Bio

Hi, I’m Doug. I’m a PhD Candidate studying computational social science in the Network Dynamics Group led by Damon Centola at the University of Pennsylvania. My dissertation – “The Network Dynamics of Category Formation” – uses formal models and online experiments to explore how social groups collaboratively construct category systems for novel phenomena.

In my dissertation, I develop an approach to “Networked Crowdsourcing” where communication networks are harnessed among crowdworkers to enhance both consensus and accuracy when forming categories for a wide range of vital domains – from content moderation over social media to scientific classification. For this work, I was recently awarded Facebook’s Research Award in Content Moderation, as well as the Computational Modeling Prize in Applied Cognition by the Cognitive Science Society.

In recent work – published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences – my coauthors and I show how communication in bipartisan networks can drastically reduce partisan bias in the interpretation of climate data. This paper was given the best paper award at the 2018 International Conference on Computational Social Science. I have recently extended this work to examine how communication networks can reduce bias and enhance accuracy in people’s classification of misinformation over social media. (Stay tuned!)

Meanwhile, I maintain a commitment to writing about the philosophical and policy-related implications of computational social science. In a recent article in Policy & Internet, my coauthor and I provide an overview of the policy issues created by emerging misinformation technologies like bots. This paper was awarded the top student paper award at the 2018 conference of the International Communication Association.

My related work has appeared in the Int. Journal of Communication and the Journal of International Affairs, and also in journalistic venues such as The Atlantic and Wired. This research is supported by collaboration with the Annenberg Public Policy Center, the Oxford Internet Institute, and the Institute for the Future.

In general, my work has had the fortune of being covered in prominent news outlets including NPR, The Washington Post, PBS, 60 minutes, and Ars Technica.

A poet at heart, one of my deepest passions is helping others to see the beauty of the world we share, and to help empower others to creatively search for and invent patterns that deepen their experience in a personally significant way.

For fun, I like to explore landscapes, urban, natural, imaginary; I like to compose music and poetry, some of which is shared on my website. And most of all, I like to be peaceful with family and friends, appreciating each moment we share in this mysterious and special world we live in.