Category Archives: academic

Postdoctoral Researchers, Microsoft Research

If you’re graduating with a PhD from a computer science program, applying to be a researcher or postdoc at Microsoft Research might seem obvious. But what I’ve learned is that few students in nearby departments are even aware that we hire postdocs and researchers who didn’t graduate from CS programs. We do! At Microsoft Research New England, we are especially interested in attracting postdocs from the social sciences, economics, communications, information schools, etc. This may be true in other labs as well so I wanted to post a general call for those who might not think of Microsoft Research as a place to apply.

Microsoft Research is seeking applicants for postdoctoral researchers. Microsoft Research provides a vibrant research environment with an open publications policy and with close links to top academic institutions across the United States, Europe, and Asia. Postdoc researcher positions provide an opportunity to develop your research career and to interact with some of the top minds in the research community, with the potential to have your research realized in products and services that will be used worldwide. Postdoc researchers are invited to define their own research agenda and demonstrate their ability to drive forward an effective program of research. Successful candidates will have a Ph.D. and 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.

Postdoc researchers receive a competitive salary and benefits package, and are eligible for relocation expenses. Postdoc researchers are hired for a one or two year fixed term appointment. Successful Postdoc researchers may be invited to apply for permanent positions if available towards the end of fixed term period. Postdoc positions are typically hired on the academic school calendar. For most positions, there is no deadline, but candidates are strongly encouraged to apply by December for the following fall.

Qualifications include a strong academic record in anthropology, communications, computer science, economics, information science, sociology, or related fields. Applicants must have completed the requirements for a PhD, including submission of their thesis, prior to joining Microsoft Research.

NOTE: Microsoft Research New England is especially looking for postdoc researchers working in areas related to social media and social networks, particularly from a social science perspective. Those interested in such a postdoc should be certain to apply by December 15, 2009 and indicate “Social Computing” as an area of interest and “New England, U.S.” as a desired location. Candidates involved in social media are also encouraged to indicate “danah boyd” as their Microsoft Research Contact.

Qualified candidates should submit their applications online:

Applicants are welcome to apply for positions in multiple labs. Applicants are encouraged to specify areas of research in which they are most interested and specific researchers with whom they would like to work. To explore current researchers at Microsoft Research, see:

Current PhD students are also encouraged to explore internship opportunities. To learn more about or apply for an internship, see: (Note: MSR New England only takes on advanced PhD students as interns but other labs accept junior PhD students.)

Bernie Hogan: “Networking in Everyday Life”

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!!

“From MySpace to Hip Hop: New Media In the Everyday Lives of Youth” public forum

For the last three years, I’ve been a part of a digital youth research team. This team is funded by the MacArthur Foundation and consists of scholars at both Berkeley and USC (PIs: Peter Lyman, Mimi Ito, Michael Carter, Barrie Thorne). We’ve been doing large-scale ethnographic studies of U.S. youth, collectively examining different aspects of their lives. The project is almost over and we’re all in the process of writing up our findings. We’ve decided to put together a big public forum event in the Bay Area both to celebrate and showcase what we have found. This event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required because of limited space. Register! Come!


From MySpace to Hip Hop: New Media In the Everyday Lives of Youth

What: A public forum on how digital technologies and new media are changing the way that young people learn, play, socialize and participate in civic life.

When: Wednesday April 23rd, 2008
Registration: 4.30pm
Panel Discussion: 5-7PM
Reception: 7.30-8.15PM

Where: Hewlett Teaching Center, Building 200, Stanford University, 370 Serra Mall

Register at CommonSense Media. Registration is free, open to the public, but the space is limited. Registration closes April 18th or when the space is full.

Registration Presentations:

  • danah boyd – “Teen Socialization Practices in Networked Publics”
  • Heather Horst – “Understanding New Media in the Home”
  • Dilan Mahendran – “Hip Hop Music and Meaning in the Digital Age”
  • Mimi Ito – “New Media From A Youth Perspective”

(More program information here)

Register Now at Common Sense Media or call the reservation line at 1-415-553-6735

If you can not attend this event in person, we will also be streaming it live to the web.

curing the ills of sociology

I was reading some background bits on Erving Goffman when I came across this passage, commenting on the state of sociology. Having sat through painful discussions of “what is an information school?” and been grilled about my own disciplinary affiliations, I read this and burst out laughing. I always love reading scholars’ takes on disciplinary squabbles, especially when they can step back and see the absurdity in it all. I figured the academics who read my blog might get a kick out of this too.

