I am a post-doctoral researcher at Chapman University and instructor in Digital Humanities at UCLA. My work focuses on the social and political implications of technological practices and cultures, particularly those that improve organizational capacities, community well-being, and government responsiveness. To research these topics I employ quantitative (surveys, trace data analysis) and qualitative (ethnography, interviews) methodologies, often in combination (“mixed methods”). Theoretically my work is situated in communication, and also draws from sociology, science and technology studies (STS), cultural studies, and political science. My research has been published in journals such as New Media & Society; the International Journal of Communication; Social Media + Society, and Big Data + Society. This work falls in two areas:
My primary research topic is how technological projects (often involving mobile media and data) can help reform democratic institutions of government and community. Specifically, I look at how the “civic tech” movement improves government processes, policies, and communication with residents. Over the last several years I have traced how local governments, organizations and residents design and implement technology for civic purposes. For example, I have looked at “innovation teams” operating inside government, and how outside “data intermediaries” interpret the political utility of open data. This work has culminated in several peer-reviewed articles for leading journals, and a crowdsourced public-facing book that will be completed in spring 2017. I also advocate for a responsive and responsible government through work and volunteering; I am on Long Beach’s Technology and Innovation Commission, and from 2015 to 2016 I was the first Civic Data Fellow for the city of Los Angeles where I worked with the city’s Innovation Delivery Team. This area overlaps a bit with hacking/hacker cultures, particularly involving blended online/offline and co-present collaboration (hackerspaces, hackathons).
I also research how mobile media and social media media alter the form and function of everyday communication. My dissertation used quantitative and qualitative methodologies to explore how mobile practices enabled social cohesion and visual communication in the context of new parents. This theme extended from my MA thesis, which explored young adult dependency with social network sites (SNSs). This body of work draws from literature in sociology, computer-mediated communication (CMC), media ecologies, and affordances. Articles from my dissertation have been published in the International Journal of Communication and Social Media + Society.
I received my BA in computer science and fine art with honors from Brandeis University. After graduation I worked as a software developer and project manager, periodically penning articles on technology and music. At University of Central Florida I majored in communication and taught in the Digital Media department while moonlighting as reseller of vinyl records. My thesis examined habitual use of social network sites among youth groups. This work brought me to California, where I was a research assistant to danah boyd and assistant director of the Annenberg Program on Online Communities. In 2009 I entered the Ph.D program at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California, completing in May 2015. During this time I worked closely with François Bar on community-led design and Henry Jenkins on civic engagement in his Civic Paths group. During this time I was also a member of research groups including Metamorphosis, the Annenberg Innovation lab, and Civic Tech USC. In my spare time I work on my garden, spend time with my daughter, and explore Los Angeles’ diverse communities.