BA in French Teaching; PhD in Educational Technology; Associate Professor of ICT at University of Kentucky School of Information Science

I am an transdisciplinary digital methods researcher studying meaning-making practices on online platforms.

My CV is available here.

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📝 writeblog: spent 1:38:11 on 'publish data ethics in educational technology chapter'

Family is out of town this weekend, so I’m catching up with work, including going over the proofs for this long-in-the-making chapter.

Another set of proofs, another set of complaints about a copyeditor making changes to my writing in ways that distort my meaning. If I get grumpy about a human doing my writing for me, why would I ever want generative AI to do it?

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Publisher Wants $2,500 To Allow Academics To Post Their Own Manuscript To Their Own Repository | Techdirt'

I bristle a bit at Moody’s suggestion that academics are dumb for signing over copyright—it’s dumb that we have to, but there are systemic issues at play here. Yet, especially now with tenure taken care of, I do wonder if we consent too readily to the system. link to “Publisher Wants $2,500 To Allow Academics To Post Their Own Manuscript To Their Own Repository | Techdirt”

Novák, Orbán, and Ballard: the far right and Mormon boundary maintenance

Next month, I’m flying to Salt Lake City to attend the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion to present some of my work about social media, religion, and the far right. I’ll be presenting on three different projects at SSSR—this was biting off more than I could chew, but since two of them connect with Mormonism, Salt Lake suggested the possibility of a larger-than-usual audience for that work, so there you go.

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Leveling the technological playing field with Apple | UKNow'

Look, I’m glad my university is aware of and responding to the digital divide, but I’d appreciate a more critical treatment of what we’re doing. This sounds almost like ad copy for Apple, and it’s falling into a lot of tired edtech tropes about how technology must necessarily improve learning. link to “Leveling the technological playing field with Apple | UKNow”

📝 writeblog: spent 0:16:40 on 'publish Mormon conservatism on Gab study'

Squeezed in a few minutes of coding before meeting with a student.

📝 writeblog: spent 0:56:02 on 'publish UNHCR Instagram study'

I’ve recently been supporting a grad student with this study of messaging strategies on the UNHCR’s Instagram account. We’re meeting later this week, so I needed to get some coding done!

new publication: ClassDojo and student conflation of educational technologies

Last year, Daniela DiGiacomo, Sarah Barriage, and I published an article on student and principal perceptions of ClassDojo. Our findings weren’t entirely what we expected, even if they weren’t a huge surprise. In short, students and practitioners don’t always share the concerns about edtech platforms (like ClassDojo) that are gaining steam in the critical educational technology literature. I don’t say this to shame edtech users for not thinking the way that we ivory tower types do—rather, it speaks to a long-recognized tension between theoretical and conceptual concerns held by academics vs.

📝 writeblog: spent 1:16:16 on 'publish Mormon conservatism on Gab study'

I need to present on this in about a month at the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, so it’s time to hussle! I spent some time coding Gab posts according to a codebook I put together last week.

I don’t know if I’m pleased or disturbed by how often the classic British political sitcom “Yes, Minister” is relevant to my work in academia.

One of the Vice journalists currently reporting on the Tim Ballard allegations just followed my (now dormant) Twitter account, and I’m going to take that as validation of my research on far-right Mormonism.

It’s already indefensible that ClassDojo promises greater access to teachers for parents willing to pay, but these features also translate into letting richer parents put more pressure on teachers. This business model is awful.

Another paper, another fight with copyeditors about not capitalizing danah boyd’s name.

Journal copyeditors are great when they fix things, but when they break my sentences and don’t ask questions about “[information removed for blinding]”, I wonder what the point is.

Journal copyeditor changed a bunch of first-person language in our abstract to third-person “the authors,” and I am peeved.

Every copyright transfer I sign destroys another part of my soul.

College conversation about investment in GPT-type tech to support research is continuing. I think it’s… fitting that the survey being circulated is clearly using Qualtrics’s auto-suggested Likert responses—and that the responses aren’t quite right for the questions being asked.

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Dependence on Tech Caused ‘Staggering’ Education Inequality, U.N. Agency Says - The New York Times'

I’d like to read the whole report before coming to definitive conclusions but wow, are there some important lessons in here for edtech—not least, that efficacy cannot be our only concern! link to ‘Dependence on Tech Caused ‘Staggering’ Education Inequality, U.N. Agency Says - The New York Times’

there but for the grace of Matt go I

This is an interesting academic year for me in a number of ways. It was five years ago that I joined UK as an assistant professor and ten years ago that I started at MSU as a new PhD student. It’s my first year as tenured faculty, and there are leadership changes in my unit and college that are—by the inherent virtue of any change in leadership—inviting opportunities to think about what the future of both look like.

