Shelly Farnham CV

Shelly Farnham



  • Date of Birth:      Sept 20 1969
  • Nationality:           USA
  • ACM Member #:   6597949


  • Email: shelly [at] ThirdPlaceTechnologies [dot] com Phone: (two oh six) 226-3586
  • Google Scholar: (h = 30, i10 = 50)
  • LinkedIn


Exceptionally innovative and experienced Human-Computer Interaction and Social Computing research scientist with excellent research, communication, and people management skills.  Have built and managed high-performing interdisciplinary research teams in leading computer technology companies while at the same time performing impactful research as an individual contributor with numerous papers and patents.  Topical expertise includes social psychology, social media, civic technologies, community technologies, learning networks, socio-technical design patterns, and online behavioral data analytics.

  • Recognized thought leader in the HCI/Social Computing industry and academic research circles, with expertise in fields of social media, social computing, learning networks, and civic technologies. Participated in research communities through papers, presentations, and collaborations, and by organizing panels, workshops and conferences.
  • 10+ years’ research management experience for interdisciplinary teams, including both quantitative and qualitative researchers, psychologists, usability engineers, ethnographers, data scientists, developers, and designers.
  • Knowledge of diverse research methodologies, including experimental studies, online usage analysis, questionnaires, focus groups, ethnographic field studies, usability testing, exploratory concept design analysis, AB testing, and how to best answer research questions depending on the current phase of the project’s life cycle.
  • History of impactful research with demonstrated ability to develop and articulate research strategy and mission, recruit top talent required as needed to achieve research needs, and leverage research results to accelerate advances in new technology through presentations, publications, and patents.
  • Expert in quantitative online behavioral and social media research including open data and social media analytics, system instrumentation, algorithm development, data curation, behavioral statistics, and large scale questionnaire studies. Technical skills include SPSS, SQL, C#, .Net, Visual Studio, Azure, Web APIs.
  • Advanced prototyping including exploratory user interfaces and algorithm development for social technologies. Technical skills include Visual Studio, .Net, C#, Javascript, SQL, Azure.


Executive Director & Principal Research Scientist, Third Place Technologies, November 2014 to present.   Founded a non-profit organization with a mission to foster community empowerment and well-being through innovation in technology.  Developed strategy and mission statement, recruited board of directors, applied for grants, managed contingent staff, interns, and volunteers, performed user research, and developed advanced data-driven prototypes.  Projects include Spokin and Spokin Updates.

Team Lead/Research Manager, FUSE Labs, Microsoft Research. April 2011 – November 2014.   Team lead for all research initiatives exploring innovative social media and community technology solutions.  Managed interdisciplinary team, performed social media and learning networks research, and developed data-centric prototypes.  Projects include (interest network), Whooly (supporting neighborhood-based social networking), and HereHere (emotionally engaging 311/open data for NYC

Staff/Senior Researcher, Yahoo! November 2009 – December 2010Researched early stage social technologies as an embedded researcher with the communications and communities teams (Yahoo! Mail, Groups, Messenger), with the goals of guiding forward-thinking products and inspiring innovation.

Founder, Research Consultant, Waggle Labs, June 2006 – November 2009.  Founded startup and startup consulting company performing early stage research and development in the social networking and community technologies space.  Consulting clients included Strands Labs (place-based social networking), Zillow (social technology for home owners), Trusera (health-based social networking), O’Reilly Radar (Facebook application analysis), Microsoft (Teen Panel), and City of Seattle (teen blogging for civic engagement).  Incubated several in-house technologies, including Pathable (event based social networking, later spun out as its own company), RealityAllStarz (online challenge game), Swaggle (mobile social coordination), and MyTwee (twitter visualization game).

Founder, User Experience Architect, Pathable, June 2007 – December 2008. Spun out Pathable, one of Waggle Labs’ incubation projects, as its own company with two co-founders.  Pathable continues today as a successful, profitable startup.  Performed early phase research and development for event-based social networking tool, Pathable, including professional match-making algorithms.

Adjunct Professor, University of Washington, Fall 2007. Developed and taught course on “Social Web 2.0” to students in the Digital Media and Communications Master’s program.

