I am a researcher, lecturer and writer working at the intersection of the sociology of knowledge, science and technology studies and media and communication. I’m interested in the changing sources and dynamics of authority and inequality catalysed by the rise of the Internet and increasing deployment of algorithms and automatation to organise and construct knowledge. I’m also passionate about research methodology and am particularly interested in participation by the data subject in digital research methodology.
My first book entitled “Fact Factories” (MIT Press) follows the ways in which the stories of historical events are written about on Wikipedia and the changing sources of authority demonstrated by the ways in which Wikipedians write history as it happens. I also write about social media events on Twitter and the politics of knowledge in search engines such as Google and have published in a variety of publications including Big Data and Society, the International Journal of Communications, Social Studies of Science and a number of Advanced Computer Machinery (ACM) journals. I am a founder editor of ethnographymatters.net and review articles for a number of journals and conferences in the fields of science and technology studies, media and communication.
I’m currently working as a University of Leeds Academic Fellow in Digital Methods based at the School of Media and Communication. Before moving to Leeds, I completed my DPhil (PhD) at the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University. I have a Masters in Information Management and Systems (MIMS) from the University of California, Berkeley iSchool and have worked as a fellow at Stanford University and as a researcher at the University of the Witwatersrand LINK Center.
Before my PhD I worked for a number of non-profit technology organisations including the Association for Progressive Communications, Creative Commons, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, iCommons, Privacy International and Ushahidi as an activist, researcher and manager. I have been on the boards of the Wikimedia Foundation, iCommons and The African Commons Project and have written extensively about the needs for fairer, more flexible intellectual property provisions for the Internet, particularly in developing countries.
Email me: hfordsa at gmail dot com