I’m looking for awesome grad students who think the internet rules. (Especially ISO ethics research!)

this image shows a flying nyan cat with the logo for the Internet Rules Lab, because obviously.

As you may know, I first heard about the internet in the back of a Babysitter’s Club book. It’s twenty-five years later, and I recently tongue-in-cheek described myself as “a professor of people doing awesome things on the internet.” And the best part of being a professor? Working with super amazing PhD students who will go on to bring even more awesomeness into the world.

The deadline for PhD applications for the Department of Information Science here at University of Colorado (in beautiful Boulder, land of the mountain selfies!) is December 1, and I am actively recruiting students who want to work with me. This means being part of the (newly named) Internet Rules Lab (IRL). We study rules on the internet, but also ways the internet rules! Here are some examples of questions from research projects that demonstrate this clever double entendre:

Rules on the internet!

  • We don’t have a lot of ethical guidelines around how we use content online! Especially for researchers! But also for journalists, remixers…
  • How do formal laws (like copyright!) impact how people behave in online communities?
  • How do communities govern themselves — like what about all those rules on the sidebars of subreddits?!
  • Wouldn’t it be awesome of the policies and designs of the websites we loved were actually built around the norms and values already baked into our communities? (i.e., way to go, AO3!)
  • How could we make Terms of Service suck less???

Ways the internet rules!

  • Fan creation communities are longstanding and often very positive spaces! What can we learn about successful online communities from them? And what’s it like to be a community that migrates with technology changes?
  • There’s so much cool informal learning happening online! Can we think about ways to broaden participation in computing by leveraging online creativity?
  • The internet is great at creating brand new communication mediums! What sorts of norms develop around things like GIFs?
  • Online communities have the opportunities to be inclusive, welcoming spaces! What can we learn from feminist design? How can we be inclusive for marginalized communities?

These are just a few things from recent and ongoing projects! Some other areas I’m working in that don’t fit cleanly into these categories are things like public perceptions of research, science fiction and ethics, and technology ethics education. Though in general, I would consider working with students who are interested in any flavor of online communities and/or governance/ethics research.

That said, I was recently fortunate enough to get an NSF grant to work with an awesome team on some really exciting work, specifically around social computing research ethics. So I am particularly hoping to find someone who is excited about doing some work in this area!

Wondering what it means to get a PhD in Information Science? Well, our department is a “lab” culture. This means that rather than PhD students mostly doing their own thing and consulting rarely with their advisor, instead there is constant collaboration with both faculty and students. PhD students here work as (funded) research assistants and occasionally teaching assistants. And our research is an interdisciplinary space that looks a bit like social science, a bit like computer science, a bit here and there… For example, one of my current students has a background in CS, and the other in English and sociolinguistics. We have both technologists and social scientists in our program, and hope that everyone will leave with at least a little bit of both. Our faculty are very strong in HCI, social and collaborative computing, data science, learning science, and more! The best way to get a sense for what our department is like is to check out our faculty and students.

Most students working with me would come in as an Information Science PhD student, though I can also advise students in Computer Science and ATLAS.

If you’re applying to PhD programs and might be interested in CU Boulder, feel free to drop me an email! I’m also always interested in working with students who are already here. And if you’re looking for undergraduate majors… look no further, all of the cool stuff in this post could be part of an information science BS as well!

TL;DR I’m recruiting PhD students. Consider passing this along!

More about me: website, twitter, picture of my dog, that one time I was famous for a week

More about our department: website, twitter, facebook, shiny magazine article, proof that we are serious about mountain selfies