Some of the research areas I've worked on:

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Competence and Participation in Online Collective Action

In this project I examine the influence of information about competence on contributions in online social dilemmas. In any real world situation, individuals will vary in terms of their competence, where competence is defined as having sufficient knowledge or skills to act effectively in a given context. Once we challenge the assumption that all individuals are fully and equally competent, perceptions of competence become essential influences to behavior in social dilemma situations. Precisely how perceptions of competence figure into decisions to contribute or free-ride has largely been neglected as a topic of study, however. This is the main focus of the proposed research.

This multi-method study will examine the relationships between competence beliefs and contribution behavior using laboratory experiments and qualitative interviews. The experimental phase will address test several hypotheses about the influence of competence information, and also reveal the attitudes that mediate the relationship between competence information and contribution. Following the completion of the experiments, a series of twenty qualitative interviews will: (1) provide additional information about the fit between experimental results and individual experience in naturalistic settings; (2) reveal potential weaknesses in the original study design, and; (3) uncover avenues for further exploration. Just as importantly, interviews will allow a deeper exploration of perceptions and assumptions than controlled laboratory studies could permit.

Self-Interest and Pro-Social Behavior on MySpace Music
In this project we look for evidence of self-interest and pro-social behavior among musicians on MySpace Music. MySpace Music is a sub-section of MySpace that contains profiles and features designed specifically for musicians. As a part of a musician's career development, MySpace Music provides opportunities to realize significant monetary gains. Musicians can profit from increased attention and fan base, and monetizing the web traffic flowing to their MySpace profiles by placing ads and selling digital music downloads directly. In this environment, musicians may choose to maximize their own profits, or to make decisions that can benefit others, often at the expense of their own profits. To examine the dynamics of this type of behavior, we leverage evidence embedded in the social network generated by Top Friends links. These decisions, we argue, can reveal information about a musician's underlying preferences for acting in a self-interested or pro-social manner. In addition, we examine how behaviors and preferences may change along with the status or prominence of musicians, and whether musicians tend to behave in a consistent fashion.
Designing Social Psychological Incentives for Online Collective Action
The principal argument of this project concerns the translation of research on non-monetary incentives into the design of real-world information pools that exist on the internet. Specifically, we are concerned with incentives that motivate behavior through social psychological processes. To investigate these issues, we begin developing a methodology for applying social psychological incentives to targeted goals in online collective action systems. This methodology begins, as many do, with a framework for analysis - classifying, exploring, and understanding online collective action systems and their products is an essential first step to understanding incentives. Our analytic framework sorts existing online collective action systems into three classes and identifies four salient characteristics of the public goods generated by these systems. With these tools in hand, we draw on existing theory and empirical evidence to map each of these characteristics to classes of social psychological incentives. Finally, we demonstrate by example how incentive mechanisms can be designed into information pools for the purpose of targeting s pecific public good outcomes.