“I have no universal cure for the ills of sociology. A multitude of myopias limit the glimpse we get of our subject matter. To define one source of blindness and bias as central is engagingly optimistic. Whatever our substantive focus and whatever our methodological persuasion, all we can do I believe is to keep faith with the spirit of natural science, and lurch along, seriously kidding ourselves that our rut has a forward direction. We have not been given the credence and weight that economists lately have acquired, but we can almost match them when it comes to the failure of rigorously calculated predictions. Certainly our systematic theories are every bit as vacuous as theirs: we manage to ignore almost as many critical variables as they do. We do not have the esprit that anthropologists have, but our subject matter at least has not been obliterated by the spread of the world economy. So we have an undiminished opportunity to overlook the relevant facts with our very own eyes. We can’t get graduate students who score as high as those who go into Psychology, and at its best the training the latter get seems more professional and more thorough than what we provide. So we haven’t managed to produce in our students the high level of trained incompetence that psychologists have achieved in theirs, although, God knows, we’re working on it.”

— Erving Goffman in “The Interaction Order” (1983) reproduced in The Goffman Reader (p. xvii)

Where HCI comes from (and where it might go)

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about HCI (human-computer interaction) and my relationship to that field. I’ve been kinda frustrated with HCI. The name HCI implies that the field is about people’s relationship with machines and the interaction paradigms and designs that enable more efficient or enjoyable connections between the two. Many argue that this is the crux of my research. I’ve been resistant to this because I believe that I study human-human interaction that happens to have a mediated component to it.

This week, a new book appeared in my mailbox: HCI Remixed: Reflections on Works That Have Influenced the HCI Community (eds. Thomas Erickson and David McDonald). This book helped remind me that human-human interaction was part of HCI, even if the field seems not to emphasize that these days.

This book gave me all sorts of smiles. First, I’m a sucker for books of essays where I know half of the authors and drool with respect over the other half. Second, I love books that trace histories that I read long ago while offering fresh perspective and new contextualization. Third, I like books that challenge me to rethink my position on something. Through the perspective of contemporary HCI scholars, this book examines some of the core literature that is at the foundation of HCI and reflects on its relevance today. In walking down this memory lane, I was reminded of the many facets of HCI. There’s the HCI that’s about interfaces. There’s the HCI that’s about development processes, foundational to contemporary industry practice. There’s the HCI that’s about taking computation into the wild while also making it ubiquitous or invisible. There’s the HCI that’s about supporting collaboration and groups. All of these HCIs are in the history of HCI and it’s fun to read these eminent and emergent scholars reflect on the work done in all of these areas. This book made me long for the days when I felt like HCI was my home because it highlights a history that is still relevant to me. (Of course, some of what they discuss – Everett Rogers and Jane Jacobs, for example – goes beyond HCI.)

While this book has unbelievable breadth, my frustration with contemporary HCI often stems from my feeling that it has narrowed its focus over the years. While experimental psychology has been fully embraced by the field, many HCI scholars reject qualitative social science as irrelevant to HCI. There are plenty who embrace it, but the experimental psych approach dominates the conversations and work that does not follow the normative formula tends to not get published. Personally, I’m wary of most publications that make broad claims based on user studies with n=6 CS grad students. (While there are sound reasons for this methodology in certain subfields of psych, most of how it gets executed in HCI scholarship makes my toes curl.) As HCI tries to become a field in its own right, I feel increasingly alienated by it. I stopped going to CHI a few years ago because it no longer felt like my home (and the cost was way prohibitive). I stopped reviewing this year because I felt as though my criticisms were with the methodological approach of the field and thus I was doing a disservice to CHI.

