Playing to the NYC Crowd and other SMC outings

As I hope you’ve heard by now, the SMC is publishing books like mad. Tarleton Gillespie’s Custodians of the Internet is blazing a trail through the content moderation debate, Mary Gray and Sid Suri’s Ghost Work will be out in May, and my own Playing to the Crowd has hit the road seeking readers.

In that vein, here are some upcoming public events where I will be talking about my book in NYC and its environs:

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Monday October 1 @ 3-4 pm: A small book session for people who have read the book (pre-registration required) at Data & Society

Tuesday, October 2nd @ 7 pm: In conversation with Erin McKeown at Rough Trade 

Wednesday October 3 @ 12-1: Colloquium at Columbia University Communications Department, Pulitzer Hall 601B

Wednesday October 3 @ 6-9 pm: In conversation with Clive Thompson at Betaworks (register via the link)

Thursday, October 4 @ 2:50 PM – 4:10 PM: Rutgers School of Communication and Information (New Brunswick NJ)

There will be a few more talks coming up elsewhere (University of Illinois Chicago 11/29, University of Michigan 12/4, London in January, Oslo in February). If you’re interested in inviting me to talk with your folks, shoot me an email.

Hope to meet some of you there!

We’re Hiring a Research Assistant

The Social Media Collective is looking for a Research Assistant to work with us at Microsoft Research New England in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The MSR Social Media Collective currently consists of Nancy Baym, Tarleton Gillespie, Mary L. Gray, Dan Greene, and Dylan Mulvin in Cambridge, Kate Crawford and danah boyd in New York City, as well as faculty visitors and Ph.D. interns affiliated with the MSR New England. The RA will take over from current RA Sarah Hamid and will 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.

Job responsibilities will include:

– Sourcing and curating relevant literature and research materials
– Developing literature reviews and/or 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 will be encouraged to co-author papers while at MSR. The RAship will require 40 hours per week on site in Cambridge, MA. It is a 6 month contractor position, which we expect to extend an additional 6-12 months. The position pays hourly with flexible daytime hours. The start date will ideally be January 9, 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 on-site work per week.

To apply, please send an email to Nancy Baym (baym@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 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 October 15. We hope to make a hiring decision in early November.

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.

Announcing our incoming Postdocs

Once again we faced an embarrassment of riches in selecting postdoctoral researchers. It is exciting to see the diversity and quality of research coming up and gives us great optimism as we think about the future of research about social dimensions of technology.

We are delighted to introduce two new Postdocs who will join us in July 2016.

 

Dan Greene, University of Maryland

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Dan Greene is currently a PhD candidate in American Studies at the University of Maryland, a University Flagship Fellow, and a researcher in the Ethics & Values in Design Lab. A former social worker, Dan’s research focuses on the technologies and institutions that teach us how, why, and where to work in the information economy. His dissertation draws on extensive ethnographic fieldwork to explore the reproduction of the digital divide and how urban institutions like startups, charter schools, and public libraries make the problem of poverty a problem of technology and remake themselves in the process. As a post-doctoral researcher, Dan will be researching the automation of human resources management, particularly the development of technologies for hiring and firing. His work has been published in TripleC, Surveillance & Society, and the International Journal of Communication, and can be found at dmgreene.net

Dylan Mulvin, McGill University
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Dylan Mulvin joins the Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research from McGill University, where he is completing a PhD in Communication Studies. He researches the history of technology and the cultural politics of media. His dissertation considers the media practices of engineers, scientists, and bureaucrats in the crafting of measurement standards. His work on the history of video, television, and standards, has appeared in Television & New Media, The Journal of Visual Culture, and The International Journal of Communication. He is co-editor, with Jonathan Sterne, of a special section of the IJOC on temperature and media studies. At MSRNE Dylan will begin a history of the Year 2000 Problem, better known as the Y2K bug (no, he did not lose a bet). This history attempts to recuperate the Y2K bug as a major repair event, an often overlooked milestone in public computer pedagogy, and one of the greatest recent efforts to train individuals, community groups, and policy makers in the management of precarious technological systems.

 

Reminder! MSR Social Media Collective PhD Intern Call, Cycle 2016!

