My name is Alex Leavitt, and I'm a social scientist and internet researcher. I live in Los Angeles.

Currently, I'm pursuing a PhD in the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California, where I'm advised by Henry Jenkins and Dmitri Williams.

Previously, I worked with danah boyd at Microsoft Research New England. Before that, I was a researcher in the Comparative Media Studies department at MIT, where I worked on the Convergence Culture Consortium project.

More recently, I have been part of a number of data science and user experience research teams with a handful of major media and analytics companies, like Sony Playstation, Disney Interactive, and SocialFlow.

My research has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and the Huffington Post.


Email me at alexleavitt [at] gmail [dot] com.

Follow me on Twitter at @alexleavitt.


Curriculum Vitae (CV) [last updated 10 April 2014]



Hi-res Photo (front)


Academic Papers


White Papers

Web Ecology Project
MIT Convergence Culture Consortium


These are various projects that I have worked on in the past with a handful of really awesome colleagues.

Web Ecology Project
Students for Free Culture

Research Overview

Digital Culture & Computational Ethnography

My research focuses on networked participation in technologically-mediated social spaces. I am particularly interested in how social media sites facilitate user-generated content production, social network formation, information sharing practices, and collaboration. I also do work around cultural and social capital within online communities, specifically how the creation of media and information impacts cultural dynamics within these systems, usually involving youth.

Previously, I researched transmedia franchises and developments within the creative industries across the globe, especially their reactions to changing technologies and shifting social norms of active audiences. In my spare time, I extend my research to Japanese popular culture and its global audiences.

Social Science & Digital Data-Driven Methods

In my work, I combine ethnographic methods with large-scale digital data analysis to investigate social traces in social media systems. I like to pursue mixed methods research involving both interpretive and analytical approaches and, I am testing new methodologies for using digital data to look at everyday information practices that emerge from people's interactions with technology. Recently, I have been experimenting with data processing involving social network analysis, machine learning, and high performance computational resources.

Research Teams

I am a member of numerous research groups at USC:

Research Projects

Current Projects

Recent Projects

  • Citizens journalism and news production around events, examining Hurricane Sandy's reporting on Reddit.com. [PDF]
  • Potential for Japanese media fan networks to move political messages (in particular around Tokyo's 2010 Healthy Youth Ordinance) and how social media platforms affect social norms around distribution of fan-created works, with Andrea Horbinski. [HTML] [PDF]
  • Cultural logic of children's social network use in relation to the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), with danah boyd. [HTML]
  • Effects of social media platforms on the adoption and spread of pro-self-harm information practices among youth, with danah boyd. [PDF]
  • Review of fan-created website on history of online Japanese comic translation [HTML][PDF]