About Us

We use ethnography at the intersection of online and offline spaces to identify new solutions to old problems.

The phenomenal growth of online communities, new forms of leisure, social networking, and collaborative creativity in recent years has been facilitated in part by digital tools, but equally through social dynamics that build trust, rapport, and shared commitments. CCI operates as a team of ethnographers who use participant-observation fieldwork to examine the workings of these communities.

What forms do successful communities take? What is the interplay between technological tools and collaborative creativity? How do such communities emerge, take shape, and evolve? We believe ethnography will illuminate the meaning and values of these communities in ways that mining data through algorithms alone cannot. Culture, politics and business are clearly changing as online communities become centers of production and political participation in their own right, challenging the power structures of traditional corporations and governmental institutions.

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CCI is a team of professional ethnographers and student researchers from
MIT's Comparative Media Studies program.
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Principal Investigator
Ian is an anthropologist who studies Japanese pop culture and how cultural movements go global (e.g., anime and hip-hop).
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TL is a sociologist studying the interrelations between culture, social practice, and technology in online leisure environments.
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Research Assistant
Lilia as a writer and ethnographer interested in what we can learn about politics, sexual politics especially, by attending closely to individual histories and visual/sonic media.
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Research Assistant
Lacey is a second year master’s student interested in digital storytelling and the audiences who consume them. Her thesis work is a multi-sensory exploration of tablet-based digital comics.
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Nathan Saucier

Research Assistant
Nate is a filmmaker and educator currently studying identity construction and visual semiotics in virtual reality and 360 video.
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George Tsiveriotis

Research Assistant
George is a first-year masters student interested in online identity representation and the values embedded in social and participatory media.
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Karleigh Moore

UROP Assistant
Karleigh is an MIT undergrad in Comparative Media Studies and Computer Science who is fascinated by the intersection of the humanities and computation.



Researching the emerging world of game live-streaming.


Examining the ways in which music can provide insights into the creation of more inclusive forms of capitalism.


Developing a network of scholars, activists, and artists aiming to tackle inequality with a focus on bottom-up solutions.

Tag Culture on Tumblr

Gathering and analyzing Tumblr tag data to gain insight into “Tag Culture,” the way fans use tags to build communities and construct spaces for discourse.

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