APPLICATION DEADLINE: JANUARY 29, 2016

Microsoft Research New England (MSRNE) is looking for advanced PhD students to join the Social Media Collective (SMC) for its 12-week 2016 Intern Program. The Social Media Collective scholars at MSRNE bring together empirical and critical perspectives to address complex socio-technical issues. Our research agenda draws on a social scientific/humanistic lens to understand the social meanings and possible futures of media and communication technologies. The ideal candidate may be trained in any number of disciplines (including anthropology, communication, information studies, media studies, sociology, science and technology studies, or a related field), but should have a strong social scientific or humanistic methodological, analytical, and theoretical foundation, be interested in questions related to media or communication technologies and society or culture, and be interested in working in a highly interdisciplinary environment that includes computer scientists, mathematicians, and economists.

MSRNE internships are 12-week paid internships in Cambridge, Massachusetts. PhD interns are expected to be on-site for the duration of their internship. Primary mentors for this year will be Nancy Baym, Tarleton Gillespie, and Mary L. Gray, with additional guidance offered by our lab postdocs and visiting scholars.

PhD interns at MSRNE are expected to devise and execute a research project (see project requirements below), based on their application project proposals, during their internships. The expected outcome of an internship at MSRNE is a draft of a publishable scholarly paper for an academic journal or conference of the intern’s choosing. Our goal is to help the intern advance their own career; interns are strongly encouraged to work towards a creative outcome that will help them on the academic job market. Interns are also expected to collaborate on projects or papers with full-time researchers and visitors, contribute to the SMC blog, give short presentations, attend the weekly lab colloquia, and contribute to the life of the community through weekly lunches with fellow PhD interns and the broader lab community. While this is not an applied program, MSRNE encourages interdisciplinary collaboration with computer scientists, economists, and mathematicians.

PEOPLE AT MSRNE SOCIAL MEDIA COLLECTIVE

The Social Media Collective is comprised of full-time researchers, postdocs, visiting faculty, Ph.D. interns, and research assistants. Current projects in New England include:

  • How does the use of social media affect relationships between artists and audiences in creative industries, and what does that tell us about the future of work? (Nancy Baym)
  • How are social media platforms, through algorithmic design and user policies, adopting the role of intermediaries for public discourse? (Tarleton Gillespie)
  • What are the cultural, political, and economic implications of crowdsourcing as a new form of semi-automated, globally-distributed digital labor? (Mary L. Gray)
  • How are predictive analytics used by law enforcement and what are the implications of new data-driven surveillance practices? (Sarah Brayne)
  • What are the social and political consequences of popular computing folklore? (Kevin Driscoll)
  • How are the technologies of money changing and what are the social implications of those changes? (Lana Swartz)

SMC PhD interns may have the opportunity to connect with our sister Social Media Collective members in New York City. Related projects in New York City include:

  • What are the politics, ethics, and policy implications of big data science? (Kate Crawford, MSR-NYC)
  • What are the social and cultural issues arising from data-centric technological development? (danah boyd, Data & Society Research Institute)

We are looking for applicants to focus their proposals on one of the following seven areas (though, you may propose a project that speaks to more than one of these):

  1. Personal relationships and digital media
  2. Audiences and the shifting landscapes of socially mediated entertainment
  3. Affective, immaterial, and other frameworks for understanding digital labor
  4. The social and political consequences of popular computing folklore
  5. The politics of big data, algorithms, and computational culture
  6. How emerging technologies shape countercultures, identities, and communities of difference
  7. Histories of computing and the internet that focus on the experiences of people from marginalized social, economic, racial, or geographic groups

Applicants should have advanced to candidacy in their PhD program by the time they start their internship (unfortunately, there are no opportunities for Master’s students or early PhD students at this time). Interns will benefit most from this opportunity if there are natural opportunities for collaboration with other researchers or visitors currently working at MSRNE. Applicants from historically marginalized communities, underrepresented in higher education, and students from universities outside of the United States are encouraged to apply.

