The SMC needs a new full-time Research Assistant. Accepting Applications NOW (to start late-July 2021)

The Microsoft Research Social Media Collective, based in the Cambridge, MA lab location, consists of Nancy Baym, Tarleton Gillespie, and Mary L. Gray, as well as postdoctoral researchers, faculty visitors, and Ph.D. interns affiliated with MSR New England. We are looking for a full-time Research Assistant who will take over from the current RA and work directly with Nancy Baym, Tarleton Gillespie, and Mary L. Gray.

An appropriate candidate will be a self-starter who is passionate and knowledgeable about the social and cultural implications of technology. Strong skills in writing, organization and academic research are essential, as are time-management and multi-tasking. Minimal qualifications are a BA or equivalent degree in a humanities or social science discipline and some qualitative research training. A Masters degree is preferred but we also consider candidates with Bachelor’s degrees and substantial relevant research experience.

Job responsibilities may include:

– Sourcing and curating relevant literature and research materials
– Developing literature reviews and/or creating and managing annotated bibliographies
– Coding ethnographic and interview data
– Copyediting manuscripts
– Working with academic journals on themed sections
– Assisting with research project data management and event organization

The RA will also have opportunities to collaborate on ongoing projects. While publication is not a guarantee, the RA may have the opportunity to co-author papers while at MSR. This full-time position will be adopting Microsoft’s Hybrid Work policies, where employees can now work from home up to 50 percent of the time. It is a 12-month position with a possible option for an extension. The position pays hourly with flexible daytime hours. The start date will ideally be on or soon before July 23, although flexibility may be possible for the right candidate.

This position is perfect for emerging scholars planning to apply to PhD programs in Communication, Media Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, Information Studies, History, Philosophy, STS and Critical Data Studies, and related fields who want to develop their research skills and area expertise before entering a graduate program. Current New England-based MA/PhD students are welcome to apply provided they can commit to 40 hours of work per week.

To apply, please send an email to Mary (mLg@microsoft.com) with the subject “RA Application” and include the following attachments:

– One-page (single-spaced) personal statement, including a description of research experience and training, interests, and professional goals
– CV or resume
– Writing sample (preferably a literature review or a scholarly-styled article)
– Links to public online presence (e.g., blog, homepage, Twitter, journalistic endeavors, etc.)
– The names and email addresses of two recommenders

Be sure to include your last name in file names of all documents you attach.

We will begin reviewing applications on June 1. We hope to make a hiring decision no later than June 30.

We regret that because this is a time-limited contract position, we can only consider candidates who are already legally authorized to work in the United States.

Please feel free to ask questions about the position in the blog comments.

New book excerpt: The Gentrification of the Internet

Hi SMC friends! Just a quick post to announce a new book, out this month from UC Press. In researching craigslist for an earlier project, I started thinking about changing digital culture as a form of gentrification. With this book, I wanted to think in more depth about how the internet is gentrifying, with the hope of writing for a general readership. Here’s a quick video (courtesy of the awesome comms team at Annenberg) and here’s an excerpt from the intro (courtesy of UC Press). I’m grateful to the support I’ve had from many SMC folx on the way to writing this book!

2021 Arrivals to the SMC!

UPDATE: One more to add!

Muira McCammon is a PhD candidate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication and holds a Master in Law from Penn Law. She studies how information flows through the U.S. administrative state, and her dissertation examines government deletion practices on Twitter. She has published on this work in New Media & Society and Information, Communication, & Society. At Microsoft Research, Muira will work with danah boyd on questions related to transparency, government speech, and public-sector data infrastructures.


While we can’t welcome them in person, given the circumstances of the world, we’re truly fortunate to have even more than our usual share arriving remotely, for postdoc and intern positions at the Social Media Collective. Please join me in welcoming them!

Photo of Karina Rider

Karina Rider is our incoming SMC postdoc for 2021-2023! Karina is finishing her PhD in the Department of Sociology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada. Her dissertation is an ethnographic study of civic technology volunteering in the San Francisco Bay Area, and explores the relationship between “tech for good” initiatives, network capitalism, and municipal governments. She has an MA in Sociology from the University of Washington and a BA in Sociology from San José State University. Her next project is a comparative study of how local, grassroots organizations mobilize in order to resist efforts by technology companies to build large corporate campuses in different cities around the world.