Yet, HCI and its sister CSCW really were the beginnings of thinking about how people communicate in computer-mediated environments and it’s nice to see that history recounted. It’s nice to be reminded that qualitative work really was valued. Much of that seems to have been forgotten in an era of scholarship that requires user tests and design implications to be considered valid. What happened to work that focused on the interaction between humans and computers in the wild? Personally, I love work that analyzes how mega collective action by inhabitants of a system result in behaviors never predicted by the designers. This, unfortunately, doesn’t fit neatly into the build/test/explain cycle that dominates the field; thus, it tends to get published elsewhere. I hear things are changing and HCI is evolving in new ways, especially now that iSchools are starting to engage with the topic. Perhaps this book will remind more folks where HCI came from and open new doors for where it might go.

open-access is the future: boycott locked-down academic journals

On one hand, I’m excited to announce that my article “Facebook’s Privacy Trainwreck: Exposure, Invasion, and Social Convergence” has been published in Convergence 14(1) (special issue edited by Henry Jenkins and Mark Deuze). On the other hand, I’m deeply depressed because I know that most of you will never read it. It is not because you aren’t interested (although many of you might not be), but because Sage is one of those archaic academic publishers who had decided to lock down its authors and their content behind heavy iron walls. Even if you read an early draft of my article in essay form, you’ll probably never get to read the cleaned up version. Nor will you get to see the cool articles on alternate reality gaming, crowd-sourcing, convergent mobile media, and video game modding that are also in this issue. That’s super depressing. I agreed to publish my piece at Sage for complicated reasons, but…

I vow that this is the last article that I will publish to which the public cannot get access. I am boycotting locked-down journals and I’d like to ask other academics to do the same.

For those outside of the academy, here’s a simplistic account of academic publishing. Academics publish articles in journals. Journals are valued by academic disciplines based on their perceived quality. To be successful (and achieve tenure), academics must publish in the journals that are valued in their discipline. Journals are published by academic publishers. Academics volunteer their time to peer review articles in these journals. Editors consider the reviews and decide which are to be published, which should be sent back to be revised and resubmitted, and which are to be rejected. For the most part, editors are unpaid volunteers (although some do get a stipend). Depending on the journal, the article is then sent to a professional copyeditor who is paid (but not all journals have copyeditors). Academic publishers then print the journal, sending it to all of its subscribers. Most subscribers are university libraries, but some individuals also subscribe. (To give you a sense of the economics, Convergence costs individuals $112 and institutions $515 for 4 issues a year.) Academic libraries also subscribe to the online version of the journals, but I don’t know how much that costs. Those who don’t have access to an academic library can pay to access these articles (a single article in Convergence can be purchased DRM-ified for one day at $15).

The economy around academic journals is crumbling. Libraries are running out of space to put the physical copies and money to subscribe to journals that are read by few so they make hard choices. Most academics cannot afford to buy the journal articles, either in print or as single copies so they rely on library access. The underground economy of articles is making another dent into the picture as scholars swap articles on the black market. “I’ll give you Jenkins if you give me Ito.” No one else is buying the journals because they are god-awful expensive and no one outside of a niche market knows what’s in them. To cope, most academic publishers are going psycho conservative. Digital copies of the articles have intense DRM protection, often with expiration dates and restrictions on saving/copying/printing. Authors must sign contracts vowing not to put the articles or even drafts online. (Sage embargoes all articles, allowing authors to post pre-prints on their site one year following publication, but not before.) Academic publishers try to restrict you from making copies for colleagues, let alone for classroom use.

I should probably be sympathetic to academic publishers. They are getting their lunch eaten and the lack of consistent revenue from journals makes it much harder for them to risk publishing academic books and they are panicked. Yet, frankly, I’m not humored. Producing a journal article is a lot of labor for scholars too. Editing a journal is a lot of labor for scholars too. In most cases, they do this for free. Academic publishers expect authors to do both for free because that’s how they achieve status. At the same time, they are for-profit entities that profit off of all of the free labor by academics. Some might argue that academics are paid by universities and this external labor is part of their university job. Perhaps, but then why should others be profiting off of it? Why not instead publish with open-access online-only journals produced as labors of love by communities of volunteer scholars (i.e. many open-access journals)? Oh, right. Because those aren’t the “respectable” journals because they don’t have a reputation or a history (of capitalizing off of the labor of academics). The result? Academics are publishing to increasingly narrow audiences who will never read their material purely so that they can get the right credentials to keep their job. This is downright asinine. If scholars are publishing for audiences of zero, no wonder no one respects them.