Researcher, Social Computing Group, Microsoft Research, October 1999 – October 2005. Researched social technologies with projects expected to impact Microsoft products two to ten years in the future.   Core responsibilities included user research, social data analysis, advanced prototyping, and management of teams of two to five.  Projects included Wallop (media-centric social networking), Slam (mobile social coordination for smart phone), Swarm (text based mobile social coordination), Xbox Live (matchmaking), Inner Circle (email-based networking and sharing), Personal Map (email networks), Point-to-Point (enterprise social networking), MSR Connections (mailing list networks), MSN Communities (large scale usage analysis), HutchWorld (virtual world for cancer patients).

Research Assistant, University of Washington, Fall 1993 – Spring 1998. Developed, implemented, analyzed, and reported studies examining self-esteem, social identity, and stereotypes.  Mentored undergraduates in developing and implementing their own research projects.

Instructor and Teaching Assistant. University of Washington, Fall 1993- Spring 1998. Instructor for Laboratory in Social Psychology, 2 quarters. Taught research skills and provided undergraduates with direct, hands-on experience with the experimental process. Teaching Assistant for Introduction to Social Psychology, 3 quarters, Human Sexuality, 3 quarters, Developmental Psychology, 2 quarters, Laboratory in Social Psychology, 4 quarters. Conducted discussion sections, developed exams, graded papers, and advised research groups.

Developer, University of Washington, Fall 1998 – Fall 1999. Developed FIAT 2.3 using C++, an application that allowed experimenters to develop and use Implicit Association Tests, which measure implicit attitudes through reaction time data.


  • Statistics and data manipulation: Strong quantitative background and experience with statistical analysis (e.g. ANOVAs, linear modeling), operationalizing social constructs from usage behavior in communication technologies, instrumenting social systems, and data manipulation including object oriented programming (C#, .Net, Javascript). Tools: Visual Studio .Net and C#, Azure, SPSS, Excel, SQL, MySQL, Perl, Web APIs, Actionscript 3.0, JSON, XML, Hadoop
  • Web prototyping: Extensive experience translating ideas into proof-of-concept prototypes and real world applications. Tools: Visual Studio .Net and C#, Azure, Javascript, Flash, Actionscript 3.0, HTML, WordPress, Illustrator, Photoshop, Omnigraffle
  • Internet of Things prototyping:  Arduinos, sensors, controllable lighting, bluetooth


  • Association for Computer Machinery; SigCHI chapter member.
  • American Psychological Society.


  • Ph.D. in Social Psychology, Minor in Quantitative Methods and Computer Science. University of Washington, 1993 – 1999.
    • Advisor: Tony Greenwald
    • Dissertation Title: From Implicit Self-esteem to In-group Favoritism
  • B.A. in Psychology and Fine Arts (double major), Georgetown University, 1987 – 1991.


  • Adjunct Professor, University of Washington, Fall 2007. Developed and taught course on “Social Web 2.0” to students in the Digital Media and Communications Master’s program.
  • Instructor, Laboratory in Social Psychology, University of Washington, Fall 1997, Fall 1998. Taught research skills and provided undergraduate students with direct, hands-on experience with the experimental process.


