For the past three years I have been working to reform the American Sociological Associationâ€™s section on “sociology of computers”. In the past year the section has formally adopted a new name and mission. It is now the ASA section on Communication and Information Technologies with the mission to supports research, teaching and other professional activities related to:
â€¢ The social aspects of computing, the Internet, new media, computer networks, and other communication and information technologies. This includes online communities, knowledge management, the digital divide, labor markets, workplaces, and how the Internet fits into everyday life.
â€¢ The design and use of technology. This includes developing and analyzing new kinds of software, and thinking about the implementation of technologies for teaching, research, and the real world.
I just finished reading a magnificent new biography of Stanley Milgram. Milgram is best known for his research on obedience to authority, the lost letter study, and six degrees of separation. His work has always been an inspiration to me and played a big role in my decision to enter academia. For those who have been asking, I am still writing up the findings of my replication of the lost letter study – at 5,000 lost letters in 80+ areas, I think it is probably the largest lost-letter study ever.
Thomas Blassâ€™ biography of Milgram The Man Who Shocked the World: The Life and Legacy of Stanley Milgram is well written and truly a great read. I plan to assign the book to all first year PhD students in my department as part of my course on research methods and design. Blass nicely chronicles Milgramâ€™s life starting with Milgramâ€™s decision to enter college, the turmoil and conflicts of graduate school, the even more conflicted process of getting an academic job, as well as the thinking and design behind each of his studies. Highly recommended reading!