What am I up to?

Core Philosophy

I approach three areas of study, i.e., technical communication, social media, and science communication, through the lens of writing. My research reframes users as writers, thereby stressing the composing practices of digital communicators (for example, professional journalists, aspirational influencers, and everyday social media writers). This perspective allows me to apply writing theory to digital artifacts and computational processes.

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Research Interests

  • User experience and information design
  • Social media interactions, chiefly how writers respond to their audiences
  • Algorithms, from cultural and technical perspectives
  • Computational methods, including web-scraping, data structuring, and web development
  • Machine learning, specifically how machine learning scientists write and the genres they employ
  • Science Communication, including engineering writing and the communication processes of research labs. Specifically, I am interested in how scientists disseminate their research online.
  • Writing across the Curriculum

Applications of Research

  • Creating and improving social media followings
  • Designing more civil and relevant online interactions (via comments)
  • Improving feedback on writing using automated processes
  • Better online interfaces
  • Identifying strategies for improving online discussions
  • Designing pedagogical assignments for science writing

Current Projects

Interested in working with me? Current and future plans include:

  • (current) monograph on digital case study methodology
  • (current) monograph about how written communication practices change with the emergence of machine learning and artificial intelligence.
  • (current) an article on algorithmic folklore with one of my fabulous graduate students
  • (current) an article about the lifecycle of a writing assignment as it is handed down between faculty
  • (current) Refining a database of 14 million comments from the NYT for widespread dissemination (prototype here: http://consider-comments.herokuapp.com/)
  • (future) a study of how authors inculcate followings as they embark on online book tours.
  • And, of course, some surprises…

Hobbies

I always encourage people to develop interests valuable to them. In addition to taking care of my children, I skateboard, swim, weightlift, write fantasy novels, read comics, and garden. I am good at cooking too. I aim to one day write an ethnography of skateboard culture.

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign