This really makes sense: a new research lab that brings together experts in technology, sociology, physics, economists, psychologists, and social media – even digital ethnography – doing both quantitative and qualitative research. Microsoft is establishing this research lab in Cambridge, Mass., at a time, I think, when interdisciplinary work has never been needed more. So far the facility "has a team of 33 researchers, students and interns … from MIT, Harvard, Stanford University and Hebrew University," Computerworld reports." One project lab director Jennifer Chayes describes is the development of "math models that account for [digital ethnographer danah boyd's] observations [through thousands of interviews with teen social networkers] about the way social networks are layered, and that there are different kinds of friendships." We can only hope Microsoft will share findings that would advance public discussion and understanding.
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