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Department of Anthropology
5 The Green
311A Eaton Hall
Medford, MA 02155
Scholarship & Research
In my new research, I am investigating the technocultural life of attention in the United States. Recently, attention and its technical mediations have become objects of great popular concern—filter bubbles, fake news, political distractions, and shortening attention spans are all blamed on technologies that have been designed to manipulate their users' attention. In this project, I look to see how the people building some of these systems understand attention themselves: how they navigate public concerns about their work, and how their engineering practices relate to ideas about what attention is. I am interested in how the many understandings of attention – as a currency, a capacity, a filter, a spotlight, a moral responsibility – come together in the design of computational systems aimed at quantifying, attracting, or paying attention. This project engages people working in machine learning, facial recognition, and online advertising, as well as the recent movement to "reclaim" attention from the software platforms that have tried to capture it.
2017. Algorithms as Culture: Some Tactics for the Ethnography of Algorithmic Systems. In "Algorithms in Culture," edited by Morgan Ames and Massimo Mazzotti, special issue, Big Data & Society.
2017. Arrival. In "Correspondences: Proficiency," edited by Andrés García Molina and Franziska Weidle. Cultural Anthropology website, June 27, 2017.
2017. Attending to the mediators. Review of The Passion for Music: A Sociology of Mediation, by Antoine Hennion. Journal of Cultural Economy 10(3): 309–323.
2015. The nice thing about context is that everyone has it. Media, Culture, and Society 37(7): 1101–1109.
2015. Bastard Algebra. In Data, Now Bigger & Better!, edited by Bill Maurer and Tom Boellstorff. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, 27–45.
2012. Algorithmic Recommendations and Synaptic Functions. Limn 2, "Crowds and Clouds." Edited by Christopher Kelty, Lilly Irani, and Nick Seaver.
2011. "This is Not a Copy": Mechanical Fidelity and the Re-enacting Piano. In "The Sense of Sound," edited by Rey Chow and James A. Steintrager, special issue, differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 22(2-3): 54–73.
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