Best Of Apophenia

I have been writing on this blog since I was 18 years old, over half of my life. During that period, lots of other venues for writing have emerged and I have written on them as well. You can find writing of mine at Medium, on LinkedIn, and in short form on Twitter. I have also written numerous papers and essays for other venues, and supported the development and publication of numerous works by brilliant people at Data & Society. But if you want to know where to start to get a sampling of my thinking, here’s a few pieces that I’d begin with:

  1. “Democracy’s Data Infrastructure” is an essay by Dan Bouk and I, where we go back in time to examine how algorithms affected democracy 100 years ago in order to talk about today’s challenges, all through the eye of the US census.
  2. “Fairness and Abstraction in Sociotechnical Systems” is an academic paper by Andrew Selbst, danah boyd, Sorelle Friedler, Suresh Venkatasubramanian, and Janet Vertesi attempts to conceptualize the challenges of pursuing fairness in algorithmic systems, using an STS lens to highlight the traps designers can fall into if they aren’t watching out.
  3. “Data Voids” is a Data & Society primer by Michael Golebiewski and I, where we describe how media manipulation intersects with algorithms at the heart of disinformation attacks.
  4. “The Fragmentation of Truth” was a talk I gave to examine the ecosystem of media manipulation in an algorithmic context. 
  5. “You Think You Want Media Literacy… Do You?” was a controversial talk I gave highlighting how media literacy is not the solution to disinformation. 
  6. “I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately” is the paper Alice Marwick and I wrote to conceptualize the notion of “context collapse,” thinking about how social media users struggle to manage different audiences. 
  7. “It’s Complicated” is the PDF of my book where you can get a sense of my thinking on teen culture and social media. (You can also buy the book.)

This is just a small sampling of my work, much of which was written in collaboration with others. But I promise you there’s a lot more on topics ranging from privacy to youth culture to census to visualization to AI. I hope you dive in and enjoy! 

PS: If you think that a particular entry should be listed here, please let me know!

Best of Early Apophenia

Throughout the 2000s, i wrote numerous posts about social media, social software, social networks and other industry-relevant topics. Colleagues often remark that it is difficult to sift through my personal blog to find relevant material. Back in 2010, i decided to put together a “best of” to highlight the essays written in the aughts that were most interesting to readers interested in social media. I added a few media clips in 2011, but I did not update this in the 2010s so this stands as a record of the past – older essays and blog posts that deal with particular issues in depth. 

Youth Culture and Mediated Practices

Social Network Sites – from Friendster to Twitter

(Note: full list of others’ research on SNSs here)


Mobile and Communication Technologies

Design, Web2.0 and Social Software

Information Organization, Access and Wikipedia

Privacy, Copyright and Structures

Academia and Industry

Culture, Society, and Politics



Relevant Academic Papers (full list)

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