I am a strong believer in de Tocqueville’s well-known axiom that conversation is the soul of democracy. As a digital media researcher, I find the axiom inspiring because digital space holds ever-expanding share of conversations that occur in contemporary society; it reflects the soul of democracy of our time. Assessing the conversational health of digital communities has been the overarching mission for my journey as a researcher. I am particularly interested in ways in which digitally-mediated communications promote —and restrain— participation, consensus-building, and collaboration. My scholarship has focused on the impact of two technological conditions in this process: networked visibility (i.e., enhanced visibility of laymen’s thoughts and feelings thanks to social media networks) and online anonymity. These two conditions occasionally are contradictory to each other in that the former pertains to the desire for sharing, whereas the latter to the pursuit of concealing. I study various forms of digital communities in different contexts to understand how such competing needs and desires interplay in shaping digital culture.
That said, my nonacademic self is way far from the geek culture. In my free time, I love doing non-digital stuff — meditation, hand-letter writing, reading a book with the smell of hard copy paper, skiing, hiking, and listening to analog radio. The front page image above is a tune-in analogue radio that I enjoy listening to – a gift from one of my precious friends.