Photo of Andrea Alarcon

Andrea Alarcón is joining Microsoft Research New England as an intern, working with Mary Gray and the Social Media Collective, to examine transnational labor flows and the digital economy. Andrea is particularly interested in studying the appropriation of social media platforms as gateways to the web, and transnational, online labor cultures. Before becoming a PhD candidate at USC Annenberg, Andrea received her MSc degree from the Oxford Internet Institute, and her BSc in online journalism from the University of Florida. She also worked as a Research Assistant with Microsoft Research’s Social Media Collective. Before academia, she worked as a web producer and editor for the World Bank, and in social media for Discovery Channel in Latin America.

Photo of Benjamin Ale-Ebrahim

Benjamin Ale-Ebrahim is joining Microsoft Research New England as a joint MSR / E+D JEM Project Intern, working with Mary Gray and the Social Media Collective studying gender identity and pronoun use in the workplace. His dissertation research explores the relationship between social media platform policies and the development of LGBTQ+ social movements in the Middle East and North Africa. He will be working remotely over the summer while he completes his doctoral dissertation in sociocultural anthropology at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Photo of Kristen Bowen

Kristen Bowen is a PhD candidate in Information Science at UNC-Chapel Hill, and has just begun her internship working with Nancy Baym and the SMC. Her research centers the online information behavior of marginalized populations (particularly individuals with nonapparent disabilities and/or members of minoritized racial groups). The primary goal is to determine the ways social media & technology support or act as barriers to the health and wellbeing of these populations. Her dissertation research examines Black emerging adults’ (18-25) information exchange experiences on their mental wellbeing regarding experienced sexual violence. This summer, Kristen is exploring the influence of remote work on the wellbeing of Black adults, inclusive of individuals with disabilities.

Photo of Tristan Gohring

Tristan Gohring is a PhD candidate in Informatics at Indiana University. They are returning to Microsoft Research New England as a joint MSR / E+D JEM Project Intern, working with Mary Gray and the Social Media Collective studying gender identity and pronoun use in the workplace. Their doctorial research sits at the intersecting fields of science and technology studies, social informatics, and gender studies. Their primary research is about gender as a classification system, and how gender classification gets used and embedded in technologies, such as identification documents and online forms and profile pages.

Photo of Calvin Liang

Calvin Liang will join Microsoft Research New England as a Research Intern working with Mary Gray in the Social Media Collective on the Pandemic Response Network Project. He is a third year PhD Student in the Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington. His research explores the intersections of queerness, health, and technology by examining how to design technological interventions that support LGBTQ+ people with their health and challenge normative values and practices in health more broadly.

Photo of Katherine Lou

Katherine Lou will join Microsoft Research New England as a Research Intern working with Mary Gray in the Social Media Collective on the Pandemic Response Network Project. She’s currently finishing her last semester at Harvard University, where she’s studying sociology and computer science. Her work lies at the intersection of technology and the social sciences, to build tech that enables meaningful human connections.

Rida Qadri is joining Microsoft Research New England as an intern with Mary Gray and the SMC to work on questions about the future of digital work in the Global South. She is currently a PhD candidate in Urban Information Systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research seeks to uncover the myriad ways in which human labor and informal relationships sustain digital technologies, particularly in non-western contexts. By exploring the limited efficiencies of algorithmic mediation within the Global South, she hopes to contribute to more inclusive technological artifacts. Her dissertation examines the social relationships and strategies of resistance crafted by Jakarta’s platform motorbike-taxi drivers as they labor in the city’s app-mediated mobility market.

Kate Sim has already arrived, and is in the midst of her spring internship working with Tarleton Gillespie and the SMC. She is a PhD Candidate at the Oxford Internet Institute interested in questions of gender, violence, power, and digital media. Her dissertation examines the ethical, cultural, and legal implications of data-driven reporting systems used for campus safety in US higher education. At the SMC, she is exploring how platform companies figure ideas of harm and care in their content moderation and the mechanisms for user contact and complaint. 

Ihudiya Finda Williams is a PhD candidate and Rackham Merit Fellow at the University of Michigan School of Information. Her research occurs at the intersection of race, class, and technology. Her dissertation focuses on understanding and developing tools and resources with and for returning citizens (formerly incarcerated individuals), specifically to enhance digital literacy for job search. At the Social Media Collective, Ihudiya will be exploring the online meeting experiences of African Americans in various work settings. She holds a M.Ed in Technology, Innovation, and Education from Harvard University, and a BS in Information Technology from Rochester Institute of Technology. Ihudiya publishes under her pen name, Ihudiya Finda Ogbonnaya-Ogburu.