email: jburrell at berkeley dot edu
full CV: PDF – updated March 2023
Bio: Jenna Burrell is the Director of Research at Data & Society and formerly a Professor at the School of Information at UC Berkeley. She oversees all aspects of the research program at Data & Society, ensuring rigor and integrity. Her own research focuses on how historically and systematically marginalized communities adapt digital technologies to meet their needs and to pursue their goals and ideals. At UC-Berkeley she cofounded the Algorithmic Fairness and Opacity Group with Prof. Deirdre Mulligan which continues to bring together faculty and students from across the UC-Berkeley campus to facilitate research on how algorithmic systems can be designed, used, or regulated to support more equitable and just societies. Burrell is the author of Invisible Users: Youth in the Internet Cafes of Urban Ghana (The MIT Press). These days she spends a lot of time thinking about ways of protecting human control and autonomy in the wake of artificial intelligence and the possibilities for democratizing tech. She earned a PhD in Sociology from the London School of Economics and a BA in Computer Science from Cornell University.
Affiliations: Center for African Studies and Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society
Press Coverage / Blog Contributions:
Opinion | It’s time to challenge the narrative about ChatGPT and the future of journalism – opinion piece
Data & Society’s Jenna Burrell thinks we’re worrying about the wrong things about chatbots
Facebook moderation: Is AI really working? – quoted
No, the AI chatbots (still) aren’t sentient – quoted
Big Tech Is Coming to Small-Town America, But There’s a Catch – quoted in this article on Time.com
Post on the Network Sovereignty blog at MIT — “Are rural data center jobs ‘good’ jobs?”
Future Historians Probably Won’t Understand Our Internet, and That’s Okay:
Archivists are working to document our chaotic, opaque, algorithmically complex world—and in many cases, they simply can’t – the Atlantic, referencing my paper on opacity in machine learning algorithms
NPR/Youth Radio: Summer camp where kids interact virtually.
NPR Marketplace: Making a smartphone for just $25.
Online, some are more equal than others: Much is made of the internet being a level playing field. Tell that to the kids in Ghana. – coverage of Invisible Users in The Guardian.
ICTD at the University of California Berkeley, interview for Crossroads: The ACM Magazine for Students. Volume 19, No. 2.
Hotseat: Jenna Burrell, A Portlander researches African internet scams—by actually going to interview the scammers in Ghana., Willamette Week, November 2012, Q&A about studying scammers.
Blatancy and latency: Why internet scams seem so obvious, The Economist, June 2012, brief mention of work on scamming.
Nokia Sets Sights on Developing World, Technology Review, May/June 2011 issue, brief comment on ethnographic work in this context
The Representation of Ghana, May 2, 2011, commenting on the ‘sakawa’ (Internet scamming) phenomenon in Ghana and a recent documentary’s misrepresentation of it – for the blog ‘Africa is a Country’
Professor Receives Grant for Research on Technology in Developing Countries, October 22, 2010, article in the independent student newspaper on NSF grant.
Voice of America News: Digital Frontiers, August 24, 2010, speaking about rumor in the digital age with Host Doug Bernard
City Visions (KALW 91.7), December 7, 2009, “The Sustainable Network: Using the power of the global network to tackle today’s most pressing economic, environmental and social issues” Host Lauren Meltzer
BoingBoing, April 17, 2009, “Can new underwater cables finally connect Africa?” By Lisa Katayama (commenting on East Africa’s Seacom submarine cable)