  • Organizer: Electric Sky (2015, 2016), bringing together people at the intersection of art and technology..
  • Panel Chair: Faculty Summit Panel “Public Networks” (2014)
  • Chair: Social Media Expo, iConference (2013-2015).       Proposed the Social Media Expo in 2012 to the iConference as a channel for MSR to have impact on the growing community of iSchools.
  • Principle Organizer: SoDApop (2014). SoDApop is an interdisciplinary group of people in the Pacific Northwest exploring new ways to leverage social media, big data, and collective action technologies toward a smarter, better society. Played a lead role in starting and organizing, in collaboration with faculty form the UW iSchool.
  • Principle Organizer: Arts and Technology Initiative (2014). Organizing a series of events bringing together key people in the region to discuss how we can help foster the growing community of artists/technologists in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Editor: ACM Interactions Magazine Social Media Forum (2013-2014)
  • Works in Progress Co-Chair: CHI (2013-2014)
  • Senior Program Committee: ICWSM (2013)
  • Organizer: Social Researchers Workshop (2013). Internal MSR event bringing together 40 leading social researchers from labs around the world
  • Organizer: Social Media Day Workshop (2013). Brought together 40 leading social media researchers for one day workshop in conjunction with the MSR Faculty Summit.
  • Event Committee Member:  Women in Technology at Yahoo!
  • Principle Organizer: Workshop on Innovation in Social Technology, Yahoo! Internal event  
  • Panelist: National Science Foundation, 2010.
  • Principle Organizer: Frayed Wire, a one day workshop for people at intersection of art and technology.
  • Principle Organizer: SalonTC, Salon de Technologie et de Creativite.
  • Principle Organizer: Social Computing Symposium 2004 and Social Computing Symposium 2005, Microsoft Research.  The Symposium brings together leaders in the study and development social technologies both in research and industry. Played lead role in initiating the symposium and organizing the first several years.
  • Organizer and MSR Liason:  Design Expo, Microsoft Research.  Worked with Joy Mountford and Lili Cheng to bring students and faculty from six leading design universities to present team projects at the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit
  • Chair of Organizing CommitteeDorkbot-sea 2006-2009, Seattle-based group that meets monthly to foster innovative art and technology. 
  • Program Committee: Communities Technologies 2005
  • Associate Chair of Paper Committee: ACM Computer Human Interaction 2005
  • Associate Chair of Notes Committee: ACM Computer Human Interaction 2007
  • Co-organizer: Workshop at Computer Supported Cooperative Work 2004, Social Networks for Design and Analysis
  • Principle Organizer: Workshop at Computer Human Interaction 2001, Integrating Diverse Research and Development Approaches to the Construction of Social Cyberspaces.
  • Reviewer (ongoing): International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM), Computer Human Interaction (CHI), Hawaiian International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS), Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), Journal of Computer Human Interaction, GROUP.
  • Graduate Student Representative: Social Psychology Search Committee and Graduate Training Committee, Department of Psychology, University of Washington


  • Ignite Seattle (2016).  The Data is In:  How to Improve your Neighborhood Well-being.
  • Computer professionals for social responsibility (2014). Levering Social Media for Community Well-being.
  • The iDeans Faculty Summit 3rd Day Event (2014). Social Media and Open Data.
  • Get Mobile Forum by The California Endowment, the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy (2014). Community Engagement in the Age of Civic Media
  • Code for America civic hack day (2014). Social Media and Open Data.
  • City of Seattle design week pechakucha (2013). Social Media and Neighborhood Well-being.
  • Faculty Summit (2013). Civic Media.
  • CHI (2013). Analyzing Social Media Systems. CHI Course with Emre Kiciman.
  • University of Washington, Syracuse University, Michigan University (2013). Analyzing Social Media Systems.
  • Seattle Ignite (2012). Why I Hate Facebook.
  • Social Computing Symposium (2012). When the World is a Classroom.
  • Digital Media and Learning (2011). Panel: Making, Tinkering, and Remixing.
  • Open Web Foo Camp, O’Reilly Media. (2010). Managing Faceted Identity in an Age of Social Media.
  • Yahoo! Community Managers’ Conference. (2010). Communities and Groups in the Age of Social Media
  • Web 2.0 Expo. (2010). H.E.Ai.D. Human Energized Artificial Intelligence Device – an Invited Installation
  • Yahoo! Research Science Conference. (2010). Groups vs. Networks.
  • International Association of Business Communicators. (2009). Online Community Matters.
  • Ignite, Seattle. (2009). Why Social Tagging Matters to Me.
  • Dorkbot Portland. (2008). At the Intersection of Art, Science and Technology.
  • Shop08 (2008). Panel on Internet Magic.
  • StartupDay, Seattle. (2009). Social Networking and Partnering for Startups.
  • Frog Design, Seattle. (2009). Psychology of Social Media: Implications for Design.
  • Frayed Wire. (2009). At the Intersection of Art, Science, and Technology.
  • MeetDifferent. (2009). Workshop on Leveraging Social Media at Events.
  • IxDA, Seattle. (2009). Psychology of Social Media: Implications for Design.
  • DUB, University of Washington, Seattle. (2009). Psychology of Social Media: Implications for Design.
  • Ignite, Seattle (2008). Community Genius: Leveraging Community to Increase your Creative Powers.
  • Yahoo! Senior Executive Meeting. (2008). Facebook Application Ecosystem.
  • Social Computing Symposium, Microsoft. (2008). Teen Panel.
  • Softserve, Microsoft Senior Executive Conference. (2008). Teen Panel.
  • O’Reilly Media Webinar. (2008). What Makes Facebook Apps Work.
  • Ignite, Seattle. (2006). Dorkbot: At the Intersection of Technology, Science, Art.
  • FOWA. (2007). Pathabe.
  • Foo Camp, O’Reilly Media. (2007). Event-based Social Networking.
  • Facebook Developer Garage. (2007). Facebook Application Ecosystem.
  • DUB, University of Washington, Seattle. (2007). Using Technology to Nurture Community.
  • Seattle Mind Camp. (2005). Observations of Communication Challenges in Katrina Relief Organizations.
  • NPower. (2005). Research and Innovation in Social Computing.
  • Microsoft Research Faculty Summit. (2005). Wallop: Social Networks, Blogs, and Sharing.
  • Microsoft Research Faculty Summit. (2004). Research in Social Computing.
  • Social Computing Symposium. (2004). Planning and Re-experiencing Social Events through Communication Technologies.
  • PC Forum. (2004). Demoing Wallop.
  • Ph.D Seminar. University of Washington. (2002). Applied Research in Technology.



