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 studies in the Digital Sociology Master of Science program 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.
Ryan’s research applies informed and enthusiastic consent principles to issues of digital surveillance, privacy, and data ethics and ownership within higher education. 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. Do faculty think about how the surveillance state disproportionately impacts students of color when conceptualizing public-facing class activities? Are administrators considering and prioritizing the needs of those most at risk (e.g. undocumented students) when developing data collection and retention policies? Do information and academic technology groups thoroughly (and regularly, not just at the point of purchase) vet the data-related policies and practices of third-party companies, divesting when necessary? Ryan’s goal is to develop a more critical, feminist approach to data within higher education, instead of continuing to follow Silicon Valley’s lead. As Audrey Watters puts it, we need to be less pigeon. For more information, see “Why digital sociology?“