Director, Knowledge Lab; Professor, Sociology, University of Chicago; Senior Fellow, Computation Institute; Faculty Director, Masters Program in Computational Social Sciences
James A. Evans
I am Director of Knowledge Lab, Director of the Computational Social Science program, Senior Fellow at the Computation Institute, professor of Sociology and the College, and member of the Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science at the University of Chicago. My research focuses on the collective system of thinking and knowing, ranging from the distribution of attention and intuition, the origin of ideas and shared habits of reasoning to processes of agreement (and dispute), accumulation of certainty (and doubt), and the texture--novelty, ambiguity, topology--of human understanding. I am especially interested in innovation--how new ideas and technologies emerge--and the role that social and technical institutions (e.g., the Internet, markets, collaborations) play in collective cognition and discovery. Much of my work has focused on areas of modern science and technology, but I am also interested in other domains of knowledge--news, law, religion, gossip, hunches and historical modes of thinking and knowing. I support the creation of novel observatories for human understanding and action through crowd sourcing, information extraction from text and images, and the use of distributed sensors (e.g., RFID tags, cell phones). I use machine learning, generative modeling, social and semantic network representations to explore knowledge processes, scale up interpretive and field-methods, and create alternatives to current discovery regimes. My research is funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, DARPA, Facebook, IBM, Jump! Trading and other sources, and has been published in Science, PNAS, American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Social Studies of Science, Administrative Science Quarterly, PLoS Computational Biology and other journals. My work has been featured in Nature, the Economist, Atlantic Monthly, Wired, NPR, BBC, El País, CNN and many other outlets.
At Chicago, I sponsor the Computational Social Science workshop (with John Padgett). I teach courses in on augmented intelligence, computational content analysis, the history of modern science, science studies, and Internet and Society. Before Chicago, I received my doctorate in sociology from Stanford University, served as a research associate in the Negotiation, Organizations, and Markets group at Harvard Business School, started a private high school focused on project-based arts education, and completed a B. A. in Anthropology and Economics at Brigham Young University. In the course of these events, I married Jeannie Evans and we now have four (fabulous) children, Noah, Ruth, Anna and Kate.