For a complete list of all permanent researchers and current postdocs based at the New England lab see:

Which is: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/labs/newengland/people/bios.aspx

Previous MSRNE interns in the Collective have included Amelia Abreu (UWashington, information), Stacy Blasiola (University of Illinois, Chicago, communication), Jed Brubaker (UC-Irvine, informatics), Aleena Chia (Indiana U. communication and culture), Jade Davis (University of North Carolina, communication), Brittany Fiore-Silfvast (University of Washington, communication), Scott Golder (Cornell, sociology), Germaine Halegoua (U. Wisconsin, communications), Tero Karppi (University of Turku, media studies), Airi Lampinen (HIIT, information), Jessa Lingel (Rutgers, library and information science), Joshua McVeigh-Schultz (University of Southern California, interactive media), Alice Marwick (NYU, media culture communication), J. Nathan Matias (MIT Media Lab), Jolie Matthews (Stanford, learning sciences), Tressie McMillan Cottom (Emory, sociology), Andrés Monroy-Hernandez (MIT, Media Lab), Laura Noren (NYU, sociology), Nick Seaver (UC Irvine, anthropology), Jaroslav Svelch (Charles University, media studies), Katrin Tiidenberg (Tallinn University, Institute of International and Social Studies), Shawn Walker (UWashington, information), Omar Wasow (Harvard, African-American studies), Sarita Yardi (GeorgiaTech, HCI), and Kathryn Zyskowski (University of Washington, anthropology).

For more information about the Social Media Collective, visit our blog: https://socialmediacollective.org/

APPLICATION PROCESS

To apply for a PhD internship with the social media collective:

  1. Fill out the online application form: https://research.microsoft.com/apps/tools/jobs/intern.aspx

On the application website, indicate that your research area of interest is “Anthropology, Communication, Media Studies, and Sociology” and that your location preference is “New England, MA, U.S.” in the pull down menus. Also enter the name of a mentor (Nancy Baym, Tarleton Gillespie, or Mary Gray) whose work most directly relates to your own in the “Microsoft Research Contact” field. IF YOU DO NOT MARK THESE PREFERENCES WE WILL NOT RECEIVE YOUR APPLICATION. So, please, make sure to follow these detailed instructions.

Your application will need to include:

  1. A brief description of your dissertation project.
  2. An academic article-length manuscript (~7,000 or more) that you have authored or co-authored (published or unpublished) that demonstrates your writing skills.
  3. A copy of your CV.
  4. The names and contact information for 3 references (one contact name must be your dissertation advisor).
  5. A pointer to your website or other online presence (if available; not required).
  6. A short description (no more than 2 pages, single spaced) of 1 or 2 projects that you propose to do while interning at MSRNE, independently and/or in collaboration with current SMC researchers. The project proposals can be related to but must be distinct from your dissertation research. Be specific and tell us: 1) What is the research question animating your proposed project? 2) What methods would you use to address your question? 3) How does your research question speak to the interests of the SMC? and 4) Who do you hope to reach (who are you engaging) with this proposed research? This is important – we really want to know what it is you want to work on with us and we need to know that it is not, simply, a continuation of your dissertation project.

On Letters of Reference:

After you submit your application, a request for letters will be sent to your list of referees, on your behalf. NOTE: THE APPLICATION SYSTEM WILL NOT REQUEST REFERENCE LETTERS UNTIL AFTER YOU HAVE SUBMITTED YOUR APPLICATION! Please warn your letter writers in advance so that they will be ready to submit them when they receive the prompt. The email they receive will automatically tell them they have two weeks to respond but that an individual call for applicants may have an earlier deadline. Please ensure that they expect this email (tell them to check their spam folders, too!) and are prepared to submit your letter by our application deadline of Friday 29 January, 2016. Please make sure to check back with your referees if you have any questions about the status of your requested letters of recommendation. You can check the progress on individual reference requests at any time by clicking the status tab within your application page. Note that a complete application must include three submitted letters of reference.

TIMELINE

Due to the volume of applications, late submissions (including submissions with late letters of reference) will not be considered. We will not be able to provide specific feedback on individual applications. Finalists will be contacted the last week in February to arrange a Skype interview before the internship slots available to us are assigned (note: number of available slots changes year-to-year). Please keep an eye on the socialmediacollective.org blog as we announce the 2016 PhD Interns on the blog by the end of March.

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact Mary Gray at mLg@microsoft.com and include “SMC PhD Internship” in the subject line.