I firmly believe that research is a process of argument—and that statistics are, therefore, a rhetorical device.

I’ve been struggling with putting together a particular document for over a week. It’s like I’ve entirely forgotten how to do academic writing—something I usually feel pretty confident about.

My college is floating the idea of investing in GPT-type technology to help researchers code text data. This reminds me of my longtime belief that the distinction between “qual” and “quant” is often less important than the distinction between different research paradigms.

It’s four hours into my workday, so I guess it’s time to start doing that writing I blocked the whole day off for. 🙃

“Welcome to tenure, here are all your new service obligations.”

Prensky coined the term “digital native” to talk about people my age, but I have a colleague younger than me who is using the term to refer to our undergraduate students. This sums up so much of why I think this term is useless.

new edition of my remixed data science textbook

I’m happy to share that the Fall 2023 edition of my remixed Introduction to Data Science textbook is now available on my website. This book adapts material from the “ModernDive” Statistical Inference via Data Science course, Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren Klein’s excellent Data Feminism, a number of other Creative Commons-licensed works, and some of my own contributions to put together a no-cost, openly-licensed textbook for my data science students. I put together the first edition of this book for last Fall’s version of this course, but the first run through taught me a lot, and I’m very happy about this edition (though I do have a small laundry list of errors to fix, and I’d like to eventually get into some fiddlier bits like removing social media icons from the header).

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Use of AI Is Seeping Into Academic Journals—and It’s Proving Difficult to Detect | WIRED'

Good article on a worrying trend. It’s things like this that make me skeptical of arguments that generative AI could have real benefit when used properly. It’s not that I disagree—it’s that in the aggregate, I’m not sure the proper uses will outweigh the problems. link to ‘Use of AI Is Seeping Into Academic Journals—and It’s Proving Difficult to Detect | WIRED’

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'An Iowa school district is using ChatGPT to decide which books to ban - The Verge'

Even if ChatGPT could be trusted to do this task, “let’s remove books from libraries with less work” is a good example of how efficiency isn’t always a good thing. link to ‘An Iowa school district is using ChatGPT to decide which books to ban - The Verge’

Last day of kiddo’s summer, so no matter how behind I am on course prep, we are unapologetically going to the zoo.

Every semester, I give a guest lecture on internet research methods for an undergrad class in my unit. A few days after scheduling this semester’s lecture, I’ve realized it’s the first time I’m giving it after Musk borked Twitter as a data source.

I get why folks in ed compare ChatGPT to Wikipedia, but there are important differences. Wikipedia is entirely non-profit, lays bare its knowledge generation process, can be fixed on the fly, and can’t actively generate problematic content. It’s not just about reliability.

LIS 618 course mentioned in University of Kentucky news

I love hearing from former students about the great and interesting things that they’re up to—and especially when something they learned in one of my classes helped them along the way. In my experience, former students who are up to great and interesting things would often be doing those things whether or not they had taken one of my classes, but I still appreciate feeling like my teaching contributed in some small way.

📝 writeblog: spent 1:09:29 on 'publish scraping library online presence study'

This project is in its early stages, so I spent some time brushing up on relevant literature.

new publication: Anti-LGBTQ+ discourses in LGBTQ+-affirming spaces on Gab Social

Late last year, I announced the publication of a study I participated in with Dr. Evan Brody and UK PhD student Mehroz Sajjad where we examined LGBTQ+-friendly spaces on the Gab social media platform. Although that was the main focus of our research project, we also found as we were completing it that there were a number of LGBTQ+-friendly spaces that had been overrun by queerphobic activity and discourses. I’m happy to announce that our second paper, focusing on those specific spaces, has just been published in the Journal of Homosexuality.

quoted in Salt Lake Tribune article on DezNat movement

This past weekend, Peggy Fletcher Stack at the Salt Lake Tribune published an article about the #DezNat movement on Mormon Twitter, which takes cues from far-right and anti-feminist online communities. In her article, Peggy was kind enough to reference (and quote from) my new publication with Amy Chapman in the Journal of the Mormon Social Science Association, which presents the (partial) results of a qualitative analysis of over 1,400 DezNat tweets from 2019.