I am a Marie S. Curie research fellow at the University of Sussex and an assistant professor in Digital Culture at Maastricht University’s Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences. After returning from parental leave in September 2019, I started my most recent research project ‘Hacking your way to IT expertise’ (HACKIT). I do research on tech learning environments: hack(er)- and makerspaces as well as meetups, workshops and hackathons. I am particularly interested in the link between learning and diversity in tech as well as factors of in-/exclusion of underrepresented groups
I am fascinated by social practices emerging in interaction with digital technology – and vice versa. In consequence, I often discuss societal, political, and ethical issues arising from techno-cultural entanglements.
My educational background is in sociology (University of Auckland, NZ) as well as in media studies and economics (University of Siegen, GER). Therefore, my work is mostly based on interdisciplinary approaches.
In the past, my research addressed mainly two fields:
- I became interested in practices of informal IT (information technology) learning in the form of hacking a few years ago. In 2014, I received an NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) grant as co-investigator for the project “Hacking Heritage“. It was led by my UM colleague Karin Wenz. Together, we began to explore how hackathons have been and could be used as events for civic innovation and IT learning. You can find an open access article on collaboration and learning at such ‘hacking events’ in the Convergence Journal. Inspired by the fascinating people whom I met during various hackathons, I got interested in the communities which are drawn to these events: hacker- and makerspaces, or more specifically of course: their members. In February 2018, I was granted a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship (MCIF) titled “Hacking your way to IT expertise” which I started at the University of Sussex in September 2019.
- I have also examined the intersection of digital technology and public health research, with particular regards to implications of ‘big data’. For example, I have addressed the ethical challenges emerging from corporate big data projects such as Google Flu Trends. And I have written on the politics of mapping big data, referring to examples such as Healthmap and Flu Near You. In 2018, I published a book on how big data, especially social media data, are used in public health research and which ethical issues arise in this context. I am very glad that I found an excellent open access publisher for this book, Westminster University Press, so you can download The Big Data Agenda: Data Ethics and Critical Data Studies for free.
I am a big fan of “space hacking” and have a thing for abandoned industrial buildings, such as the former Sphinx factory in Maastricht (see above). I am also into climbing – since I live in the Netherlands, mainly indoor climbing (for obvious reasons). Occasionally, some related topics might find their way into this blog.