I think that this needs to change. The traditional model of journal publishing makes sense in an era where the only mechanism of distribution was paper. Paper publishing and distribution is expensive, and I’m not trying to dismiss this. Yet, in a digital era, the structures of publishing and distribution have changed; the costs have changed too. Open-access, online-only journals have four key costs: bandwidth, copyediting, marketing, and staffing costs. The latter is often irrelevant in fields where editors volunteer. It’s not clear that marketing is necessary or cannot be done for free. There are all sorts of possible funding models for bandwidth. This leaves copyediting.

I’d be sad to see some of the academic publishers go, but if they can’t evolve to figure out new market options, I have no interest in supporting their silencing practices. I think that scholars have a responsibility to make their work available as a public good. I believe that scholars should be valued for publishing influential material that can be consumed by anyone who might find it relevant to their interests. I believe that the product of our labor should be a public good. I do not believe that scholars should be encouraged to follow stupid rules for the sake of maintaining norms. Given that we do the bulk of the labor behind journals, I think that we can do it without academic publishers (provided that we can find hosting and copyediting).

Here’s what I’d like to propose:

  • Tenured Faculty and Industry Scholars: Publish only in open-access journals. Unlike younger scholars, you don’t need the status markers because you’re tenured or in industry. Use that privilege to help build new journals that are not strapped to broken business models. Help build the reputations of new endeavors so that they can be viable publishing venues for future scholars. Publish in open-access journals, build a personal webpage and add your article there. You will get much more visibility, especially from younger scholars who turn to Google before they go to the library. I understand that a lot of you prefer to flout the rules of these journals and publish your articles on your website anyhow, even when you’re not allowed. The problem is that you’re not helping change the system for future generations.
  • Disciplinary associations: Help open-access journals gain traction. Encourage your members to publish in them. Run competitions for best open-access publications and have senior scholars write committee letters for younger scholars whose articles are stupendous but published in non-traditional venues.
  • Tenure committees: Recognize alternate venues and help the universities follow. Younger scholars can’t afford to publish in alternate venues until you begin recognizing the value of these publications. Help that process along and encourage your schools to do the same.
  • Young punk scholars: Publish only in open-access journals in protest, especially if you’re in a new field. This may cost you advancement or tenure, but you know it’s the right thing to do. If you’re an interdisciplinary scholar or in a new field, there aren’t “respected” journals in your space and so you’re going to have to defend yourself anyhow. You might as well use this opportunity to make the valued journals the open-access ones.
  • More conservative young scholars: publish what you need to get tenure and then stop publishing in closed venues immediately upon acquiring tenure. I understand why you feel the need to follow the rules. This is fine, but make a point by stopping this practice the moment you don’t need it.
  • All scholars: Go out of your way to cite articles from open-access journals. One of the best ways for a journal to build its reputation is for its articles to be cited broadly. Read open-access journals and cite them. Oh, and while you’re at it, if you have a choice between citing a living author and a dead one, support the living one. The young scholar at Santa Cruz who’s extending Durkheim’s argument needs the cite more than Durkheim. Don’t forget that citations have politics and you can vote for the future with your choice of citations.
  • All scholars: Start reviewing for open-access journals. Help make them respected. Guest edit to increase the quality. Build their reputations through your involvement. Make these your priority so that the closed journals are the ones struggling to get quality reviewers.
  • Libraries: Begin subscribing to open-access journals and adding them to your catalogue. Many of you do this, but not all. Open-access journals are free. Adding them to databases does costs money but it helps scholarship and will help you ween off of expensive journals in the long run.
  • Universities: Support your faculty in creating open-access journals on your domains. You are respected institutions. The bandwidth cost of hosting a journal would be much less than allowing your undergrads access YouTube. Support your faculty in creating university-branded journals and work with them to run conferences and do other activities to help build the reputation of such nascent publications. If it goes well, your brand will gain status too.
  • Academic publishers: Wake up or get out. Silencing the voices of academics is unacceptable. You’re not helping scholarship or scholars. Find a new business model or leave the journal publishing world. You may be making money now, but your profits will not continue to grow using this current approach. Furthermore, I’d bank on academics shunning you within two generations. If you think more than a quarter ahead, you know that it’s the right thing to do for business as well as for the future of knowledge.
  • Funding agencies: Require your grantees to publish in open-access journals or make a pre-print version available at a centralized source specific to their field. Many academic journals have exceptions for when funding agencies demand transparency. You can help your grantees and the academic world at large by backing their need to publish in an accessible manner. Furthermore, you could fund the publishing of special issues in return for them being open-access or help offset a publisher’s costs for a journal so that they can try to go open-access. (Tx Alex)

