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Ben Zefeng Zhang

I am a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan School of Information (UMSI), co-advised by Dr. Oliver Haimson and Dr. Michaelanne Thomas, and a research fellow at the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society

I use ethnographic methods to study the interplay between labor, identity, mobility, and infrastructure in transnational contexts informed by the fields of HCI (Human-computer interaction),  Science and Technology Studies (STS) and ICTD (Information Communication Technologies & Development). ​


Currently, I am conducting multi-sited ethnographic research for my dissertation with communities both in China and transnationally. It explores the sociotechnical, cultural, and economic dimensions of data production and data marketplaces in the context of large-scale data infrastructures and ways to improve technology design and policy for digitally-mediated labor communities.


My work has appeared at venues including ACM CSCW CHI, AAAI ICWSM, Social Media + Society, 4S, and AoIR. I have received fellowships from the Rackham Graduate School, the International Institute, the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan, and the Weizenbaum Institute


Before graduate school, I worked for a few years as a journalist and photographer. I enjoy cycling, swimming, running, yoga, and scuba diving. Please feel free to contact me directly.

Research areas:

  • Human-Computer Interaction and Social Computing

  • Science, Technology, and Society (STS)

  • Information Communication Technologies & Development (ICTD)

  • Labor, Mobility, and Infrastructure

  • AI production and data marketplace

  • ​Platform and data governance

Recent News:

Papers accepted for AoIR2024

I have two papers accepted for AoIR 2024: “Conceptualizing Precision Labor in Artificial Intelligence Training,” a paper co-authored with Tianling Yang, Oliver Haimson, and Michaelanne Thomas, and "The Technopolitics of Waiting: Case Studies of AI Training in China and Homeless Services Systems in the U.S.," a paper I co-first-authored with Pelle Tracey and co-authored with with Patricia Garcia, Oliver Haimson, and Michaelanne Thomas. May 6, 2024

Presenting at Weizenbaum Institute and DiPLab

I presented my Weizenbaum fellowship project, "Turning Data into Assets: Labor, Infrastructure, and Policy in China’s Emerging Data Ecosystems," with my wonderful collaborator Tianling Yang at the Weizenbaum Institute and DiPLab. Very thankful for Dr.  Milagros Miceli's supervision and support on this work. April 24, 2024

Paper accepted for ICWSM 202​4 

"Landscape of Large Language Models in Global English News: Topics, Sentiments, and Spatiotemporal Analysis," a paper I co-authored with Lu Xian, Lingyao Li, Yiwei Xu, and Libby Hemphill, has been accepted by ICWSM 2024March 15, 2024

Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship

I am really honored to be selected to receive the prestigious  Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship at the University of Michigan to support my dissertation! March 8, 2024

Paper accepted for CSCW 202​4 

"'I'm Constantly in This Dilemma': How Migrant Technology Professionals Perceive Social Media Recommendation Algorithms,"  a paper I co-first-authored with Cassidy Pyle and co-authored with Oliver Haimson and Nazanin Andalib, has been accepted by CSCW 2024December 10, 2023

View archived news items here.

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