As a researcher with the Computational Propaganda Project, I conducted a series of interviews with designers who build social automation tools called "bots." The Computational Propaganda project (ComProp) is based at the University of Oxford, and predominantly focuses on the use of bots for political manipulation in countries around the world. My interview series engaged artists and activists who build bots to better understand the creative capacity of automation—and it's potential for social commentary and critique. 

'Dolly Parton' Helps a Robot (Tim Baker,  the Press Democrat Archives , 1984)

'Dolly Parton' Helps a Robot (Tim Baker, the Press Democrat Archives, 1984)

What Is It Like to Be A Bot?

Read here on Data & Society's "Points." Written as part of Data & Society's workshop on Automation & Culture. 

How might suspending our suspicious stance towards automation help us think differently about the possibilities of bots? This public facing piece encourages designers to embrace the magic of bots, seeing features like combination and repetition as having the potential to transform information in surprising ways.  

At Data & Society's workshop, I also co-authored the widely circulated Motherboard bot-ifesto "How to Think About Bots" which was recently referenced in New York Times Magazine's "Not the Bots We Were Looking For."

The Bot Proxy

Read a pre-print PDF. Out now, in Z. Papacharissi's new edited volume "The Networked Self: Platforms, Stories, Connections."

This chapter explores bot making as a creative practice, allowing artists and activists to question the quiet functioning of everyday life. As proxies they mitigate the complexity of algorithms, the magnitude of data and the triviality of bureaucracy. Based on 40 interviews with bot-makers, we illuminate the expressive power of automation to respond to bias and ordinary injustice. 

In collaboration with Samuel Woolley (Institute for the Future) and Philip N. Howard (University of Oxford).


Automation, Big Data and Politics

Open Access PDF available here. The concluding research review for the International Journal of Communication's special issue on Automation, Algorithm and Politics. This broad survey was written for beginning graduate students, policy-makers and funders to introduce the wide variety of scholarship on critical big data in various realms of public life and identify domains in need of further study. 

We call for collaboration across disciplines and domains (government, industry, academia) to produce research that takes into account the actual practices and constraints of institutions that use big data—rather than merely to critique from ethical ideals.

Viral Video " Rayna Meets a Robot " (Screenshot, 2017)

Viral Video "Rayna Meets a Robot" (Screenshot, 2017)