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About Alexandra Samuel

I am the Vice President of Social Media at Vision Critical, a research technology provider that works with more than 600 organizations worldwide, include a third of the top 100 brands. Here and on my blog at Harvard Business Review, I write about how social media is transforming our politics, our work and our personal lives.

My writing on technology issues has appeared in media outlets like the Toronto Star, CBC Radio, Business 2.0, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. This web site is my primary blog and also gathers together my blogging, publishing and academic work from multiple sites.

My writing on social media is informed by my experience as a web strategist and by my research background. Before joining Vision Critical, I was the Director of the Social + Interactive Media Centre at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, where I worked on applied research challenges with BC-based companies. As the founder and principal with Social Signal, one of the world’s first social media agencies, I have shaped the online strategy for a wide range of online community projects, including Tyze, Change Everything and NetSquared. This work builds on my consulting, research and writing on online community and civic participation by harnessing the latest generation of web tools — tools like blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and RSS — to the challenge of community engagement.

I hold a B.A. from Oberlin College and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University, where my dissertation examined the phenomenon of hacktivism — politically motivated computer hacking — as a window on political participation. I interviewed more than fifty programmers and activists worldwide, tracking their motivations for participating in projects ranging from circumventing China’s online censorship scheme to creating a parody of the WTO web site at http://www.gatt.org.

I’m passionate about the Internet’s potential as a tool for community-building and have been fortunate to work with some of the most innovative thinkers on the transformative potential of the web. I was a member of the advisory board for DotOrganize, a project that has mapped the non-profit sector’s technology needs. As the Research Director for Digital 4Sight’s Governance in the Digital Economy, I worked with Don Tapscott to create and guide an investigation into the future of government and democracy for a consortium of twenty governments and businesses from around the world. I researched online social capital for Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone, which charted to decline (and future potential) of American social capital.

I live in Vancouver, Canada with my husband and Social Signal partner, Rob Cottingham, and our two kids. You can reach me as @awsamuel on Twitter or via e-mail as alex[at]alexandrasamuel[dot]com. More contact details are on the contact page.

First posted on January 16,2010