My PhD work was undertaken at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Department of History of Art and Design (in the Manchester School of Art), which offered me a very rich interdisciplinary context for my media-focused PhD. My current three-year Fellowship (2012-2015) is on ‘Big Data and Social Change’, focusing on social media, Big Data, data journalism, and citizen engagement. My Fellowship had been extended and between 2015-2017 my work will focus on ‘The Futures of the Visual Web’, closely in line with the remit of the Visual Social Media Lab.
I develop critical methods and tools for analysing social media data and have worked in this area for nearly a decade. I have undertaken various high profile interdisciplinary (cross-sector) projects in this area, for example, I led the social media analysis on ‘Reading the Riots on Twitter’, which examined 2.6 million riot tweets following the UK summer riots in 2011. This was a collaborative academic project with The Guardian and Twitter and received a lot of (media) interest at the time. I also sit on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Social Media and was recently elected to the Big Boulder Initiative’s Board of Directors. I am a regular public speaker. I sit on the Editorial Boards of several new journals, including Big Data & Society and Social Media & Society. Currently I advise a number of UK research councils on developing funding opportunities in social media research, for example through the ESRC’s Big Data Network Phase 3 Working Group.
I feel incredibly lucky and excited to direct the Visual Social Media Lab and am excited about our growing portfolio of projects. This is such an important and still very under-explored area of research. It requires a highly inter/post-disciplinary approach. For me, the lab is therefore not only about social media research, but also about better understanding how to get the most out of such a richly diverse group of researchers.