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Exchange Network Transitions: Uncertainty, Risk and Shifts in Mode of Exchange
In this NSF-funded research project, led by Coye Cheshire at the UC Berkeley iSchool and Karen Cook at the Stanford University Department of Sociology, we examine how trust, commitment, cohesion, and solidarity may differ along with modes of exchange. Though the manner in which exchange occurs (both online and offline) can vary significantly from reciprocal exchange, in which individuals exchange with no guarantee or expectation of a specific return, to negotiated exchange, in which individuals negotiate a one-way or two-way transaction, comparatively little is known about how individuals' perceptions differ between them. In particular, this study examines questions of how exchange behavior and perceptions around trust and reliability change when the mode of exchange is altered. We will examine both externally-imposed changes and changes of individuals' own choosing using a series of laboratory experiments conducted with the help of the UC Berkeley XLab.
The Mycroft Project
Mycroft is a system that allows customers to bring together the knowledge and experience of the millions of digitally connected people to complete large, complex tasks. By focusing on tasks that, despite advances in technology, continue to be easy for people but difficult for computers, Mycroft provides a platform for quickly and efficiently aggregating tiny increments of work into valuable knowledge and services. Mycroft allows our customers to tap a workforce that is millions strong, and to reward them for their efforts in a manner appropriate to the social context of their participation. Our focus on the human factor is what sets Mycroft apart: our system capitalizes on the context and motivations driving web communities, leveraging the existing advertising channels to capture attention without forcing participants to leave their current tasks. By bringing tasks out into the world, we can turn everyday activities into knowledge work. We don’t create knowledge, we just know where to find it.
Kids' Informal Learning with Digital Media
Our research team was recently funded by the Macarthur foundation to study the relationships between young people, digital media, and informal learning. Very little is known about how kids learn with new media, especially outside the classroom. Schools are no longer the lone gatekeepers of learning - in fact many have argued that kids learn some of the most important life skills outside of the classroom in informal, collaborative environments. The goal of this three year ethnographic study is to provide an insight into this new area, and especially to document kids worlds from their own perspectives. While design is not an explicit part of this study, gathering knowledge that will enable us to leverage the power of new media, both inside and outside of the classroom, is the ultimate goal of the project.

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Designing for Culturally Appropriate Development
In order to create successful and sustainable interventions it is necessary to situate technology in the physical, social, political, and cultural environment in which it exists. This paper will focus on the cultural portion of that equation. This research is grounded in the hypothesis that sustainable change is achieved when an intervention adapts itself to local culture, not when it expects local culture to adapt to the intervention. Drawing broadly on human development theory and the theory of cultural ecology , I suggest that balancing technological factors with cultural ones is necessary to ensure the sustainability of the changes that technological interventions such as kiosks propose . In order to foster a balanced, ecological approach, this research proposes a method and perspective to make information and communication technology (ICT) based interventions in general, and kiosk/telecenter projects in particular, more culturally appropriate. Using the Akshaya project in Kerala State, India as a case study, this project suggests a number of issues which are essential to addressing cultural appropriateness, and begin to build a body of best practices for designing successful, sustainable, and culturally appropriate kiosk programs.
Managing Information Overload with E-mail
As a continuing exploration of information behaviors in the context of everyday life, we are beginning research aimed at understanding individual meanings and coping strategies for information overload with regards to e-mail. Using the theoretical frameworks of the Social Construction of Technology and Activity Theory, we hope to understand the sociocultural frameworks which underlay people's choices with regards to e-mail and how they learn to manage information overload.
A Qualitative Study of Information Behavior
As a follow-up to Lyman and Varian's 2003 study 'How Much Information?' we conducted a qualitative photo-elicitation study in order to investigate how people make decisions about information quality and how they choose between types of information and communications mediums. While research and analysis are ongoing, results point to a variety of emergent practices and attitudes which are a result of the combination of an increasing variety of information choices and increasing information ubiquity. In particular our research has uncovered ways in which people adapt their sociocultural beliefs and behaviors in order to filter information, especially in interactions with technology. We have termed this new genre 'Information Filtering Behavior.' A prototypical example of such a behavior that need not involve technology (but often does) is the seeking out of a known 'domain expert' in order to provide high quality information. Our research has shown, for example, that blogs can serve this same purpose online. Significant findings also involve news seeking behaviors and the management of e-mail.
Empowerment Evaluation of 'Digital Divide' Related Programs
In 2003, under the direction of Dr. David Fetterman, I undertook the evaluation of a series of programs, sponsored by Hewlett Packard Philanthropy, aimed at 'Bridging the Digital Divide' in a low-income, marginalized community in a large city in the Eastern U.S. Using the Empowerment Evaluation model, the project aimed to refine program goals, transfer evaluation skills, and provide consultation and support for using ethnography advocacy evaluation to improve programs. Following the evaluation period, an analysis of both the Empowerment Evaluation methodology and ethnographic findings related to the program group and the 'Digital Divide' was conducted. A paper on this topic was published in the Spring 2005 issue of Practicing Anthropology.