The Web Ecology Project is an interdisciplinary research group based in Boston, Massachusetts focusing on using large scale data mining to analyze the system-wide flows of culture and community online. In addition to the task of understanding culture on the web through quantitative research and rigorous experimentation, we are attempting to build a science around community
management and social media. To that end, we are building tools and conducting research that enable planners to launch data-driven campaigns backed by network science.

Web Ecology Project Team

Jon Beilin is a Lead Researcher and Developer for the Web Ecology Project. He is an alumnus of Dartmouth College with a BA in Ancient History. He’s fascinated by different modes of individual and collective human expression, critical/social theory, and ethics. His work can be found at

Evan Burchard has supported the researchers in the Web Ecology Project by providing sustainable code, agile inspired technical leadership, and data visualizations. He is also a founding micro-trustee of the Awesome Foundation. He tweets @evanburchard and puts his code (mostly ruby/rails) on He plans to beat somewhere between 3 and 10 Super Famicom rpgs in Japanese in 2010, starting with Mother 2.

David Fisher is Director of Technology Initiatives for the Web Ecology Project, and also the director of marketing and public relations for imVOX. He is an alumni of the Berklee College of Music studying Music Business Management, a micro-trustee in the Awesome Foundation and a longtime member at betahouse. He enjoys coding in Ruby, playing guitar, motorcycles and DIY projects. He goes by ‘Tibbon’ online.

Devin Gaffney is Co-Director of the Web Ecology Project, and comes from a strong background in programming as well as academic research in internet studies, particularly focused on online activism, or phenomena similar to the #iranElection protests written about in June 2009. He graduated with a B.A. from Bennington College in 2010, where he ended up focusing on an in-depth analysis of Twitter data created during the 2009 Iran Election. At the Web Ecology Project, he has taken a primary role in the coding and creation of WEP software packages, most notably 140kit. When he is not building fun things for WEP, he is at @DGaff, and works at Instrument in Portland, Oregon.

Sam Gilbert is Research Coordinator for the Web Ecology Project, in addition to being a researcher for the GoodPlay Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education–a MacArthur Foundation-funded study that examines how 15-25-year-olds think about and deal with ethical issues they encounter online. He received a BA in 2007 from Harvard, where he researched interactions between the design and behavioral norms of social networks. He occasionally tweets @sam1vp, and dabbles in home-brewing, mixology and molecular gastronomy for his dinner guests.

Erhardt Graeff is a Lead Researcher and Developer for the Web Ecology Project. In addition to researching social media, he has studied rural internet use and social capital, digital divides, e-government, networked public spheres, and new media literacy. Erhardt has an MPhil in Modern Society and Global Transformations from Cambridge University and bachelor’s degrees in information technology and international studies from RIT. Beyond the Web Ecology Project, he is the Director of Technology and Strategy and co-Founder of BetterGrads, an organization that connects high school students to college life resources and mentors, a research assistant with The GoodPlay Project within Harvard Project Zero, and a former research assistant at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, studying OER and the political economy of the textbook industry. He maintains the eponymous website and is on Twitter: @erhardt.

Tim Hwang is the Director of the Web Ecology Project and an analyst with The Barbarian Group — where he works on issues of group dynamics and web influence. He is interested in building a science around measuring the system-wide flows of content and patterns of community formation online. He is also the founder of ROFLCon, a series of conferences celebrating and examining internet culture and celebrity. He currently Twitters @timhwang, blogs at BrosephStalin, and is in the process of watching every homemade flamethrower video on YouTube.

Elsa Kim is a Lead Researcher for the Web Ecology Project. She is excited to be developing methodological toolkits for studying emotion, motivation, and personality via online interactions. Before joining WEP she reported for the East Bay Express and worked as a creative for Digitas, an interactive advertising agency. Aside from indulging her curiosity through research, she enjoys eating, bicycling to a beach, or hip-hop dancing. She received her B.A. from Harvard College where she studied social science and conceptions of the self. Currently she lives and works in Boston and is always thrilled to learn about new ideas. Her past projects are available at

Alex Leavitt is a Lead Researcher for the Web Ecology Project. His interests include geographical, linguistic, and transnational subcultures; the hybridization of popular culture and online humor; and the emergent cultural practices of (un)controlled online social networks. After graduating from Boston University with a degree in English and Japanese, Alex now works as a research specialist with the Convergence Culture Consortium in the Comparative Media Studies department at MIT, and has previously worked with the Digital Natives Project at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society (Harvard Law School). In addition to his weekly articles on the Convergence Culture blog, Alex writes long-form about Japanese popular culture at The Department of Alchemy and short-form on Twitter (@alexleavitt).

Dharmishta Rood is Director of Research Relations at the Web Ecology Project and also an RA at the Berkman Center working on Herdict. Her work deals with large scale and interpersonal communication systems like social networks and news, and how users find value in content. She is a 2008 Knight News Challenge winner for Populous Project, a free and open-source platform for online news. In addition to receiving her masters this year from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, she holds a degree in Design | Media Arts from UCLA and is a Fellow at the Center for Future Civic Media. She tweets @dharmishta and blogs at

Sara Marie Watson is a Lead Researcher for the Web Ecology Project. She also works at Brightcove, the leading online video platform where she manages their inbound marketing content strategy. She previously researched and wrote for a Fortune 500 CIO audience as a technology analyst at The Research Board, a subsidiary of Gartner, Inc. She is interested in society’s understanding of its relationship to technologies and infrastructures, and also enjoys exploring media in transition. She graduated from Harvard College with a joint degree in English and American Literature and Film Studies. She tweets @smwat, and her online footprint aggregates at

Seth Woodworth is Business Manager and Developer for the Web Ecology Project. His interest is in how Web Ecology’s work relates to consensus generation and how it differs from journalism. Among other things, Seth is the systems administrator at Web Ecology, managing deployed software, working on software development, and overseeing data collection, using Free Software. Seth is an advocate for Free Software and Free Culture. Some of his recent projects include: open content and community for One Laptop per Child, internet research at the Berkman Center, recording audiobooks, advising education technology projects and professional swordfighting. He tweets @sethish and keeps the rest of his internet ephemera at