  • Obtaining hyperlocal content from social media (5/7/2012)
  • Ambient collage display of digital media content (1/29/2010)
  • Method for online game matchmaking using play style information (11/10/2009)
  • Place-based Social Networking (2008 patent predisclosure)
  • Event-based Social Matching (2007 patent predisclosure)
  • Command based system for broadcasting group SMS with mobile message receive and communication server (7/31/2007)
  • Selective Multi-level Expansion of Data Base via Pivot Point Data (1/23/2007)
  • Implicit Group Formation around Feed Content for Mobile Devices (8/15/2005)
  • Group-centric Location Tagging for Mobile Devices (8/8/2005)
  • Systems and Methods to Facilitate Self-Regulation of Social Networks through Trading and Gift Exchange (5/13/2005)
  • Dynamic Group Formation for Social Interaction (4/21/2005)
  • People -Centric View of Email (2/1/2005)
  • Command Based Group SMS with Mobile Message Receiver and Server (9/30/2004)
  • Sharing Media Objects in a Network (7/1/2004)
  • Application for Sharing Content in a Network of Computer Users (4/19/2004)
  • Instant Meeting Preparation Architecture (4/1/2004)
  • Identification of Relationships in an Environment (12/31/2003))
  • Computer System Architecture for Automatic Context Association (6/28/2002)
  • Social Mapping of Contacts from Computer Communication Information (6/04/2002)
  • System and Methods for Sharing Dynamic Content Among a Plurality of Online Co-Users (5/31/2002)