Making systemic change like this is hard and it will require every invested party to stand up for what they know is right and chip away at the old system. I don’t have tenure (and at this rate, no one will ever let me). I am a young punk scholar and I strongly believe that we have a responsibility to stand up for what’s right. Open-access is right. Heavy metal gates and expensive gatekeepers isn’t. It’s time for change to happen! To all of the academics out there, I beg you to help me make this change reality. Let’s stop being silenced by academic publishers.

[Why I published with a locked-down journal]

Update on Feb 8: I’m not the only advocate for open-access, nor do I think that all scholars can boycott this form of publishing, but I do think that everyone can take steps to change the future of scholarship for the benefit of everyone. I strongly believe that those who will benefit the most from open-access publishing will be the academics who pour their heart and soul into their research and writing. My apologies to those who think that I am being condescending towards academics; this is not my intention. I just think that we’ve become too complacent and are perpetuating a system that hurts ourselves while allowing others to profit off of keeping us quiet and invisible.

When it comes to the trafficking of scholarship, much has changed since the journal system was created. There used to be a day when scholars would read everything new that was published in their field, or at least everything published in the top journals. The path to success was to publish in the top journals because it was assumed that everyone in the field would read it. For most fields, this is no longer the case. Young scholars are not indoctrinated into a field by reading every issue of the top journals. They are more likely to search for articles related to their topics of interest than to browse a few top journals. Being present in library catalogues and key databases is critical to visibility. Publishing in the top journals still increases one’s likelihood of visibility and citation, but it’s more about status now.

Technology changes the status quo. Thanks to increased search, scholars have an easier time finding material relevant to their needs, provided that it is catalogued. Through the cataloguing of citations, it’s easier to follow the web of article networks. While we’re not entirely there, the options for visibility have changed. This is especially true for interdisciplinary scholars who don’t have a home set of journals. The flow of their scholarship looks very different than the flow of traditional fields with a hierarchy of publishing venues. While innovations in search change the information landscape, access is the missing component. And frankly, I think we’re moving backwards on this one.

I love academic scholarship; my frustration with academic publishing has to do with equality, access, and the meaning of a public good. One of my critics is correct – this is about transparency and making certain that those who want to engage with scholarship can. I don’t think that academics should necessarily be writing for public audiences, but I do think that their work should be publicly accessible.

One of the reasons that I push for open-access journals instead of just letting people put pre-prints online (the publicly accessibly alternative) is because open-access journals are catalogued and search-friendly. It’s a lot easier to find articles in open-access than it is to find them scattered across the web. I know there databases that allow people to add their pre-prints, but this is not done automatically and that’s why I think that it’s less ideal.

There’s a lot to be said about top journals. They are published regularly. They are more likely to attract top reviewers and top editors who are careful about what goes into the journal. They have a higher rate of submission, allowing them to be picky. They are more likely to be catalogued by libraries. They infer status at every level and they make it a lot easier to assess the claims made by the scholars. I think that all of this is important and I understand why lots of scholars want to stand by this system. But, I strongly believe that we can have top journals without restraining ourselves to locked-down publication models. I don’t think that the two have to go hand-in-hand, but I do acknowledge that moving towards a new system without the support of the traditional academic publishers who profit off of the locked-down model will be extremely bumpy. When I submitted the article that prompted this post, I thought that I could convince Sage that this was the right thing to do. I couldn’t. It would be soooo much easier with the help of publishers and part of me still hopes that they’ll see the light, but I came to the frustrating conclusion that this is unlikely and that the only path is to route around them. I’m reminded of John Gilmore’s quote: “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” I see locked-down journals as a form of censorship.

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe academic publishers will lead the media industry into a new era. Maybe they’ll realize that their business model is outdated and develop new ones. Maybe they’ll change their publishing and distribution strategy so as to make open-access viable (especially given that the libraries would love to move away from physical journals and pay-per-print is viable for those who want a bound version). This would make me ecstatic and I would happily volunteer to review for any traditional publisher who decides to go open-access. But I can’t stand by and watch another generation of scholarship get locked down. It simply isn’t right.

In light of the increased attention this entry has received and some of the confusion people had with what I said, I modified some of the content of this post. I did not edit out the things that people took offense to so that this would stay on public record.

For those interested in pursuing this topic, please read Peter Suber’s Six things that researchers need to know about open access. This includes a fantastic collection of links on open-access alternatives. For those of you in the natural sciences, be proud: the The Public Library of Science is a great open-access resource filled with great scholarship.

Suzanne Briet: madame documentation and librarian extraordinaire

This entry goes out to all of the librarians and information school students who read this blog.

One of the best parts of being in an information school is that you get to learn all sorts of things about people who loved information long before there was an economy for it. One of the professors in my school – Michael Buckland – always astonishes me with stories about great information gods and goddesses, many of whom never got credit for their work. His latest book Emanuel Goldberg and His Knowledge Machine tracks the story of a Jewish inventor who escaped Germany only to have many of his inventions stolen by Americans. Think Vannevar Bush invented the Memex? Think again.

Buckland piqued my interest with another story of brilliant librarian who ignored and forgotten: Suzanne Briet. A feminist, rabble rouser, and historian, Briet was one of the first behind the documentalist movement during the interim period.

“Briet argued that documentalists should be embedded in the cultural contexts of the users that they serve. From this vantage point documentalists can not only retrieve documents, but prospect for information not yet asked for, translate information from other languages, abstract and index documents, and in general, proactively work within the dynamics of the advancement of knowledge in a field.(Day)

Sounds like Google, no?

“Briet’s writings stressed the importance of cultural forms and social situations and networks in creating and responding to information needs, rather than seeing information needs as inner psychological events.” (Day)

Her writings continue on to anticipate actor-network theory (an approach popular in information schools). She challenged positivist and quantitative notions of “information”, attributing a cultural origin and function to documentation and documentary signs (“What is Documentation?”).

Brilliant as she was, she was ignored and forgotten. Only one librarian attended her funeral. Most of her writings were ignored and never translated. Even today, few information scholars know about her and fewer teach her contributions. She doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry!

In an attempt to make her work more accessible, Ronald Day, Laurent Martinet, and Hermina Anghelescu have translated her work “What is Documentation?” into English and PDFified it for free download. Together with Buckland, they have also put together a website dedicated to her. Their hope is that more information scholars will learn of her and understand the historical context of documentation culture. Personally, I’m intrigued to learn that a brilliant feminist scholar was so visionary yet so forgotten.

Dearest librarians and fellow information students, Michael Buckland, the rescuer of forgotten librarians, is curious what it will take to truly resuscitate her memory? We live in a world of records and information, yet we often forget the explorers and founders (especially if they were women, people of color, gay, or non-Christian). How do we revive the stories of those whose contributions were ignored?

Santa meets the IRB

Since I love the IRB sooooo much, it’s not surprising that everyone I know forwarded this message along to me over the holiday season. For all of you out there who dream of writing IRB proposals, this is for you:

Dr. K. Kringle, Adjunct Professor of Child Psychology Far Northern University

Dear Dr. Kringle:

At the regularly scheduled December 24 meeting, the IRB reviewed your protocol, “A Global Observational Study of Behavior in Children.” While we believe it has many good features, it could not be approved as submitted. If you choose to revise your study, please address the following concerns:

1. You propose to study “children of all ages”. Please provide an exact lower and upper age limit, as well as the precise number of subjects. Provide a statistically valid power calculation to justify this large of a study.

2. Your only inclusion criterion is “belief in Santa Claus.” Please provide a copy of the screening questionnaire that determines such a belief. Provide a Waiver of Authorization under HIPAA in order to record these beliefs prior to enrollment in your study. The Board recommends that you obtain a Certificate of Confidentiality as beliefs are sensitive and personal information.

3. You propose to “know when they are sleeping and know when they are awake”. How will this be done? Will children undergo video monitoring in their beds? Will they have sleep EEGs? You list 100 elves as research assistants. Are any of them a sleep physiologist?

4. Your primary outcome measure is to “know when they’ve been bad or good.” What standard is being used to determine ‘goodness’? Do children have to be good all year or just most of the time? What if they have been really, really, good except for one time when they hit their little brother?