PREVIOUS INTERN TESTIMONIALS

“The internship at Microsoft Research was all of the things I wanted it to be – personally productive, intellectually rich, quiet enough to focus, noisy enough to avoid complete hermit-like cave dwelling behavior, and full of opportunities to begin ongoing professional relationships with other scholars who I might not have run into elsewhere.”
— Laura Noren, Sociology, New York University

“If I could design my own graduate school experience, it would feel a lot like my summer at Microsoft Research. I had the chance to undertake a project that I’d wanted to do for a long time, surrounded by really supportive and engaging thinkers who could provide guidance on things to read and concepts to consider, but who could also provoke interesting questions on the ethics of ethnographic work or the complexities of building an identity as a social sciences researcher. Overall, it was a terrific experience for me as a researcher as well as a thinker.”
— Jessica Lingel, Library and Information Science, Rutgers University

“Spending the summer as an intern at MSR was an extremely rewarding learning experience. Having the opportunity to develop and work on your own projects as well as collaborate and workshop ideas with prestigious and extremely talented researchers was invaluable. It was amazing how all of the members of the Social Media Collective came together to create this motivating environment that was open, supportive, and collaborative. Being able to observe how renowned researchers streamline ideas, develop projects, conduct research, and manage the writing process was a uniquely helpful experience – and not only being able to observe and ask questions, but to contribute to some of these stages was amazing and unexpected.”
— Germaine Halegoua, Communication Arts, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Not only was I able to work with so many smart people, but the thoughtfulness and care they took when they engaged with my research can’t be stressed enough. The ability to truly listen to someone is so important. You have these researchers doing multiple, fascinating projects, but they still make time to help out interns in whatever way they can. I always felt I had everyone’s attention when I spoke about my project or other issues I had, and everyone was always willing to discuss any questions I had, or even if I just wanted clarification on a comment someone had made at an earlier point. Another favorite aspect of mine was learning about other interns’ projects and connecting with people outside my discipline.”
–Jolie Matthews, Education, Stanford University

Re-assembling the Assembly Line: Digital Labor Economies and Demands for an Ambient Workforce

Watch Mary Gray’s talk at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society where she discusses her findings from a two-year collaborative study on crowdwork –“the process of taking tasks that would normally be delegated to an employee and distributing them to a large pool of online workers, the ‘crowd,’ in the form of an open call.” In this talk she addresses ideas about the cultural meaning, political implications, and ethical demands of crowdwork.

The Social Media Collective is Hiring Postdocs

The Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research New England (MSRNE) is looking for two social media postdoctoral researchers (start date: 5 July, 2016). This position is an ideal opportunity for a scholar whose work draws on anthropology, communication, media studies, sociology, and/or science and technology studies to bring empirical and critical perspectives to complex socio-technical issues. Application deadline: Friday 6 November, 2015.

Microsoft Research provides a vibrant multidisciplinary research environment, with an open publications policy and close links to top academic institutions around the world. Postdoctoral researcher positions provide emerging scholars (PhDs received late 2015 or to be conferred by July 2016) an opportunity to develop their research career and to interact with some of the top minds in the research community. Postdoctoral researchers define their own research agenda. Successful candidates will have a well-established research track record as demonstrated by journal publications and conference papers, as well as participation on program committees, editorial boards, and advisory panels.

While each of the Microsoft Research labs has openings in a variety of different disciplines, this position with the Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research New England specifically seeks social science/humanities candidates with critical approaches to their topics. Qualifications include a strong academic record in anthropology, communication, media studies, sociology, science and technology studies, or a related field. The ideal candidate may be trained in any number of disciplines, but should have a strong social scientific or humanistic methodological, analytical, and theoretical foundation, be interested in questions related to technology or the internet and society or culture, and be interested in working in a highly interdisciplinary environment that includes computer scientists, mathematicians, and economists.

The Social Media Collective is comprised of full-time researchers, postdocs, visiting faculty, Ph.D. interns, and research assistants. Current projects in New England include:

– How does the use of social media affect relationships between artists and audiences in creative industries, and what does that tell us about the future of work? (Nancy Baym)

– How are social media platforms, through algorithmic design and user policies, adopting the role of intermediaries for public discourse? (Tarleton Gillespie)

– What are the cultural, political, and economic implications of crowdsourcing as a new form of semi-automated, globally-distributed digital labor? (Mary L. Gray)

– How are predictive analytics used by law enforcement and what are the implications of new data-driven surveillance practices? (Sarah Brayne)

– What are the social and political consequences of popular computing folklore? (Kevin Driscoll)

– How are the technologies of money changing and what are the social implications of those changes? (Lana Swartz)

