Originally from outside Jacksonville Florida, Ryan (he / they) is a queer and trans feminist, educator, and activist. By day he works as an academic technologist at the University of Richmond; by night he masquerades as a sociology graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Ryan’s work focuses on a critical, cross-disciplinary approach to technology. The first question is never which technology to use, but whether technology is necessary at all. Having supported almost every discipline, he wishes scientists would recognize language teachers have been “flipping” their classrooms since the dawn of time and digital humanists would see their “new” approaches to analysis and public research are not very different from the longstanding daily practices of (especially social) scientists. Also, everyone should take a moment to reward librarians, the real heroes.
As part of the Digital Sociology Master of Science program at VCU, Ryan researches how higher education’s technology decision-making and infrastructure impact marginalized students. EDUCAUSE reported in May 2017 that 84% of information security leaders are White, while in 2012, students of color made up more than 40% of the 18-24 year old college population. Are decisions implemented by the former guarding against the unique challenges faced by the latter? Do faculty account for how women of color and visibly queer people are treated online when they conceptualize public research activities? What additional burdens are we placing on disabled students when we use emerging technologies inaccessible to them? Ryan’s goal is to help IT groups and academic technologists be more skeptical and critical of technology, instead of just following Silicon Valley’s lead. As Audrey Watters puts it, we need to be less pigeon. For more information, see “Why digital sociology?“