Publications

Publication date: 2013

Organizing is such a common activity that we often do it without thinking much about it. In our daily lives we organize physical things--books on shelves, cutlery in kitchen drawers—and digital things--Web pages, MP3 files, scientific datasets. Millions of people create and browse Web sites, blog, tag, tweet, and upload and download content of all media types without thinking “I’m organizing...

Publication date: 2012

This dissertation analyzes Californians' information infrastructure after three Bay Area earthquakes: 1868 Hayward Fault Earthquake, 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, and 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. I use qualitative and historical research approaches, focusing on documents produced by state and local governments, newspapers and letters by Californians. In my analysis, I employ the...

Publication date: 2012

This dissertation analyzes the form, character, and variety of materials with which specific forms of value are produced and maintained in craft. Two craft sites provide the foundation for the work I present: a bookbinding workshop in Cambridge, UK and a knitting guild in San Francisco, CA. Participant observation and interviews allow for a detailed examination of craft practice. In binding,...

Publication date: 2012

We compare person-to-person service encounters with those in which the service provider is an information system to identify the capabilities needed to personalize a service encounter. We suggest “substituting information for interaction” as a principle that unifies these different types of encounters whenever the information needed to create value in a service system accumulates incrementally...

Publication date: 2012
Online labor marketplaces offer the potential to automate a variety of tasks too difficult for computers, but present requesters with significant difficulties in obtaining accurate results. We share experiences from building MobileWorks, a crowd platform that departs from the marketplace model to provide robust, high-quality results. Three architectural contributions yield measurably improved...
Publication date: 2012

The gap between who designers and developers imagine their users are, and who those users really are can be the biggest problem with product development. Observing the User Experience will help you bridge that gap to understand what your users want and need from your product, and whether they'll be able to use what you've created.

Filled with real-world experience and a...

Publication date: 2012

It went from the mouths of WWII servicemen to the typewriter of a young Norman Mailer. By the 1970s it had become a staple of Neil Simon plays and Woody Allen movies. In 2000, George W. Bush accidentally uttered it on a live mic and sparked a debate as to whether that made him a man of the people, or just an asshole. Ours is the age of assholism.

There may be no more assholes in the...

Publication date: 2012

This dissertation presents an ethnographic account of the launch of “The Downtown School for Design, Media, and Technology,” one of the most prominent American school reform projects in recent years. Drawing on popular accounts about children and young people’s pervasive affinity for digital media, and especially video games, the Downtown School’s progressive founders hoped to create a new...

Publication date: 2012

If there's one thing one can expect from developing countries–it’s the unexpected. From 2007-2010, I combined my skills as a software developer with ethnographic methods to observe the use of information technology in a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Southwest Uganda. This NGO subsidizes health facilities by paying for sexually transmitted infection treatment on the basis of...

Publication date: 2012

The urban youth frequenting the Internet cafés of Accra, Ghana, who are decidedly not members of their country's elite, use the Internet largely as a way to orchestrate encounters across distance and amass foreign ties--activities once limited to the wealthy, university-educated classes. The Internet, accessed on second-hand computers (castoffs from the United States and Europe), has become...

Publication date: 2012

This dissertation presents an empirical investigation of the role of mobile phones in Rwandan society and economy. The material draws on two summers of fieldwork in sub-Saharan Africa, several thousand interviews with mobile phone owners, and roughly ten terabytes of data on mobile phone use that was obtained from Rwanda's largest telecommunications operator.

I begin by analyzing the...

Publication date: 2011

Information is increasingly hailed as a tool to achieve good governance. This dissertation challenges claims that naturalize the relationship between information and good governance. I argue that such claims are based on the reification of information as a well-defined object with intrinsic value and have shifted focus away from the relations, materials and practices in which information is...

Publication date: 2011

This dissertation is concerned with two phenomena, race and computation, their emergence in modernity and their convergence today in our modern technological epoch. From the perspective of the traditional disciplines the concepts of race and computation are wholly incommensurable. Formally, race refers to a hierarchical taxonomic schema for classifying humans while computation refers to the...

Publication date: 2011

Many popular facets of live information, known collectively as communication technology, deliver ongoing, socially-relevant narrations of our world. Traditionally, different types of communication media were considered to be in competition, but recently they have been discovered to be complementary and synergistic. This paper will concentrate on the role, influence, and potential of the...

Publication date: 2011

The development and widespread use of Internet technologies and platforms that are grouped under the labels “Web 2.0” and “social media” have led to celebratory accounts of their potential as tools to unleash human creativity. A “creativity consensus” has emerged that describes a vision of creative production via these new platforms as universal, democratic, communal, non-commercial, and...

Publication date: 2011

Great By Choice

Why some companies thrive in uncertainty and others do not.

Based on nine years of research, buttressed by rigorous analysis and infused with engaging stories, Jim Collins and Morten Hansen enumerate the principles for building a truly great enterprise in unpredictable, tumultuous, and fast-moving times.

With a team of more than twenty researchers,...

Publication date: 2011

A succession of doctrines for enhancing cybersecurity has been advocated in the past, including prevention, risk management, and deterrence through accountability. None has proved effective. Proposals that are now being made view cybersecurity as a public good and adopt mechanisms inspired by those used for public health. This essay discusses the failings of previous doctrines and surveys the...

Publication date: 2011

While the turn from traditional regulation to more collaborative, experimentalist, and flexible forms of governance has garnered significant academic focus, far less attention has been paid to the effects of such “New Governance” approaches on regulated firms’ understanding of the laws’ demands, and on the structures employed within business organizations to meet them. This article targets...

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