SMC postdocs may have the opportunity to visit and collaborate with our sister Social Media Collective members in New York City. Related projects in New York City include:

– What are the politics, ethics, and policy implications of big data science? (Kate Crawford, MSR-NYC)

– What are the social and cultural issues arising from data-centric technological development? (danah boyd, Data & Society Research Institute)

Postdoctoral researchers receive a competitive salary and benefits package, and are eligible for relocation expenses.  Postdoctoral researchers are hired for a two-year term appointment following the academic calendar, starting in July 2016. Applicants must have completed the requirements for a PhD, including submission of their dissertation, prior to joining Microsoft Research. We encourage those with tenure-track job offers from other institutions to apply, so long as they can defer their start date to accept our position.

To apply for a postdoc position at MSRNE:

Submit an online application here.

– On the application website, indicate that your research area of interest is “Anthropology, Communication, Media Studies, and Sociology” and that your location preference is “New England, MA, U.S.” in the pull down menus. IF YOU DO NOT MARK THESE PREFERENCES WE WILL NOT RECEIVE YOUR APPLICATION. 

– In addition to your CV and names of three referees (including your dissertation advisor) that the online application requires, upload the following 3 attachments with your online application:

  1. two journal articles, book chapters, or equivalent writing samples (uploaded as two separate attachments);
  2. a single research statement (four page maximum length) that does the following: outlines the questions and methodologies central to your research agenda (~two page); provides an abstract and chapter outline of your dissertation (~one page); offers a description of how your research agenda relates to research conducted by the Social Media Collective (~one page)

After you submit your application, a request for letters will be sent to your list of referees on your behalf. NOTE: THE APPLICATION SYSTEM WILL NOT REQUEST REFERENCE LETTERS UNTIL AFTER YOU HAVE SUBMITTED YOUR APPLICATION! Please warn your letter writers in advance so that they will be ready to submit them when they receive the prompt. The email they receive will automatically tell them they have two weeks to respond but that an individual call for applicants may have an earlier deadline. Please ensure that they expect this and are prepared to submit your letter by our application deadline of Friday 6 November, 2015. Please make sure to check back with your referees if you have any questions about the status of your requested letters of recommendation. You can check the progress on individual reference requests at any time by clicking the status tab within your application page. Note that a complete application must include three submitted letters of reference.

For more information, see here.

Feel free to ask questions about the position in the comments below.

Co-creation and Algorithmic Self-Determination: A study of player feedback on game analytics in EVE Online

We are happy to share SMC’s intern Aleena Chia’s presentation of her summer project titled “Co-creation and Algorithmic Self-Determination: A study of player feedback on game analytics in EVE Online”.  

Aleena’s project summary and the videos of her presentation below:

Digital games are always already information systems designed to respond to players’ inputs with meaningful feedback (Salen and Zimmerman 2004). These feedback loops constitute a form of algorithmic surveillance that have been repurposed by online game companies to gather information about player behavior for consumer research (O’Donnell 2014). Research on player behavior gathered from game clients constitutes a branch of consumer research known as game analytics (Seif et al 2013).[1] In conjunction with established channels of customer feedback such as player forums, surveys, polls, and focus groups, game analytics informs companies’ adjustments and augmentations to their games (Kline et al 2005). EVE Online is a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) that uses these research methods in a distinct configuration. The game’s developers assemble a democratically elected council of players tasked with the filtration of player interests from forums to inform their (1) agenda setting and (2) contextualization of game analytics in the planning and implementation of adjustments and augmentations.

This study investigates the council’s agenda setting and contextualization functions as a form of co-creation that draws players into processes of game development, as interlocutors in consumer research. This contrasts with forms of co-creation that emphasize consumers’ contributions to the production and circulation of media content and experiences (Banks 2013). By qualitatively analyzing meeting minutes between EVE Online’s player council and developers over seven years, this study suggests that co-creative consumer research draws from imaginaries of player governance caught between the twin desires of corporate efficiency and democratic efficacy. These desires are darned together through a quantitative public sphere (Peters 2001) that is enabled and eclipsed by game analytics. In other words, algorithmic techniques facilitate collective self-knowledge that players seek for co-creative deliberation; these same techniques also short circuit deliberation through claims of neutrality, immediacy, and efficiency.

