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My Summer at Microsoft Research


I’ve been remiss in not posting this earlier, but I am spending this summer at Microsoft Research New England — affectionately and appropriately dubbed “NERD” (New England R&D) — working with my good friend danah boyd. I am equally pleased to be working with (and sharing an office with!) Alice Marwick and Sarita Yardi. You may remember Sarita from such papers as Blogging at Work and the Corporate Attention Economy. We worked together last summer and it’s nice to get to do so again.

It’s really nice to be back in Cambridge. Angie and I have a fancy MS-subsidized apartment (they take really nice care of their interns!) from which it takes me a full 4 minutes and 30 seconds to walk to work, about 2 minutes to the Kendall Square T station, and maybe 10 minutes to the mall. I’ve already bumped into one old friend on the street, and expect more.

Like my old lab at HP, Microsoft New England boasts of physicists, theoretical computer scientists, game theorists, and what-have-you. There are frequent lab-wide lunches and people are actively multidisciplinary. So it’s a pleasantly familiar experience. But the view from the MS lab is just fantastic (h/t @yardi for the pic).

Alice, Sarita and I are all studying Twitter, but from different and interesting approaches — more on our results as we produce them. From informal conversations with friends who are interning elsewhere, it seems like everyone is studying Twitter in some capacity this summer. The contrarian in me wants to run in the other direction, but there’s a lot I want to know about how Twitter works, and I think it can be a useful case study to do some interesting social science, so I’ll ignore my knee-jerk response and stay with it. My prediction is that CHI’10 will be loused with Twitter papers, many will get in but many will not, and by CHI ’11 or ’12, everyone will be jaded and tired of Twitter papers. And so it goes.


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