New NSF Grant: to Europa

I'm delighted to announce that I've been awarded an NSF "EAGER" grant for exploratory research on the Europa mission project. This grant will support two years of work with NASA's recently-selected community of scientists to study how missions get their start. What decisions and processes go into creating a large-scale sociotechnical system? How do these decisions get built into the eventual artifacts that people work with for thirty years or more? Stay tuned for more info and updates about the Europa mission as it develops. In the meanwhile, here is an excerpt from the grant description:

"This exploratory research will study the development of NASA's mission to Jupiter's moon Europa, in order to understand how large, complex, cyber-human systems get started; how their team members develop and then implement a shared vision for their system given heterogeneous backgrounds and collaborative experiences; and what role these activities play in future science and technology outcomes. The Europa robot space probe will repeatedly scan this icy moon that may possess subsurface lakes comparable to those in Antarctica, using nine distinct computerized instruments, including cameras, spectrometers, a magnetometer, and a thermal instrument. While no hardware or software for the Europa mission yet exists, over the period of the research members of the planetary science community will engage in a frenzy of mission activity to turn their plans for space exploration into tangible technologies, building the cyber-human system that will enable their collaborative mission to the Jupiter system. This is a rare opportunity to observe a highly innovative cyber-human team forming for the first time, before their system is constructed, as they ask the questions and articulate the values that will establish the core elements of their eventual information system."

Book "Seeing Like a Rover" In print!

My new book, "Seeing Like a Rover: How robots, teams and images craft knowledge of Mars" is now out and available from the University of Chicago Press. The press did a terrific job with the over 80 (!!!) color images, printing the whole thing in color throughout for a gorgeous result. Find it at any of your favorite local booksellers. It's been reviewed so far by the Times Higher Education Supplement, the Space Review and the Lunar and Planetary Information Bulletin. You can also listen to a podcast discussion of it from New Books in Science Technology and Society.

Advisor at Data and Society, NYC

I'm incredibly excited to join the new Data and Society community as an advisory member. An initiative spearheaded by danah boyd, Data & Society is a "Think/Do Tank" in New York City that brings together an outstanding community of scholars, thinkers, authors, writers, entrepreneurs, journalists, and coders to tackle the toughest problems of the digital age. Looking forward to some terrific conversations.

Yahoo! Grant to study Data Privacy Practices

I'm delighted to announce that I've been selected for the Yahoo! Faculty Research and Engagement Program 2014. I will be working with my colleague Joseph "Jofish" Kaye at Yahoo! Research on an interview study of how users manage their personal data. We'll be talking to people in three different international urban centers. I'm looking forward to working with a terrific team and providing some empirical data on an important problem for design, policy, and innovation.

Can you opt out of big data?

In late April I spoke about my personal experiment on opting out of big data at a local conference, Theorizing the Web 2014. The talk was webcast, covered by Mashable, and promptly went viral. I've tried to collect the major places where the story was told, both via interviews with me (at Forbes, NPR, and Think Progress) and through third-party. You can watch the original talk here and check out my opinion piece that goes into the reasoning behind the experiment and its implications for our data-driven society.

New Op Ed on NASA Funding Cuts

NASA is at it again: this time, the budget allocations are so low for 2014 and 2015 that they will have to gut either Cassini or the Curiosity mission. This shouldn't be an "either-or": the loss of either mission would be a tremendous loss not only for science but also, as I argue, for American jobs, education, and leadership in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math). Check it out, share it, tweet it -- and contact your congressperson.


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