The significance of this study lies in its analysis of a consumer public’s (Arvidsson 2013) ambivalent struggle for algorithmic self-determination – the determination by users through deliberative means of how their aggregated acts should be translated by algorithms into collective will. This is not primarily a struggle of consumers against corporations; nor of political principles against capitalist imperatives; nor of aggregated numbers against individual voices. It is a struggle within communicative democracy for efficiency and efficacy (Anderson 2011). It is also a struggle for communicative democracy within corporate enclosures. These struggles grind on productive contradictions that fuel the co-creative enterprise. However, while the founding vision of co-creation gestured towards a win-win state, this analysis concludes that algorithmic self-determination prioritizes efficacy over efficiency, process over product. These commitments are best served by media companies oriented towards user retention rather than recruitment, business sustainability rather than growth, and that are flexible enough to slow down their co-creative processes.

[1] Seif et al (2013) maintain that player behavior data is an important component of game analytics, which includes the statistical analysis, predictive modeling, optimization, and forecasting of all forms of data for decision making in game development. Other data include revenue, technical performance, and organizational process metrics.

(Video 1)

(Video 2)

(Video 3)

(Video 4)

Hello Andrea (SMC’s 2015-16 Research Assistant Extraordinaire!)

As we say goodbye to the *amazzzzing* Rebecca Hoffman <serious sad face emoji>, we have the solace of welcoming Andrea Alarcón to SMC’s ranks.

Andrea received her MSc degree from the Oxford Internet Institute, and her BSc in online journalism from the University of Florida. She has researched ICT4D, online language barriers and data collection by international corporations in developing nations. She has worked as a web producer and editor for the World Bank, and in social media for Discovery Channel in Latin America. She currently writes about digital culture for Colombian mainstream media.

Please join us in welcoming Andrea to MSR!

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Introducing the 2015 MSR SMC PhD Interns!

Well, after a truly exciting spell of reviewing an AMAZING set of applications for our 2015 PhD Internship Program, we had the absolutely excruciating task of selecting just a few from the pool (note: this is our Collective’s least favorite part of the process).

Without further ado, we are pleased to announce our 2015 Microsoft Research SMC PhD interns:

At MSR New England:

Aleena Chia

Aleena

Aleena Chia is a Ph.D. Candidate in Communication and Culture at Indiana University. Her ethnographic research investigates the affective politics and moral economics of participatory culture, in the context of digital and live-action game worlds. She is a recipient of the Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork grant and has published work in American Behavioral Scientist. Aleena will be working with Mary L. Gray, researching connections between consumer protests, modularity of consumer labor, and portability of compensatory assets in digital and live-action gaming communities.

 

 

 

Stacy Blasiola

Stacy

Stacy Blasiola is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago and also holds an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. Stacy uses a mixed methods approach to study the social impacts of algorithms. Using the methods of big data she examines how news events appear in newsfeeds, and using qualitative methods she investigates how the people that use digital technologies understand, negotiate, and challenge the algorithms that present digital information. As a recipient of a National Science Foundation IGERT Fellowship in Electronic Security and Privacy, her work includes approaching algorithms and the databases that enable them from a privacy perspective. Stacy will be working with Nancy Baym and Tarleton Gillespie on a project that analyzes the discursive work of Facebook in regards to its social newsfeed algorithm.

 

J. Nathan Matias

NathanNathan Matias is a Ph.D. Student at the MIT Media Lab Center for Civic Media, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and a DERP Institute fellow. Nathan researches technology for civic cooperation, activism, and expression through qualitative action research with communities, data analysis, software design, and field experiments.  Most recently, Nathan has been conducting large-scale studies and interventions on the effects of gender bias, online harassment, gratitude, and peer thanks in social media, corporations, and creative communities like Wikipedia. Nathan was a MSR Fuse Labs intern in 2013 with Andrés Monroy Hernández, where he designed NewsPad, a collaborative technology for neighborhood blogging. Winner of the ACM’s Nelson Prize, Nathan has published data journalism, technology criticism, and literary writing for the Atlantic, the Guardian, and PBS. Before MIT, he worked at technology startups Texperts and SwiftKey, whose products have reached over a hundred million people worldwide. At MSR, Nathan will be working with Tarleton Gillespie and Mary L. Gray, studying the professionalization of digital labor among community managers and safety teams in civic, microwork, and peer economy platforms. He will also be writing about ways that marginalized communities use data and code to respond and reshape their experience of harassment and hate speech online.