  • Brown, J. D., Farnham, S. D., & Cook, K. E. (2002). Emotional responses to changing feedback: Is it better to have won and lost than never to have won at all? Journal of Personality, 70, pp. 127-141.
  • Cheng, L., Stone, L., Farnham, S., Clark, A. M., & Zaner-Godsey, M. (2000) Hutchworld: lessons learned. A collaborative project: Fred Hutchsinson Cancer Research Center & Microsoft Research. In Proceedings of Virtual Worlds Conference 2000, Paris, France, June 2000.  Reprinted in J. C. Heudin (Ed.) Virtual Worlds, 2000, Springer Berlin/Heidelberg.
  • Chesley, H., Kawal, R., Landau, J., Cheng, L., Farnham, S., Seban, S. (2000). Scripting business social interactions. In Proceedings of SSGRR, July 2000.
  • Davis, J., Zaner, M., Farnham, S., Marcjan, C., McCarthy, B. (2003) Wireless brainstorming: Overcoming status effects in small group decisions. In Proceedings of HICCS-36 2003, Hawaii.
  • Farnham, S., Brice, J., Tremblay, G., Christie, C., and da Silva, A.  (2015).  Fostering a community of innovation at the intersection of art and technology in the Pacific Northwest.  In Proceedings of the 21st International Symposium on Electronic Art.
  • Farnham, S., Brown, P., Schwartz, J., (2009). Leveraging social software for strategic social networking and community development at events. In Communities and Technologies 2009.
  • Farnham, S., Cheng, L., Stone, L., Zaner-Godsey, M., Hibbeln, C, Syrjala, K., Clark, A., & Abrams, J. (2002). HutchWorld: Clinical study of computer-mediated social support for cancer patients and their caregivers. In Proceedings of CHI 2002, Minneapolis,April 2002.
  • Farnham, S., Chesley, H. McGhee, D., & Kawal, R. (2000). Structured on-line interactions: Improving the decision-making of small discussion groups. In Proceedings of CSCW 2000, Philadelphia, December, 2000.
  • Farnham, S. & Churchill, E. F.  (2011). Faceted identity, faceted lives: Social and technical issues in being yourself online.  In Proceedings of Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 2011.
  • Farnham, S., Kelly, S.U., Portnoy, W., & Schwartz, J.L.K. (2004). Wallop: Designing social software for co-located social networks. In Proceedings of HICSS-37, 2004, Hawaii.
  • Farnham, S., Keyani, P. (2006). Swarm: Hyper awareness, hyper coordination, and smart convergence through mobile group text messaging. In Proceedings of HICSS-39, 2006, Hawaii.
  • Farnham, S., Keyes, D., Yuki, V., Tugwell, C. (2012). Puget Sound Off: Fostering youth civic engagement through citizen journalism. In Proceedings of ACM 2012 CSCW.
  • Farnham, S., Keyes, D., Yuki, V., Tugwell, C.  (2013).  Modeling youth civic engagement in  new world of networked publics.  In Proceedings of AAAI International Conference of Social Media and Weblogs.
  • Farnham, S., Kirkpatrick, R., Pedersen, E. (2006). Observation of Katrina/Rita deployment: Addressing social and communication challenges of ephemeral groups. In Proceedings of ISCRAM 2006, Newark, New Jersey.
  • Farnham, S., Lahav, M., Raskino, D., Cheng, L., Ickman, T., Laird-McConnell, T. (2012).  An interest network for informal learning.  In Proceedings of ICWSM 2012.  Best Paper Nomination.
  • Farnham, S., Portnoy, W., Turski, A., Cheng, L., Vronay, D. (2003). Personal Map: Automatically modeling the user’s online social network. In Proceedings of Interact 2003, Switzerland, July 2003.
  • Farnham, S., Zaner, M., Cheng, L. (2001). Designing for sociability in shared browsers. In Proceedings of Interact 2001, Tokyo, July 2001.
  • Farnham, S., Zaner-Godsey, M., S. Cheng, L., Stone, L., & Clark, A. M. (2001). Hutchworld: computer-mediated social support for hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) recipients and their caregivers. In Proceedings of Medicine Meets Virtual Reality 2001, San Jose, January 2001.
  • Greenwald, A. G., Banaji, M. R., Rudman, L. A., Farnham, S. D., Nosek, B. A., & Mellott, D. S. (2002). A unified theory of implicit attitudes, stereotypes, self-esteem, and self-concept. Psychological Review, 109, 3-25.
  • Greenwald, A. G., & Farnham, S. D. (2000). Using the Implicit Association Test to measure self-esteem and self-concept. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 1022-1038.
  • Greenwald, A. G., Pickrell, J. E., & Farnham, S. D. (2002). Implicit partisanship: Taking sides for no reason. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 367-379.
  • Hu, Yuheng, Farnham, S., Talamadupula, K. (2015).  Predicting user engagement on Twitter with real-world events. In In Proceedings of AAAI International Conference of Social Media and Weblogs.
  • Hu, Yuheng, Farnham, S., Monroy-Hernandez, A. (2013). Facilitating information-seeking for informal hyperlocal communities using social media.   In Proceedings of CHI, 2013. Honorable Mention.
  • Jensen, C., Davis, J., & Farnham, S. (2002). Finding others online: Reputation systems for social online spaces. In Proceedings of CHI 2002, Minneapolis, April 2002.
  • Jensen, C., Farnham, S., Drucker, S., & Kollock, P. (2000). The effect of communication modality on cooperation in online environments. In Proceedings of CHI 2000, The Hague, Netherlands March 2000.
  • Kelly, S., Sung, C., & Farnham S. (2002). Designing for improved social responsibility and content in on-line communities. In Proceedings of CHI 2002, Minneapolis, April 2002.
  • Lin, P., Farnham, S. (2013). Opportunities via extended networks for teens’ informal learning. In Proceedings of the 2013 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work.
  • McCarthy, J., Farnham, S., Patel, Y., et al. (2009).  Supporting community in third places with situated social software.  In Communities and Technologies, 2009.
  • Ozenc. K. & Farnham, S. (2011). Life modes in social media. In Proceedings of CHI 2011.
  • Riegelsberger, J., Counts, S., Farnham, S.D. Philips, B. C.  (2007).  Personality matters: Incorporating detailed user attributes and preferences into the natchmaking process. In Proceedings of HICSS, 2007.
  • Riegelsberger, J., Counts, S., Farnham, S, Philips, B. C. (2006). Sounds good to me: effects of photo and voice profiles on gaming partner choice. In Proc. 20th Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 2006.
  • Smith, M., Farnham, S., & Drucker S. (2000). The social life of small graphical chat spaces. In Proceedings of CHI 2000, The Hague, Netherlands March 2000. Reprinted in R. Schroeder (Ed.) The Social Life of Avatars: Presence and Interaction in Shared Virtual Environments. Springer: London. 2002.

