic engine and moderation tools for reducing partisanship in online conversations (under development, pilot Chicago project to start in 2018)


    • PI and co-PI of multiple NSF and extramural awards (Mellon, Kettering, Kauffman, Motorola, Department of Homeland Security)
      • Created and led multiple cross disciplinary research teams for big data.
      • Topics: social-behavioral uses of communication technologies; trust and authority; social structures the produce quality content; social media induced risk averse and risk prone behavior.


    • Founder, leader and educational director of yearly Global Communication Study Abroad Program in Paris, France
      • The program was created with assistance from the Superior Council for Audiovisual Media (FCC equivalent) and the National Assembly (French Congress).
      • Professionally oriented instructional program, focuses on learning experientially about the business, political, social and legal environment for social and digital media enterprises from or working in Europe.
      • Core activities: meetings with leading French politicians, regulators, entrepreneurs, and academics.

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