 

At MSR New York City:

Ifeoma Ajunwa

ajunwa

Ifeoma Ajunwa is a Paul F. Lazersfeld Fellow in the Sociology Department at the University of Columbia. She received her MPhil in Sociology from Columbia University in 2012. She was the recipient of the AAUW Selected Professions Fellowship in law school after which she practiced business law, international law, and intellectual property law. She has also conducted research for such organizations as the NAACP, the United Nations Human Rights Council, the ACLU of NY (the NYCLU), and UNESCO. Her prior independent research before graduate school include a pilot study at Stanford Law School where she interrogated the link between stereotype threat and the intersecting dynamics of gender, race, and economic class in relation to Bar exam preparation and passage. Ifeoma’s writing has also been published in the NY Times, the HuffingtonPost, and she has been interviewed for Uptown Radio in NYC. She will be working with Kate Crawford at MSR-NYC on data discrimination. 

 

 

 

It’s MSR Social Media Collective 2015 PhD Intern Application Season!

* APPLICATION DEADLINE: JANUARY 31, 2015 *

Microsoft Research New England (MSRNE) is looking for advanced PhD students to join the Social Media Collective for its 12-week 2015 Summer Intern Program. The Social Media Collective scholars at MSRNE bring together empirical and critical perspectives to address complex socio-technical issues. Our research agenda draws on a social scientific/humanistic lens to understand the social meanings and possible futures of technology. The ideal candidate may be trained in any number of disciplines (including anthropology, communication, information studies, media studies, sociology, science and technology studies, or a related field), but should have a strong social scientific or humanistic methodological, analytical, and theoretical foundation, be interested in questions related to media or communication technologies and society or culture, and be interested in working in a highly interdisciplinary environment that includes computer scientists, mathematicians, and economists.

MSRNE internships are 12-week paid internships in Cambridge, Massachusetts. PhD interns are expected to be on-site for the duration of their internship. Primary mentors for this year will be Nancy Baym and Mary L. Gray, with additional guidance offered by our lab postdocs and visiting scholars.

PhD interns at MSRNE are expected to devise and execute a research project (see project requirements below), based on their application project proposals, during their internships. The expected outcome of an internship at MSRNE is a publishable scholarly paper for an academic journal or conference of the intern’s choosing. Our goal is to help the intern advance their own career; interns are strongly encouraged to work towards a publication outcome that will help them on the academic job market. Interns are also expected to collaborate on projects or papers with full-time researchers and visitors, contribute to the SMC blog, give short presentations, attend the weekly lab colloquia, and contribute to the life of the community through weekly lunches with fellow PhD interns and the broader lab community. While this is not an applied program, MSRNE encourages interdisciplinary collaboration with computer scientists, economists, and mathematicians.
We are looking for applicants to focus their proposals on one of the following six areas:

1) The politics of big data, algorithms, and computational culture
2) Affective, immaterial, and other frameworks for understanding digital labor
3) The social and political consequences of popular computing folklore
4) Personal relationships and digital media
5) How online technologies shape countercultures and communities of alterity
6) Histories of computing and the internet that focus on the experiences of people from marginalized social, economic, racial, or geographic groups

Applicants should have advanced to candidacy in their PhD program by the time they start their internship (unfortunately, there are no opportunities for Master’s students or early PhD students at this time). Interns will benefit most from this opportunity if there are natural opportunities for collaboration with other researchers or visitors currently working at MSRNE. Applicants from historically marginalized communities, underrepresented in higher education, and students from universities outside of the United States are encouraged to apply.

PEOPLE AT MSRNE SOCIAL MEDIA COLLECTIVE

The Social Media Collective at New England is comprised of researchers, postdocs, and visitors. For the most current list please see: This includes:
–       Principal Researcher Nancy Baym (http://www.nancybaym.com/)
–       Senior Researcher Mary L. Gray (http://marylgray.org/)
–       Postdoctoral Researcher Kevin Driscoll (http://kevindriscoll.info/)
–       Postdoctoral Researcher Jessa Lingel (http://jessalingel.tumblr.com/)

For a complete list of all permanent researchers and current postdocs based at the New England lab see:
Which is: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/labs/newengland/people/bios.aspx