Short papers (4-6 pages):

  • Davis, J., Farnham, S., Jensen, C. (2002). Decreasing online ‘bad’ behavior. In Extended Abstracts of CHI 2002, Minneapolis, April 2002.
  • Farnham, S. D. & Churchill, E. F. (2010). Faceted identity, faceted lives: social and technical issues in being yourself online. Short paper In Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, 2010.
  • Farnham, S. D., Turski, A., Halai, S.  (2012).  Social file sharing in Facebook.  In Proceedings of Sixth International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media.
  • Farnham, S., McCarthy, J., Patel, Y., Ahuja, S., Norman, D., Hazlewood, W., Lind, J. (2009). Measuring the impact of place attachment on the adoption of a place-based community technology. In Proceedings of CHI 2009.
  • Halia, S., Farnham, S., Melander, G., Joffray, F., Roberson, N., Jensen, C.  Dotastic:  Achieving goals by socializing tasks.  In Proceedings of the ACM 2012 CSCW.
    personal web history. In Extended Abstracts of CHI 2003, Fort Lauderdale, FL.
  • LeeTiernan, S., Farnham, S., & Cheng, L. (2003). Two methods for organizing
  • Williams, A., Farnham, S., & Counts, S. (2006). Exploring wearable ambient displays for social awareness. In Extended Abstracts of CHI 2006, Florida, April 2006.
  • Zhang, H., Monroy-Hernández, A., Shaw, A.D., Munson, S.A., Gerber, E.M., Benjamin Hill, B. M., Kinnaird, P., Farnham, S.D., Minde, P.  (2014).  WeDo:  End-to-end computer supported collective action.  In Extended Abstracts of CSCW 2014.


