Currently, I am working on a book about the technical culture of dial-up bulletin board systems (BBSs), tentatively titled The Modem World: A Prehistory of Social Media. In the 1980s, hobbyist BBSs provided an infrastructure for the emergence of online community and many of the practices that we value today originated in these low-cost systems. This research builds on my dissertation, Hobbyist inter-networking and the popular internet imaginary: Forgotten histories of networked personal computing, 1978-1998. Henry Jenkins was the committee chair along with François Bar and Alison Trope.
I am especially interested comparative histories that look beyond North America. Toward this end, Julien Mailland and I recently wrote a book about the technology, culture, and political-economy of Minitel during the 1980s and 1990s in France. Watch out for this book in June 2017 from The MIT Press.
I'm also working on a number of projects related to popular culture and political talk online with my former colleagues from USC including François Bar, Dayna Chatman, Lian Jian, Jieun Shin, and Kjerstin Thorson. Using a combination of macro-scale computational methods (thematic clustering, natural language processing) and micro-scale textual analysis, we have explored rumor diffusion and de-bunking, humor and live-tweeting during televised presidential debates, and the interrelationship of Black Twitter and Scandal fandom.
Photo credit: Mikael Kennedy, 2007
Screening of Reality at the University of Virginia French Film Festival
February 24, 2017
Command Lines: Software, Power and Performance, Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA
March 18-19, 2017
Home Computer Subcultures and Society Before the Internet Age, Zürich, Switzerland
March 24-25, 2017
Dial-up: A Grassroots History of Social Media, Spring Lecture Series 2017: The Making of the Digital World (organized by Anne Schenderlein and Elisabeth Engel), German Historical Institute, Washington, DC
April 20, 2017
International Communication Association Annual Conference, San Diego, CA
May 25-29, 2017