…me, as scholar…

Tags. philosophy of information, information ethics, cognitive science, cultural theory, schemas, semantic technology, digital humanities, new media, knowledge organization, intercultural communication, [more…]

Interdisciplinary. I truly believe that the greatest potential for research can only be found through taking a holistic approach to a problem and drawing from many different discipline and theories. My dissertation work draws on the fields of information and computer science, cognitive anthropology, communication studies, semantics, pragmatics, semiotics, hermeneutics and phenomenology, and applies theoretical threads from these areas to question how semantic interoperability can be achieved using social media by discerning the cultural semantics of folksonomic tags. Without each of these fields the research in which I engage would not be feasible or truly understandable. It is only through the combination and balancing of each of these disciplinary elements that my research questions can be understood and answered.

Depth and Breadth. My undergraduate double major in Psychology and Philosophy provided me with an understanding of the human experience and ways to explore it through experimental design as well as a philosophical discourse. My master’s degree in Intercultural Relations enabled me to combine my experience of extensive intercultural immersion with theories of communication and learning, and allowed me to explore how they manifest in sociotechnical systems–in the cultural use of information and communications technologies. My doctoral education in Information Sciences and Technology enabled me to integrate all of these threads to explore the nature of ontologies and semantics inherent in human cultures and embedded into our technologies. Having developed solid quantitative and qualitative research skills, I now focus on the complex challenge of interdisciplinary theory development that could be well-grounded philosophically and well-tested empirically.

Digital Ecology. My research has been described as seeking ways for people and technologies to better understand each other across cultural and technological boundaries. It consists of questioning the canons and opening new modes of reasoning–questioning the very foundations of the informational architectures that constrains us technologically as we continue to build conceptual and social networks into open and less constrained digital ecologies in an increasingly networked world. I explore the cultural patterns that become embedded in the semantics and behavior of both human and technological systems. Semantic technologies have the potential to be powerful facilitators of knowledge exchange. As more of the planet’s population gain access to and begin contributing to the global discourse through information and communications technologies, including social media, blogs, wikis, with attendant data stores that include immense amounts of metadata, the need for managing intercultural information exchange in meaningful ways and establishing an information ethics becomes increasingly important.

Vanguard. Artificial agents in our financial, educational, and defense systems, have them making increasingly independent decisions that affect the lives of many people. I am currently working on a research proposal to uncover the ethics of algorithms that are having an increasingly significant impact on our lives. Entwined with the cultural background in which our conceptual ontologies are situated are ethical frameworks and schematics that our machines and artificial agents will also have to use. Yet, we do not yet understand well what ethical frameworks are being coded and embedded within artificial agents nor how they are capable of making ethical analyses of their actions and making moral decisions as they adapt to new tasks and environments. The question of how we define or characterize these ethics informationally and how we create the ability for our machines to enact virtue, deontological, teleological, and care approaches as appropriate to the intercultural contexts becomes more important as our machines become more autonomous. An ability to engage in ethical discourse and decision making will become significantly more important as artificial agents’ tasks become more complex and they act more independently.

Multimodal. My evaluations as an instructor and lecturer have always been excellent. I am continually drawn back to the classroom and take joy in the challenge of crafting traditional and blended learning environments that help students develop critical thinking skills, clear writing skills, and foundational understandings of the materials in innovative and creative ways. My intercultural experiences allow me to help students situate themselves in community, team and cultural contexts and understand other, unfamiliar perspectives. My information science background enables me to help students understand the personal, social and ethical implications of engagement in an increasingly digital and networked world. As a philosopher of information and information ethicist, I am able to weave a tapestry of learning in which questions of multimodal expression using information and communications technologies—where the metasemanticization of narratives, the delimitation of culture, the dephysicalization of nature and reality, and the hypostatization of the conceptual environment designed and inhabited by the mind—are emerging as central concerns for digital humanities, social media and information sciences.

Original. As an information ethicist, I am interested in the informational nature of entities and phenomena that enable ethical analysis from anthropo-, bio- and onto-centric perspectives. As a graduate teaching fellow I developed and delivered an original course for my college on Technology and Information Ethics in Spring 2010. It focuses on Floridi’s recently proposed framework of Information Ethics, explores its contrasts with normative ethical frameworks (virtue, consequentialist, deontological and feminist/care), its applicability across cultures and sociotechnical systems, and has as one of its primary projects the creation of a prototype of an ethical assessment agent in an online, gaming or virtual environment. The course establishes a solid foundation for ethical analysis for students in whatever path they choose for their future and is applicable to issues of privacy and security, the digital divide and digital inclusion, new media and communications, virtual environments, software agent design, as well as artificial intelligence. I have written an article about my experience developing and delivering the course, available online in the International Review of Information Ethics, Vol. 14. My evaluation scores were high for the two significant measures of overall quality of the course and the instructor, with a 5.39 and 6.0 respectively, out of a possible 7.0.

See my Research page for an extensive description of my research interests.