  • Cheng, L., Farnham, S., Stone, L. (2002). Lessons learned: Social interactions in virtual environments. Digital Cities II: Computational and Sociological Approaches, pp 597-604. Springer Berlin/Heidelberg.
  • Cheng, L., Farnham, S., and Stone, L. (2002). Lessons learned: Building and deploying shared virtual environments. P. 90-111. In R. Schroeder (Ed.) The Social Life of Avatars: Presence and Interaction in Shared Virtual Environments . Springer: London 2002.
  • Cheng, L., Stone, L., Farnham, S., Clark, A. M., & Zaner-Godsey, M. (2000) Hutchworld: lessons learned. A collaborative project: Fred Hutchsinson Cancer Research Center & Microsoft Research. In J. C. Heudin (Ed.) Virtual Worlds, 2000, Springer Berlin/Heidelberg.
  • Farnham, S. D., Greenwald, A. G., & Banaji, M. (1999). Implicit self-esteem: using the implicit association test. In D. Abrams & M. Hogg (Eds.), Social Identity and Cognition. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
  • Farnham, S. (2000). Social psychology online. Observer, American Psychological Society. Dec 2000, 13, 10.
  • Farnham, S. D., (2002). Predicting active participation in MSN communities. It’s all in the conversation. Microsoft Technical Report MSR-TR-2002-36.
  • Farnham, S. D., (2007). Art in the age of social participation on the mega scale: Using crowdsourcing for your projects. ONSCREEN Magazine, May 2007, 911 Media Arts.
  • Farnham, S. D., (2008). The Facebook application ecosystem: Why some thrive – and most don’t. An O’Reilly Radar Report, March 2008.
  • Greenwald, A. G., Banaji, M. R., Rudman, S. D., Farnham, S. D., Nosek, B. A., & Rosier, M. (2000). Prologue to a unified theory of attitudes, stereotypes, and self-concept. In J. P. Forgas (Ed.) Feeling and Thinking: The Role of Affect in Social Cognition and Behavior (pp. 308-330). New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Keyani, P., & Farnham, S. D., (2005). Swarm: Text messaging designed to enhance social coordination. In Harper, R., Palen, L., Taylor, A. (Eds.) The Inside Text: Social, Cultural, and Design Perspectives on SMS.
  • Monroy-Hernandez, Andres, Farnham, S. D., Kiciman, E., Counts, S., De Choudhury, M. (2013). Smart societies: from citizens as sensors to collective action. Interactions, 20 (4), 16-19.


  • Farnham, S. (2002). Personal Map: Automatically modeling the user’s online social network. Paper presented at CSCW 2002 workshop: Redesigning Email for the 21st Century.
  • Farnham, S. (2002). Visualizing discourse architectures with automatically generated person-centric social networks. Paper presented at CHI 2002 Workshop: Discourse Architectures.
  • Farnham, S., Keyani, P. (2004). Swarm: Smart Convergence and Peripheral Social Awareness. Paper presented at HCIC 2004, Winter Park, Colorado.
  • Farnham, S., Portnoy, W., Tursky, A. (2004). Using email mailing lists to approximate and explore corporate social networks. Paper presented at CSCW 2004 workshop: Social Networks for Design and Analysis.
  • Farnham, S., Turski, A., Portnoy, W., & Davis, J. (2002). Connections: Exploring who knows whom through social networks. Paper presented at HCIC 2002, Winter Park, Colorado
  • Farnham, S. Cheng, L., Stone, L., Clark, A. M., & Zaner-Godsey, M. (2001) Hutchworld: Lessons Learned. A collaborative project: Fred Hutchsinson Cancer Research Center & Microsoft Research. Paper presented at HCIC 2001, Winter Park, CO, 2001.
  • Turski, A., Warnack, D., Cheng, L., Farnham, S., Yee, S. (2005). Inner Circle: People centered email client. Poster presented at CHI 2005.


As a Social Computing research scientist, the underlying theme to all my research is that we can meaningfully enable people to connect with each other via technology. Through my drive to have a real world, meaningful impact on people’s lives,  I have worked primarily in industry research focusing on innovation in social technologies. My approach as both a social psychologist and a technologist is to first develop a deep understanding of natural social processes in any problem space, design innovation proposals based on my observations, prototype new technologies to test key research questions, and then deploy and evaluate said prototypes. I favor triangulating on research answers by combining diverse methodologies including data analysis, online questionnaires, lab studies, and ethnographic observation – however with a strong bias toward data analysis.

My early work in the Social Computing Group at Microsoft Research (MSR; 1999-2005) focused on how communication technologies may be used for improved social support when coping with health issues (HutchWorld). At that time it became apparent to me that people derive the most value from technology by connecting to their existing, real world relationships – their family, friends, and co-workers. I completed several research projects examining how people mentally model their social groups and how might we help users automatically organize their social networks based on communication behavior (Personal Map), and how might they expand their social networks through conversation around shared media at home (Wallop) and interest-based, bootstrapped networks at work (MSR Connections, Point to Point). I also performed a number of studies examining how to help people find each other by optimizing profiles and matchmaking services. At the same time, I was enraptured with the changing nature of social coordination through the emergence of the cell phone, consequently creating several technologies focused on group level hyper-communication and coordination (Swarm, S.L.A.M.), and completing an intensive deployment study of the communication and coordination challenges for ad-hoc relief workers in New Orleans following Katrina.