Previous MSRNE interns in the collective have included Amelia Abreu (UWashington, information), Jed Brubaker (UC-Irvine, informatics), Jade Davis (University of North Carolina, communication), Brittany Fiore-Silfvast (University of Washington, communication), Scott Golder (Cornell, sociology), Germaine Halegoua (U. Wisconsin, communications), Tero Karppi (University of Turku, media studies), Airi Lampinen (HIIT, information), Jessa Lingel (Rutgers, library and information science), Joshua McVeigh-Schultz (University of Southern California, interactive media), Alice Marwick (NYU, media culture communication), Jolie Matthews (Stanford, learning sciences), Tressie McMillan Cottom (Emory, sociology), Laura Noren (NYU, sociology), Jaroslav Svelch (Charles University, media studies), Katrin Tiidenberg (Tallinn University, Institute of International and Social Studies), Shawn Walker (UWashington, information), Omar Wasow (Harvard, African-American studies), Sarita Yardi (GeorgiaTech, HCI), and Kathryn Zyskowski (University of Washington, anthropology).

For more information about the Social Media Collective, visit our blog: https://socialmediacollective.org/

APPLICATION PROCESS

To apply for a PhD internship with the social media collective:

1. Fill out the online application form: https://research.microsoft.com/apps/tools/jobs/intern.aspx

Make sure to indicate that you prefer Microsoft Research New England and “social media” or “social computing.” You will need to list two recommenders through this form.  Make sure your recommenders respond to the request for letters so that their letters are also submitted by the deadline.

You will need to include:
a. A brief description of your dissertation project.
b. An academic article-length manuscript that you have written (published or unpublished) that demonstrates your writing skills.
c. A copy of your CV.
d. A pointer to your website or other online presence (if available).
e. A short description (no more than 2 pages, single spaced) of 1 or 2 projects that you propose to do while interning at MSRNE, independently and/or in collaboration with current SMC researchers. The project proposals can be related to but must be distinct from your dissertation research. Be specific and tell us: 1) What is the research question animating your proposed project? 2) What methods would you use to address your question? 3) How does your research question speak to the interests of the SMC? and 4) Who do you hope to reach (who are you engaging) with this proposed research? This is important – we really want to know what it is you want to work on with us and we need to know that it is not, simply, a continuation of your dissertation project.

We will begin considering internship applications on Feb 1, and will not consider late applications.

PREVIOUS INTERN TESTIMONIALS

“The internship at Microsoft Research was all of the things I wanted it to be – personally productive, intellectually rich, quiet enough to focus, noisy enough to avoid complete hermit-like cave dwelling behavior, and full of opportunities to begin ongoing professional relationships with other scholars who I might not have run into elsewhere.”
— Laura Noren, Sociology, New York University

“If I could design my own graduate school experience, it would feel a lot like my summer at Microsoft Research.  I had the chance to undertake a project that I’d wanted to do for a long time, surrounded by really supportive and engaging thinkers who could provide guidance on things to read and concepts to consider, but who could also provoke interesting questions on the ethics of ethnographic work or the complexities of building an identity as a social sciences researcher. Overall, it was a terrific experience for me as a researcher as well as a thinker.”
— Jessica Lingel, Library and Information Science, Rutgers University

“Spending the summer as an intern at MSR was an extremely rewarding learning experience. Having the opportunity to develop and work on your own projects as well as collaborate and workshop ideas with prestigious and extremely talented researchers was invaluable. It was amazing how all of the members of the Social Media Collective came together to create this motivating environment that was open, supportive, and collaborative. Being able to observe how renowned researchers streamline ideas, develop projects, conduct research, and manage the writing process was a uniquely helpful experience – and not only being able to observe and ask questions, but to contribute to some of these stages was amazing and unexpected.”
— Germaine Halegoua, Communication Arts, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Not only was I able to work with so many smart people, but the thoughtfulness and care they took when they engaged with my research can’t be stressed enough. The ability to truly listen to someone is so important. You have these researchers doing multiple, fascinating projects, but they still make time to help out interns in whatever way they can. I always felt I had everyone’s attention when I spoke about my project or other issues I had, and everyone was always willing to discuss any questions I had, or even if I just wanted clarification on a comment someone had made at an earlier point. Another favorite aspect of mine was learning about other interns’ projects and connecting with people outside my discipline.”
–Jolie Matthews, Education, Stanford University