One of the coolest things about being at Microsoft Research is that there are systems in place that make it very easy to collaborate with faculty at other institutions. I took advantage of this for the first time last week when I invited Bernie Hogan of Oxford Internet Institute to come and play with me. Bernie and I have known each other for a long time and vowed that we would work together when we got through our individual dissertations. The time has finally come to make real on that promise. So we sat down and started plotting some research that we’d like to do together.
If you read my blog and you don’t know Bernie’s work, you should. Bernie’s dissertation – “Networking in Everyday Life” examines how people leverage different channels of communication to connect to people in their lives. In other words, rather than focusing on just one genre (e.g., Facebook or telephone) or comparing specific genres to face-to-face, he looks at how communication is differentiated across these different channels. His argument is that each individual channel makes things more convenient but that, in sum, communication is far less convenient because we now have to remember who to contact through what means to achieve the desired result. Bernie’s diss does an amazing job at thinking about the role of technological affordances in shaping people’s mediated communication.
Bernie is a true sociologist (whereas I’m whatever label you paste on me today). He’s also a social network analyst. And he’s wicked smart. So I feel like a little kid in a candy store for having spent a whole week chewing on puzzles together. What is especially amazing to me is that we continue to circle in on similar topics from vastly different directions. He and I are both obsessed with context, inequality, communication choice, etc. but we think about these issues from VERY different perspectives. But now I get to play with him and I already feel smarter for that.
I feel like I’m writing a Testimonial. But what I mean to say is that those of you interested in social media, social networks, information overload, and other such related concepts should really read Bernie’s diss: “Networking in Everyday Life”.
I just learned that Bernie’s diss has won the Communications Dordick Award for Best Dissertation – ROCKING! That’s just way cool!!