Big Announcement: I’m joining Microsoft Research

And now for some news:

After some wonderful extended visits there, this summer I will be joining Microsoft Research New England, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as a Principal Researcher. It’s an extraordinary opportunity to be part of a dream team in a location that’s a hotbed of the things that fascinate me. I’m thrilled.

I’ll be part of a lab led by the inspiring Jennifer Chayes. The lab brings together social scientists who study social media with scholars of machine learning, computational biology, theoretical computer science, and economics. For three years, danah boyd has anchored social media research there and she’s done an amazing job. I’ll be one of three new social media hires, the other two are Kate Crawford and Mary Gray. This represents a huge and inspired investment in social scientific approaches to social media. It is going to be phenomenally stimulating and also incredibly fun. danah, Kate and Mary are not just three of my favorite scholars, they’re dear friends. Our Social Media Collective will continue to include Postdocs, Ph.D. student interns, and a rotating cast of visitors. It’s kind of like utopia.

Here’s a nice short video introducing the lab:

(If that embed doesn’t work. Here’s a direct link.)

You can read Jennifer’s announcement of all this awesomeness here.

I will continue the kind of research I’ve been doing all along, although we all hope that a cluster of social science social media researchers hanging out with people thinking about computing from very different perspectives will lead to groundbreaking areas we have yet to imagine.  As Jennifer explains in her announcement:

there’s a much broader range of research questions we need to address beyond technology itself, including how we use that technology, why we want to use that technology, and how different cultural norms within the United States and other countries affect how we approach future technology development.

In the short term I’ll be working mostly on writing up the musician interview project I launched at MSR in 2010. I’ll be publishing in the same kinds of venues and I’ll be going to the same kinds of conferences. I’ll still be me doing what I do. But better.

Leaving the University of Kansas is bittersweet – I’ve loved my 13 years here, I love my colleagues, and I feel like I’m leaving family. I’ve been given freedom and support and I’ve built a wonderful career here. I’m grateful to everyone at KU for helping me get to where I am and for being so gracious and supportive as I move on.

A lot of people have had questions as I’ve been telling them about this move. The one everyone seems to ask first is “are you bringing your family?” YES! OF COURSE!

If you have questions, ask away.

Futures of Entertainment 5 Registration Open!

The always-stimulating Futures of Entertainment conference returns after a year’s hiatus. This year it will be held on November 11-12 at MIT’s Gehry-designed Stata Center and will, as always, feature an extraordinary mix of academics and industry professionals on the cutting edge of transformations in entertainment.

I will be moderating a panel on the future of music featuring  Mike King (Berklee School of Music), João Brasil (Brazilian artist), Chuck Fromm (Worship Leader Media), Erin McKeown (musical artist and fellow with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Univeristy),  and final panelist yet to be named from Echonest.

The whole lineup is outstanding, so if you are able to get to Cambridge, MA, be sure to register soon!

{photo of the Stata Center is by Jason Mrachina,aka InspiredinDesMoines on Flickr, cc licensed and available here}

What Jill Sobule’s psychiatrist prescribed

Jill Sobule is a model of excellent online communication with fans. This is one of my favorite stories from the interviews I’ve been doing with musicians:

Jill: I was having a writer’s block about a year ago, year and a half ago, and my friend said, well, you want to see my therapist? I hadn’t seen a therapist in you know, for one– because this was a psychiatrist, the ones that give you drugs, because I’m thinking maybe I have ADD, maybe I should get on Ritalin, so that’s what I was thinking was going to happen.  I was that desperate.  So I went to him and he listened to me for about an hour and a half, and he just kept writing and he says, you know, “so tell me your typical day, what you do.”  And I told him that and at the end, he got out his prescription book and started writing, and I’m thinking I’m getting speed.  And he wrote and he handed it to me and it says “no internet for two weeks.”

Nancy: Really?

Jill:  Yes,  He goes that what he sees all the time, that I was spending way too much time.  If I wanted to write, I needed to disconnect.

Nancy: Did you do that?

Jill:  Mm hmm.

Nancy: Did it work.

Jill:  For eight days.

Nancy: Did you write a lot?

Jill:  It was fantastic.


Video about Making Friends With Fans

Here is a ten minute talk I recorded for New Music Strategies’ AmpNMS ‘online music knowledge event’ about Making Friends With Fans:

Making Friends with Fans from Nancy Baym on Vimeo.

It was followed by Steve Lawson, Stephen Mason and Kira Small discussing issues it raised alongside a chat channel with many others chiming in, all of which will be archived and up on the NMS site before too long.


Engaging Fans Through Social Media

Last week I gave a talk at by:Larm, Norway’s premiere music industry conference and festival. I was invited by GramArt, a nonprofit that works to help musicians, to talk about musicians and social media. If you click here you can download a PDF of the slides and notes from my talk.

In it I identify several of the concerns and issues I’ve been hearing as I interview musicians about audience interaction, argue that it can be easier to handle many of these issues if you understand fan culture, and offer some specific bits of advice that I hope can help musicians and those who work with them navigate these new and still-challenging waters.

The presentation is cc licensed, please pass it around and share it if you like.

Thanks to the many people whose cc licensed flickr shots I used, to GramArt for inviting me, to the many musicians who generously spent time talking with me, to everyone who’s helped me connect with musicians to interview (I’m still at it – let me know if you’ve got good contacts!), to the many people who came to hear me at by:Larm and whose questions helped me better understand musicians’ concerns, and to Microsoft Research New England for the intellectual home and financial support they provided as I launched this project.