I am passionate about making organizations human-centric.

I'm a global tech ethnographer. I co-founded PL Data, a start-up that designs human-centered research systems by integrating data science and social science. 

With more than 15 years’ experience working with designers, engineers, and scientists, I have a particular interest in designing human-centered systems. I advise corporations and startups on using Thick Data--quantitative, ethnographic research methods that uncover emotions, stories, and meaning--to improve strategy, policy, products, and services. Organisations I have worked with include P&G, Nokia, GE, Kickstarter, the United Nations and NASA.

Through extensive fieldwork in China and Mexico as a Fulbright Fellow and National Science Foundation Fellow, I have developed expertise on digital communities, leading to the formulation of an innovative sociological framework for understanding online behavior, The Elastic Self. I'm also cofounder of Ethnography Matters, the leading blogs for ethnographic community, which covers how ethnographers, designers, programmers, engineers are using ethnographic approaches. Along with my consulting work, I am also a visiting scholar at New York University's Interactive Telecommunication Program and a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet Studies. I am currently in-residence at IDEO in Shanghai, China.


I love speaking to organizations about Big Data, Thick Data, social media, innovation, and China (for speaking inquiries, please contact Leigh Bureau). I am the proud owner of an internet famous dog, #ellethedog.

Updates: Giving a talk on Feb. 18, 2014 at Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University / Transcript to my opening keynote EPIC 2013 / Video of "Elastic Self" &  "Designing for Trust" talk in Sweden / Article on why Big Data Needs Thick Data / Fast Company interview with me & slideshow of my fieldwork / comment on Clive Thompson's Wired article on Weixin / Wired UK article on Transparency in China 

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