About me

I am a freelance writer, researcher and speaker, and the author of Work Smarter with Social Media: A Guide to Managing Evernote, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Your Email (Harvard Business Review Press, 2015). My work helps people and organizations cope with the transition to a digital world by tackling everything from the business and social impact of big-picture trends like the emergence of the collaborative economy, to the nitty-gritty of making productive use of digital tools.

I am a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal, The Harvard Business Review and The Christian Science Monitor’s Passcode, and the digital columnist for JSTOR Daily.  My writing on technology issues has appeared in media outlets like Macworld, Oprah.com, The Atlantic.com, The Toronto Star, CBC Radio, Business 2.0, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. I am a frequent commentator on tech stories, appearing regularly in broadcast and print to talk about the business of tech, the latest digital scandals or the drama of managing kids’ screen time.

My perspective on the tech world is informed by my experience as a web strategist and by my research background. I am the former Vice President of Social Media at Vision Critical, a customer intelligence software provider, where I worked with the company’s F1000 customers to develop innovative approaches to social media research and to deliver groundbreaking reports like Sharing is the New Buying and What Social Media Analytics Can’t Tell You About Your Customers. 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.

My work online

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.

The personal stuff

I live in Vancouver, Canada with my husband and favorite cartoonist, Rob Cottingham. We have two kids, who are known online as Sweetie and Peanut. You can reach me as @awsamuel on Twitter or via e-mail as alex@alexandrasamuel.com. More contact details are on the contact page.

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