::bounce:: I am *ecstatic* to announce that Nancy Baym, Kate Crawford, and Mary L. Gray are all joining Microsoft Research New England in Cambridge, MA. See Jennifer Chayes’ announcement. ::bounce::
Three years ago (this week), I joined Microsoft Research to help integrate social scientists and computer scientists. I have known about and admired MSR since my undergraduate days when I was studying computer science. From the perspective of a researcher, it seemed like heaven-on-earth. As I slowly shifted disciplines, I was saddened to think that I had moved myself away from MSR so I was utterly delighted when, in 2008, I learned that Jennifer Chayes wanted to start a lab that brought computer scientists and social scientists together in new ways. I was even more ecstatic when she invited me to help with this endeavor. Over the last three years, I’ve invited numerous scholars to come to MSR as visitors, postdocs, and interns. In particular, I’ve focused on bringing in social scientists from fields that haven’t commonly been in conversation with industrial researchers. This loose network of folks have come to be known as the “Social Media Collective.” Much to my absolute pleasure, Nancy, Kate, and Mary are going to come to MSR to join the Collective.
The Social Media Collective focuses on research related to socio-technical issues, primarily from a social scientific perspective. Most of us use qualitative research methods, but there are also quantitative, computational, and experimental folks among us. We primarily look at topics related to the rise of social media, but we do so from a variety of different disciplinary lenses. Our work tends to have implications for a wide array of audiences: scholarly, technical, policy, business, and public. Nancy, Kate, and Mary are three of the leading scholars in this arena and I’m ecstatic that they’ll be coming to MSR to advance this line of inquiry.
- Nancy Baym is a communication scholar, currently at University of Kansas. She helped define the field of internet studies with her work on personal connections, fandom, and online communities.
- Kate Crawford is a media studies scholar, currently at the University of New South Wales. She weaves together a diverse set of interests to examine mobile media, intimacy, and listening, with an eye towards public policy implications.
- Mary L. Gray is an anthropologist, currently at Indiana University. Her work on rural queer youth has helped complicate our understandings of marginalized populations’ use of technology.
Each of these phenomenal scholars has a long history of helping us understand the relationship between technology and society and I’m sooo soooo soooo excited that they’re coming to MSR. As all of you who know me know, I love MSR. I also love Nancy, Kate, and Mary. So the combination makes me feel like a kid in a candy store.
MSR is a truly special place: an interdisciplinary home base for folks who are interested in studying issues related to technology. I still remember the day that Nancy, Kate, and Mary came back from talking to a group of computer scientists and mathematicians about the very meaning of “communication.” Needless to say, social scientists don’t use that term in the same way as mathematicians. But instead of being horrified, these three were glowing because they ended up diving deep into the kind of intense conversations that only scholars relish. That’s when I knew that MSR was the place for them.
Microsoft Research is so lucky that Nancy, Kate, and Mary are coming to MSR. And I’m super lucky that I’m going to have three more awesome colleagues. ::bounce::
I have a real problem with research which is aimed to manipulate people (I know it happens all over the place and technology is not any different). However, all of these social media scholars are finding ways to understand phenomena so they can manipulate it for profit (like marketers). It is sad and depressing but should we just not own up to it and forget about academia for its scholarly applications and give it all up to business? Congratulations Microsoft Research Group!