5. You propose to conduct your research by entering the subjects’ homes through the chimney. Have you considered the damage to the roof, carpeting, etc., that this will cause? Moreover, children are likely to be startled by your appearance late at night. Please revise your protocol to conduct your home visits between 9 am and 5 pm Monday through Friday with at least one parent being present.

6. You state that compensation for participation will be “sugarplums, candy, and toys” for the good little girls and boys. This may not be appropriate for the children with obesity, dental caries, and hyperactivity. Also, your proposal to leave a lump of coal in the stockings of the bad children will be unfairly stigmatizing to them individually and as a group. In general, the Board suggests a small token of appreciation for all participants. Perhaps a $5 Toys-R-Us gift card would be better.

7. The database of good and bad children will be kept “on a scroll at the North Pole.” Please describe the security provisions you have in place to protect the research data. Is the scroll kept in a locked cabinet in a locked room? Who has access to the scroll? Are there backup copies of the scroll and how often are they compared to the original?

8. You mention the participation of “eight tiny reindeer” in your protocol. Please provide the Board with documentation of Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee approval.

9. Please provide the Human Subjects Protection training dates for Mrs. Claus and the elves.

10. As this study involves prospective data collection and is more than minimal risk without prospect of direct benefit to the subjects, informed consent signed by both parents will be required. Please have the consent form translated into every language spoken by children.

Please submit 25 copies of your revised protocol to the lRB. The IRB will be on Holiday Season schedule for the next two weeks. If approved, you will be able to conduct your study sometime in January.

E. Scrooge, MD – Chair, Institutional Review Board

Vodafone Receiver #18

I am happy to share that the folks at Vodafone Receiver decided to mashup some of my blog entries and my AAAS talk for their Issue #18. The piece, called Socializing digitally won’t be new to many of you, but i still find it exciting to see a morphed version of my writings. What’s even cooler is that it’s published alongside some work that i think is uber cool. The other pieces in this issue are:

My apologies for everyone for the sound on my piece. This is not my fault. And i agree that it sucks that you can’t turn it off. For those with a sound aversion, here’s a PDF version of my piece

NYC talk April 13 w/ Ethan Zuckerman and Trebor Scholz

I’m coming to New York next week to give a talk at the New School with Ethan Zuckerman and Trebor Scholz. If you’re in the area, come! It’s a public talk and it should be mighty fun.

Democratization and the Networked Public Sphere
* Panel Discussion with danah boyd, Trebor Scholz, and Ethan Zuckerman

Friday, April 13, 2007, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
The New School, Theresa Lang Community and Student Center
55 West 13th Street, 2nd floor
New York City
Admission: $8, free for all students, New School faculty, staff, and alumni with valid ID

This evening at the Vera List Center for Art & Politics will discuss the potential of sociable media such as weblogs and social networking sites to democratize society through emerging cultures of broad participation.

danah boyd will argue four points. 1) Networked publics are changing the way public life is organized. 2) Our understandings of public/private are being radically altered 3) Participation in public life is critical to the functioning of democracy. 4) We have destroyed youths’ access to unmediated public life. Why are we now destroying their access to mediated public life? What consequences does this have for democracy?

Trebor Scholz will present the paradox of affective immaterial labor. Content generated by networked publics was the main reason for the fact that the top ten sites on the World Wide Web accounted for most Internet traffic last year. Community is the commodity, worth billions. The very few get even richer building on the backs of the immaterial labor of very very many. Net publics comment, tag, rank, forward, read, subscribe, re-post, link, moderate, remix, share, collaborate, favorite, write. They flirt, work, play, chat, gossip, discuss, learn and by doing so they gain much: the pleasure of creation, knowledge, micro-fame, a “home,” friendships, and dates. They share their life experiences and archive their memories while context-providing businesses get value from their attention, time, and uploaded content. Scholz will argue against this naturalized “factory without walls” and will demand for net publics to control their own contributions.

Ethan Zuckerman will present his work on issues of media and the developing world, especially citizen media, and the technical, legal, speech, and digital divide issues that go alongside it. Starting out with a critique of cyberutopianism, Zuckerman will address citizen media and activism in developing nations, their potential for democratic change, the ways that governments (and sometimes corporations) are pushing back on their ability to democratize.