My research at MSR led to numerous papers published in first tier conferences, and numerous patents. My projects had a meaningful impact on Microsoft technologies, particularly Outlook, Sharepoint, Windows Mobile, and Xbox Live, and two of my projects were spun out of Microsoft as their own startups including Wallop, which left Microsoft with 40,000 users and raised 25 million dollars.   As a member of the HCI community I organized several workshops, contributed to the field as a chair of paper committees, mentored Ph.D. student interns, and started a Microsoft-sponsored first tier event, the Social Computing Symposium, bringing together thought leaders from academia, industry research, startups, and news media.

In 2006 I carried my passion for creating new technologies into the startup world, focusing on projects that explored how to leverage the increasing prevalence of social networking and social media technologies for real-world community development. In addition to consulting with various startups (as Waggle Labs) to help them incorporate theory, research, and best practices into their innovation processes, I started my own company, Pathable, with two co-founders. We chose to build Pathable based on my research in the professional event space, which focused on how to optimize finding similar others (through theory-based matching algorithms) in the short time available at conferences. Pathable is now a profitable business providing rich community tools for hundreds of conferences, including DELL, Microsoft, HP, NSF, and GE, and in 2009 won an international industry award (EIBTM) for best new technology for events.

While in the startup world, I continued to participate in the HCI research community through publishing papers in first tier conferences, and teaching a class “Social Web 2.0” at the University of Washington. Fundamentally, I am a research scientist, and in 2009 returned to industry research at Yahoo! where I worked directly with the communities teams to engage in forward thinking research, particularly addressing how to help users manage their increasingly integrated communication and social networking streams across the different facets of their lives. In the Spring of 2011, I returned to Microsoft Research in FUSE Labs, where I continued my research exploring identity and social group management in social media systems, and pursue new interests in hyper-local community and civic media, and informal learning through social media.   My last prototyping project at Microsoft Research, Whooly, examined how to help hyperlocal communities connect, and has recently led to several papers, patents, and media mentions as an innovative approach to leveraging social media for neighborhood well-being.   In order to apply this recent line of work to the non-profit sector, I founded Third Place Technologies, with the mission of focusing on exploring new ways to leverage social media, open data, and collective action technologies toward a smarter society.

Going forward, there are two lines of research I am currently pursuing:

Social Productivity in the Third Sphere

As argued by Oldenburg, third places, such as coffee shops, bars, and libraries, play an essential role in helping thriving communities form, by providing a safe public place where people can develop relationships through frequent serendipitous interactions and ongoing discourse around common interests.  Thus, third places can play an important role in fostering community well-being, where members a) know and interact with each other, b) have a feeling of belonging and affection toward the community that motivates their sense of responsibility, and c) can work together effectively toward common goals.  Much like brick and mortar third places, communication systems may also play a central role in helping local communities grow by providing channels for serendipitous interaction, discourse, and collaboration with a wider and more asynchronous reach than found in purely face-to-face environments.

In the past decade – with the advent of big data and participatory social media–one of the most striking transformations in people’s everyday experiences is the extent which their use of technology reaches beyond the home and the enterprise into the town square.  However, most current socio-technical systems are not optimized for social productivity in these public spheres, but rather for first places (the home), or second places (work).   My research seeks to imagine a future where third sphere socio-technical systems are optimized both for learning more about ourselves as a society through large scale data analysis, and for supporting large-scale social productivity and collective action.

Faceted Identity

An important related line of work is how do we help people seamlessly negotiate participation across different roles and identities, from home, to work, to public civic spheres.  How we perform our identities is largely based on social context or audience.  However current social systems, generally optimized for specific social spheres (home, work), foster context collapse.  In other words, people are awkwardly performing one identity across many audiences.  With this research I am exploring how can we design socio-technical systems to better enable appropriate identity management across our ever changing social contexts, in part through analyses that are responsive to fluctuating communication practices across contexts.

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