I'm Stephen Yang,
a media and AI researcher
Social Scientist ◦ Public Interest Technologist ◦ Ph.D Researcher at the University of Southern California

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Who's Stephen?
I'm Stephen Yang, I use humanistic, social scientific, and design-futuring approaches to research the intersection of technology and society. I explore questions of human subjectivities in human-technology partnerships as they relate to speed and scale.

I'm a PhD student at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, where I'm supported by the National Science Foundation's NSF GRFP Graduate Research Fellowship. I also work as an expert consultant for Partnership on AI on the topic of Inclusive AI.

Here, you can learn more about my research projects, look up my publications, or read about my reflections on my professional experiences.

I’m always open to new connections, collaborations, and potential opportunities. Feel free to follow me on Twitter or reach out to me at stepheny [at] usc [dot] edu.
Current research
Broadly, I explore questions of human subjectivities in human-technology partnerships. I research how people (1) make sense of technological changes and (2) participate in the future-making of technologies. Currently, I have my eye on speed and scale as they relate to cultures of AI:

(1) How do cultural workers make sense of the speeding up of content creation?
From smart design templates, automated audio mastering, to new generative AI tools, emerging technologies set to speed up content creation. Amidst such shifts, I study how cultural workers navigate the desired role of automation, authenticity, and the sociotechnical assemblage for such configuration. To this end, my research projects span the realms of social media content creation, music production, and filmmaking.

(2) How can people meaningfully participate in shaping our futures at the scale of AI?
Moving beyond the consensus that people should participate in shaping our futures with AI, I explore if and how careful human intervention is possible at the scale of AI. Beyond participation in the form of design workshops, data annotation, or model training, I conceptualize and operationalize new approaches to participatory AI across timescales and beyond project lifecycles.  

My research integrates theories and methods from Sociology, Science and Technology Studies (STS), and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).
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In the past...
Most recently, I was a research intern at the Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research New England, where I studied the social, economic, and organizational logic of content creation with Nancy Baym. You can read about our research here.

In May 2022, I graduated summa cum laude from Cornell University, with a B.S. in Communication and Information Science. I graduated as the Degree Marshal of the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science, a Merrill Presidential Scholar, and a Rawlings Presidential Research Scholar.

Outside of academia, I have worked in journalism and advertising at organizations such as the Taipei Times and Wunderman Thompson.  
Recent Updates
    • November 4, 2022 -  I just presented my project, "“Secrecy as Self-Making: Mobile Media Tactics in Underground Electronic/Dance Music Scenes," at the 23rd annual meeting of the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) in Dublin!
    • September 23, 2022 -  I published an article that synthesizes the social, economic, and organizational logic of content creation on the Social Media Collective blog!
    • May 31, 2022 -  I started my internship at Microsoft Research New England this summer! I'm working with Nancy Baym, Mary Gray, and Tarleton Gillespie at the Social Media Collective.
    • May 28, 2022 -  I graduated summa cum laude from Cornell University as the inaugural Degree Marshal for the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science!
    Diversity and Inclusion
    I'm a queer person of color who was born and raised outside of the United States. As someone who have affiliations with elite institutions, I often sit in between marginality and privilege. To put my commitment to diversity and inclusion in practice, I actively seek ways to reduce barriers to success for those coming from marginalized backgrounds. This often translates to sharing tacit knowledge I acquired from prior experience and from my position of privilege.

    Are you a marginalized person contemplating a research or UX career? Send me an email with any questions you may have at stepheny[at] usc [dot] edu.