Hi! I’m Stuart, an ethnographer and post-doctoral scholar at the Berkeley Institute for Data Science at UC-Berkeley. What is an ethnographer? I’m a social scientist who uses many different methods to holistically study and analyze culture, while trying to uphold two goals: 1) to do research while embedded in the social worlds I study, and 2) to understand the worldviews and perspectives of the people I study. I call myself an ethnographer of computation and a computational ethnographer, because I study people as they build, support, interact with, and relate to computational systems, as well as use computational (and other) methods in my own work.
I focus on the infrastructures and institutions that support the production of information and knowledge. Most of my previous work has been on Wikipedia, where I’ve spent almost a decade researching the community of volunteer editors who produce and maintain an open encyclopedia. I’ve also researched distributed scientific research networks and projects, including the Long-Term Ecological Research Network and the Open Science Grid. In Wikipedia and scientific research, I study topics including newcomer socialization, cooperation and conflict, community governance, specialization and professionalization, hackathons and community workshops, quality control and verification, the roles of support staff and technicians, and diversity and inclusion. As these communities are made possible through software systems, I’m very interested in how the design of software tools and systems intersect with all of these issues.
I received my Ph.D from the UC-Berkeley School of Information, my M.A. from the Communication, Culture, and Technology program at Georgetown University, and my B.A. in the Humanities program at the University of Texas at Austin. I’m a disciplinary nomad, integrating disciplines like computer science, information science, social psychology, and organization/management science with fields like philosophy, sociology, anthropology, and history of science and technology. In terms of academic specialties, I spend a lot of my time in the fields of Science and Technology Studies, Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, and new media / Internet studies. Methodologically, while I am trained as a qualitative ethnographer, I also rely on other qualitative, quantitative, and experimental methods. I often use more statistical forms of analysis to contextualize and further support more qualitative approaches, frequently collaborating with people from other disciplines.