The Best Dissertation Award for 2016 goes to Dr. Eden Litt for her dissertation, “The Imagined Audience: How People Think About Their Audience and Privacy on Social Network Sites.” She filed it June 2015 at Northwestern University, under the direction of Prof. Eszter Hargittai.
Dr. Litt investigates the imagined audiences to whom social media users share their latest updates – whom do they imagine as the audience? What shapes these imagined audiences? Do these imaginings fluctuate each time they post? And do these imaginings relate to other factors, such as what people reveal or conceal? Her research design was creative and ambitious, and she managed to draw from a diverse sample of participants and a range of social network sites to make her claims. Litt’s rigorous study supports important findings, which ultimately sketch an agenda for future research in Internet studies focused on better understanding the intentions and assumptions of social media users in their day-to-day online practices. A readable and well-organized manuscript, Litt’s dissertation is a shining example of excellence in the field today.
The committee also offers an honorable mention to Dr. Anne Helmond. Her dissertation was titled “The Web as Platform: Data Flows in Social Media,” and she filed it September 2015 at the University of Amsterdam, under the direction of Prof. Richard Rogers. Dr. Helmond’s dissertation is notable and stands to make a significant long-term impact in the field.
AoIR is grateful for the hard work by this year’s Best Dissertation Award committee: Daren Brabham (chair), Taina Bucher, Mathias Klang, Anders Larsson, and Sun Sun Lim.