Daniel S. Griffin

Daniel Griffin

PhD Student
Alumni (MIMS 2016)


I work to defamiliarize and reimagine web search.


I’m a Ph.D. candidate at the UC-Berkeley School of Information where I use interviews and digital ethnography to research conceptions of search engines, web search practices, and their entanglement with societal values. I study search counter-imaginaries: how we talk about, imagine, know, build, and practice different ways of searching.

As Noble (2018, p. 181-182) writes:

Indeed, we can and should imagine search with a variety of other possibilities. [ . . .] Such imaginings are helpful in an effort to denaturalize and reconceptualize how information could be provided to the public vis-à-vis the search engine. [emphases added]

Dissertation Research

My dissertation research looks at how data engineers think about and use web search in/at/for work. I have developed this into a case study of successful web searching, looking at how data engineers accomplish making web search work for them. I discuss:

how search expertise is distributed across and structured in work practices
how data engineers learn to search as data engineers
why web search is often kept private and done in isolation from others
how data engineers navigate the limitations of web search, describing the work of asking and answering questions among colleagues


I co-directed UC Berkeley’s Center for Technology, Society & Policy from July 2017 to August 2019. I finished the Master of Information Management and Systems (MIMS) program at the I School in 2016.

Prior to graduate school I was an intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army. As an undergraduate, I studied philosophy at Whitworth University. In my free time I enjoy trail running.

Last updated:

November 26, 2022