My current research focuses on the use of social technologies by LGBT people in the rural Midwest. I am more broadly interested in the ways in which identity and social systems, particularly sexuality, class, and rurality, affect the creation, transmission, storage, and access of information in social settings.
Social technology and LGBT people in the rural Midwest
This ethnographic project investigates the uses of social technologies, particularly social media, by LGBT people in the rural Midwest. I am interested in the ways rural LGBT people use social media to navigate identity-based resources and information, social relationships, and the need for community space in lieu of resources typically utilized by LGBT populations in urban areas (e.g. bars, bookstores, community centers). Beginning in 2017 I also plan on utilizing participatory design and community-based participatory research methods with organizations in the region.
Location-based social networks and rural gay men
This research began in 2014 with a Master’s thesis project on the use of location-based social network, SCRUFF, by gay men in the rural Midwest. The resulting thesis focused primarily on the mediating role of rurality in finding community, navigating sexual relationships, and privacy and safety concerns. It used content analysis of user profiles in urban and rural areas throughout Michigan and semi-structured interviews with users in the rural Midwest. My current interests in this arena are related to how these technologies create particular kinds of users and the role of boredom and familiarity in the day-to-day use of these apps. Some results of this work (co-authored with Silvia Lindtner) appeared in the proceedings of CSCW 2017 (PDF) and received an Honorable Mention for Best Paper.
LGBT parents and social media
Our team conducted interviews with 28 LGBT parents, in collaboration with PhD pre-candidates Lindsay Blackwell and Tawfiq Ammari, Dr. Tiffany Veinot, Dr. Cliff Lampe, and Dr. Sarita Schoenebeck. This study explores the unique experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parents as they navigate their own identity and privacy concerns in tandem with the challenges of child-rearing in an increasingly digital context. The results of this work appeared in the proceedings of CHI 2016 (PDF; 23% acceptance rate).