Dr Alison  Powell

Dr Alison Powell

Assistant Professor

Department of Media and Communications

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About me

Dr Alison Powell is Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE, where she was inaugural programme director for the MSc Media and Communications (Data and Society). She researches how people’s values influence the way technology is built, and how technological systems in turn change the way we work and live together.

Dr Powell blogs at http://www.alisonpowell.ca and contributes occasional thoughts on Internet freedom and openness to the LSE Media Policy Project blog. Outside of academia she plays the violin, trains in circus arts, and gets obsessed about her garden. 

Expertise

technological citizenship; ethics and values in technology design; 'smart cities'; algorithmic culture; and transparency and accountability of algorithmic systems; tech culture; hacker culture; and tech activism

Education

Dr Powell has a Bachelor’s degree in Canadian Literature, training in Science and Technology Studies and critical theory, and many years of field experience working with technical cultures. Her PhD (2008) is from Concordia University’s Communication Studies Programme. She integrates these different perspectives to investigate the social significance of how we build communication technologies, and to provide concrete recommendations for policy and practice based on my empirical research.

Research

Dr Powell is currently working on a book about technological citizenship and governance in data cities and Internet of Things-enabled ‘sensing cities’ and working on several projects related to citizenship, cities, data and ethics. This work tries to understand the discourses, practices and governance structures that are part of our society’s orientation towards data.

Her past research projects have looked at community wireless networking and its policy impact, digital rights activism in comparative perspective (including Net Neutrality and the opposition to SOPA and ACTA legislation) and the expansion of open source, DIY and hacking culture from software to hardware to open science. She also often delivers lectures on the civic and governance implications of smart cities and Internet of Things technology projects.

Current research projects

Dr Powell is currently lead LSE investigator on the projects Values and Ethics in Innovation for Responsible Technology in Europe (VirtEU), funded by the EU H2020 programme; and Understanding Automated Decisions, funded by the Open Society Foundations.

Research associations

Dr Powell was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute from 2008 to 2010, where she worked on digital rights and internet governance issues. From 2011-2014 she was a member of the European Network of Excellence in Internet Science. In this project she studied open source hardware licensing and governance.

She is an associated researcher with the artistic research project Museum of Contemporary Commodities, where she has investigated data commodities and everyday life in cities.

She is a member of the Digital Policy Alliance working group on the Internet of Things and a member of the BSI standards-setting body on the Internet of Things.

Collaboration interests

Dr Powell is currently interested in projects and partnerships that investigate how to build ethical, reflexive Internet of Things systems, and projects that help reshape how data can be used by citizens for civic or community interest.

Publications

Teaching and supervision

Postgraduate teaching

Dr Powell is programme director for the MSc Media and Communications (Data and Society), and convenes and teaches on the postgraduate courses Digital Media Futures and Data in Communication and Society.

She has also contributed lectures to team-taught postgraduate Media and Communications courses relating to theories and concepts (MC408/MC418) and research methodologies (MC4M1/MC4M2).

 

Doctoral supervision

Dr Powell supervises doctoral researchers and welcomes applications from prospective students relating to her areas of research. She currently co-supervises Sebastian LehuedeJoão Carlos Magalhães and Svetlana Smirnova.