Later this week, I’ll be presenting a paper at the Algorithms in Culture conference, organized by an astounding crew of veritable rock stars. I’m eagerly looking forward to it, both in terms of the the numerous fascinating sounding talks, and as a chance to get feedback on some of the questions through which I’m working around how fuse critical studies of algorithmic systems with human-computer interaction design.
I am thrilled to announce that I recently accepted a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor in the Computer Science & Engineering Department at Lehigh University. This position is part of a university-wide initiative called Data X. In my description, Data X acknowledges and incorporates the inherently interdisciplinary nature of data science. Lehigh made several cluster hires this past year as part of Data X, each with one faculty line in CSE and one in another department. For instance, I was part of a cluster hire between CSE and Journalism & Communication. Needless to say, this is an exceptionally perfect niche for me.
I’ll be winding down my position at Cornell and moving to Bethlehem, PA this fall, then starting at Lehigh in January.
Wyche, S.P. and Baumer, E.P.S. (2016). Imagined Facebook: An Exploratory Study of Non-Users’ Perceptions of Social Media in Rural Zambia. New Media & Society.
This article describes an exploratory study of Facebook non-users living in rural Zambia. Drawing on evidence from 37 group interviews with mobile phone owners, we discovered that the majority of our participants were aware of, or ‘imagined’ Facebook, despite never having seen or used the site. Our analysis of how participants perceive Facebook suggests that they are interested in the communication and income-generating possibilities access to the site may provide, but that barriers prevent them from acting on these interests. This study contributes to social media research by making visible the experiences of a population whose non-use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) results from economic, infrastructural, and linguistic sources, as well as from other, hitherto less-explored areas. We discuss the practical significance of these findings, offer future research suggestions, and comment on what our respondents have not yet imagined about Facebook.
Recently, I had two papers accepted for publication an the 2016 ACM Conference on Supporting Group Work (GROUP). One is a full length paper about a long-term study of a “data-as-art” installation at Cornell. The other is a note length paper essentially arguing that machine learning and grounded theory have some deep, compelling resonances. While I played a primarily supporting role on both these, I’m excited about the arguments that each is making (and appreciative of the lead authors for involving me).
Muller, M., Guha, S., Baumer, E.P.S., Mimno, D., and Shami, N.S. (2016). Machine Learning and Grounded Theory Method: Convergence, Divergence, and Combination. in Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Supporting Group Work (GROUP). (Sanibel Island, FL).
Grounded Theory Method (GTM) and Machine Learning (ML) are often considered to be quite different. In this note, we explore unexpected convergences between these methods. We propose new research directions that can further clarify the relationships between these methods, and that can use those relationships to strengthen our ability to describe our phenomena and develop stronger hybrid theories.
Scolere, L., Baumer, E.P.S., Reynolds, L., and Gay, G. (2016). Building Mood, Building Community: Usage Patterns of an Interactive Art Installation. in Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Supporting Group Work (GROUP). (Sanibel Island, FL).
To examine the processes by which appropriation happens around an interactive art installation in an organizational context, this paper presents a qualitative, longitudinal study of an interactive art installation called mood.cloud. While designed to collect and to visually display building occupants’ collective emotion, the installation was not necessarily used or interpreted in this way. Instead, building occupants saw the sensory experience of mood.cloud and the ability to change the display as a way to influence their own feelings, the feelings of others, and the overall workplace ambience. We found that interaction with mood.cloud fostered reflection about the relationship between the individual and the larger collective that the person is a part of. This relationship, between appropriation for individual benefit and appropriation for the benefit of others, afforded participants the opportunity to become more aware of their own contribution as part of a larger community. These findings suggest an opportunity to design systems around the interplay between appropriation for the individual and appropriation for the community.
Last week, my co-authors and I had a paper appear on factors that influence how likely someone who leaves Facebook is to return to site. The paper was published in the stellar new journal Social Media + Society. The term “stellar” is deliberate, as the journal’s editorial board basically reads like an all-star list of social media researchers.
Well, the paper has now been covered in a few media outlets. In addition to the official Information Science press release, stories have appeared in the Huffington Post, the International Business Times, IT News, and DNA India. I also was interviewed by local Ithaca radio station WHCU and Rochester TV station WHAM, and the latter interview is online.
It’s nice to see so much interest in the work, especially since I’ll be publishing lots more on this topic in the near future.
Baumer, E.P.S., Guha, S., Quan, E., Mimno, D., & Gay, G. (2015). How Non-use Experiences Influence the Likelihood of Social Media Reversion: Perceived Addiction, Boundary Negotiation, Subjective Mood, and Social Connections. Social Media + Society.
This article examines social media reversion, when a user intentionally ceases using a social media site but then later resumes use of the site. We analyze a convenience sample of survey data from people who volunteered to stay off Facebook for 99 days but, in some cases, returned before that time. We conduct three separate analyses to triangulate on the phenomenon of reversion: simple quantitative predictors of reversion, factor analysis of adjectives used by respondents to describe their experiences of not using Facebook, and statistical topic analysis of free-text responses. Significant factors predicting either increased or decreased likelihood of reversion include, among others, prior use of Facebook, experiences associated with perceived addiction, issues of social boundary negotiation such as privacy and surveillance, use of other social media, and friends’ reactions to non-use. These findings contribute to the growing literature on technology non-use by demonstrating how social media users negotiate, both with each other and with themselves, among types and degrees of use and non-use.
Baumer, E. P. S., Ames, M. G., Burrell, J., Brubaker, J. R., & Dourish, P. (2015). Why Study Technology Non-use? First Monday, 20(11).
This special issue provides an opportunity to rethink how we approach, study, and conceptualize human relationships with, and through, technology. The authors in this collection take a multiplicity of approaches on diverse topics to develop a rigorous theoretical understanding for non-use, setting crucial groundwork for future research.
This is a bit delayed (announcements went out a week or two ago via email, Twitter, etc.), but our special issue of First Monday about Technology Non-use has now been published. It’s been my great privilege over the past year to work with a fantastic team of co-editors and some truly brilliant contributing authors. If you have any interest in communication and technology, computing and society, or anything of the sort, I highly encourage you to check it out.