Say you want to learn a bit about social media, maybe get some smart perspective from someone who really knows their stuff. (So goes the life of a reporter.)

Start poking around Twitter and blogs and whatnot and you'll quickly find a thriving online world of self-proclaimed social media experts, gurus and ninjas. Hmmm.

I don't mean to dismiss those who've learned through experience. Their opinions are valuable, too. But what about the serious research on how all this social networking and digital connection affects our lives?

Turns out, there's a whole bunch of that going on at the University of Minnesota under the umbrella of the Social Media and Business Analytics Collaborative, aka SOBACO

The two-year-old multi-disciplinary effort includes scholars studying all sorts of things, from big data to crowdfunding and recommendation systems to trust between people online. A bunch of this year’s research will be presented today at the SOBACO Spring Research Symposium.

Some of the sessions will be live-streamed and recorded for broadcast online. The program includes all sorts of topics, from the effects of mobile apps on online dating to deviant behavior in online games. Study up.

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