I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Information, of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences at Michigan State University. I also lead the Behavior, Information and Technology Lab (BITLab).
My research program is focused on understanding the effects of interdependence and feedback loops between human and algorithm behavior in socio-technical systems. A socio-technical system involves people, technology, and information; these parts all interact and influence each other, and without all three parts the system would not function as it should.
Lately, I have been working on how to measure systemic effects of the interaction between automated, personalized content filters like Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm and the cognitive and social mechanisms behind users’ content production and consumption behavior. For example, users’ own awareness and understanding of what the filters are doing could cause them adjust their behavior in ways the algorithm isn’t designed to handle properly, and this may have consequences for individual users and the system as a whole.
I am also working on how to help users manage the privacy social dilemma that arises when algorithms in ubiquitous computing systems make new inferences from the data they collect that help the system work better, but that users might not want to disclose. For example, data from internet-connected thermostats in many different households can be aggregated to calculate the ideal nighttime temperature in the winter for both comfort and energy savings; but, the same data might also be used to publicly shame people who are “wasting” energy by keeping their homes warmer at night.
My work is currently funded by NSF awards CNS-1115926, IIS-1217212 and CNS-1524296, and by an endowment to MSU from AT&T. Some keywords to describe my research interests are: algorithmic curation, personalization, automation, information privacy, derived data, ubiquitous computing, sociotechnical systems, user-contributed content, human computer interaction.
During Fall 2016 my office hours are by appointment.