Shelly D. Farnham
search externally:   Google Scholar,   Springer,   CiteSeer,   Microsoft Academic Search,   Scirus ,   DBlife


Biographical Statement

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, as a research scientist I have worked primarily in industry research focusing on innovation in social technologies, including social networking, match-making, online communities, and mobile social coordination. 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 usage analysis, online questionnaires, lab studies, and ethnographic observation.

I received my Ph.D. in Social Psychology at the University of Washington in 1999, and then spent seven years prototyping and evaluating social technologies as a Researcher at Microsoft Research in the Virtual Worlds, Social Computing, and Community Technologies Groups.

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.

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 continue my research exploring identity and group management in social media systems, and pursue a new interest in enabling informal learning through social media.

See my full CV for a statement of research interests and contributions, work history, publications and patents.


flag An Interest Network for Informal Learning
as author at  Oral Sessions,