I am a Computational Sociologist turned professional Data Scientist with a specialization in how cultural dynamics emerge from individuals. I hold a PhD in Sociology with a concentration in statistics from the University of Washington. Previously, I was an Asst. Professor at the Center for the Study of Complex Systems at the University of Michigan and Fellow with the Michigan Society of Fellows.

To date, my intellectual agenda has focused on mobilizing computational perspectives and methods toward understanding how we, collectively, “define situations as real” and in so doing, make those situations “real in their consequences.”*

I have employed this computational-cultural approach in modeling how the cognitive mechanics of individual perception can lead to the emergence of social construction dynamics, to argue that complex systems methods can be used to develop general cultural theories that are grounded in the predominantly nonrational aspects of human cognition, and proposed that this framework may be further extended toward establishing the cognitive bases of social change processes.  In another vein of work, I’ve also used this computational-cultural approach to demonstrate the inherently social origins of Bitcoin’s worth and to formally demonstrate how communities can “bootstrap” the stable economic value of monies or other objects.

I’ve had the fortune to present on these and related works to a wide number of both academic and public audiences, including invited talks at Data & Society, the Santa Fe Institute, UCLA’s Center for Behavior, Evolution, and Culture, the University of Michigan, Detroit’s Shady Lady Literary Society, and Burning Man’s 2012 “Occupy the Imagination” speaker series.

I bring my insights into computation, complexity, and culture into my roles as the primary social science advisor to the creation of Pol.is and as a founding and current board member for The Computational Democracy Project.

I have also begun translating these notions into writing for more general audiences and hope to do much more of this in the near future.

* Paraphrased from Sociology’s so-called Thomas Theorem: “If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences” (Thomas & Thomas, 1928)