I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Information School at the University of Michigan. I was previously at the Department of Communication Studies at Northwestern University and completed my PhD in Communication at the University of Washington. I am a computational social scientist who studies online collective action in projects like Wikipedia, online communities like Reddit, and social movements. Here is a link to my CV.
An important and serious methodological problem affects a huge range of research in computational social science: When you use a machine learning algorithm to automatically classify a variable, and then you use that variable as an input to a statistical procedure such as a regression, the errors and biases of the algorithm contaminate the downstream analysis. Predictiveness metrics such as precision and recall do not guarantee validity. My article forthcoming in Communication Methods and Measures with Dr. Valarie Hase and Dr. Chun-Hong Chan shows that statistical methods can use validation data to correct the downstream analysis. Try out the R package.
Many people invoke “ecosystem” as metaphor to emphasize complexity and interdependence in communication systems like the Internet. However, there is also a huge natural science called “ecology” which successfully learns about biological ecosystems. Organizational sociologists and communication scientists have already appropriated theories, models and methods from ecology to understand interdependence between human organizations like firms and social movements. I draw both from these social science literatures and from bio-ecology to understand how environmental contexts and interdependence between online communities shapes their growth, survival and organizing processes.
In my ICWSM 2022 paper with Benjamin Mako Hill, I use time series analysis to infer when overlapping online communities hosted on Reddit are competitors or mutualists and find that mutualism is much more common than competition. To help explain why overlapping communities are often mutualists, my collaborators and I interviewed members of these overlapping online communities. As described in our CSCW 2022 paper, people seek different types of benefits from online communities such as a like-minded community, specific information and an audience for their content. Tensions between the different benefits mean that "no community can do everything," but one can obtain a greater range of benefits from a portfolio of overlapping communities.
My research also investigates quality control and machine learning systems in peer production. My paper published in CHI 2017 with Aaron Shaw and Benjamin Mako Hill shows that quality control systems often become increasingly hostile to newcomers and difficult to change over time. These mechanisms, which limit Wikipedia's growth and diversity, are common in a range of digitally mediated forms of organizing. Online organizations increasingly use data science methods as a part of their quality control systems. In my CSCW 2021 paper with Benjamin Mako Hill and Aaron Halfaker, I used a regression discontinuity analysis to evaluate how algorithms for flagging encyclopedia edits shape the fairness of Wikipedia moderation. I also introduce an improved machine learning method for measuring Wikipedia article quality in my OpenSym 2021 paper .
My academic work has received generous support from the National Science Foundation through the Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) and through the cyber-human systems program.
In the past, I worked at Microsoft where I developed search suggestions for Bing multimedia and as a technician at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) where I measured foaming molten glass as part of a project to store nuclear waste. I went to college at Whitworth University where I received a double-B.S. in Mathematics and Computer Science in 2012.
Nathan TeBlunthuis, Valerie Hase, Chung-Hong Chan
Nathan TeBlunthuis, Benjamin Mako Hill
Nathan TeBlunthuis, Charles Kiene, Isabella Brown, Laura (Alia) Levi, Nicole McGinnis, Benjamin Mako Hill
Nathan TeBlunthuis, Benjamin Mako Hill, Aaron Halfaker
Nathan TeBlunthuis, Tilman Bayer, Olga Vasileva
Proc. of the 15th International Symposium on Open Collaboration — OpenSym 2019 [ACM DL]
Sneha Narayan, Nathan TeBlunthuis, Wm Salt Hale, Benjamin Mako Hill, and Aaron Shaw
Proceedings of the ACM: Human-Computer Interaction — CSCW 2019 [ACM DL]
Nathan TeBlunthuis, Aaron Shaw, Benjamin Mako Hill
Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems — CHI 2018 [ACM DL]
Tim Weninger, Marina Danilevsky, Fabio Fumarola, Joshua Hailpern, Jiawei Han, Thomas J Johntson, Surya Kallumadi, Hyungsul Kim, Zhijin Li, David McCloskey, Yizhou Sun, Nathan E TeGrotenhuis, Chi Wang, Xiao Yu
ACM SIGMOD International Conference on Management of data — SIGMOD 2011 [ACM DL]
Pavel Hrma, José Marcial, Kevin J Swearingen, Samuel H Henager, Michael J Schweiger, Nathan E TeGrotenhuis
Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids — 2010 [ScienceDirect]
Michael J Schweiger, Pavel Hrma, Carissa J Humrickhouse, José Marcial, Brian J Riley, Nathan E TeGrotenhuis.
Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids — 2010 [ScienceDirect]
Pavel Hrma, Michael J Schweiger, Carissa J Humrickhouse, J Adam Moody, Rachel M Tate, Timothy T Rainsdon, Nathan E Tegrotenhuis, Benjamin M Arrigoni, Jose Marcial, Carmen P Rodriguez, Benjamin H Tincher.
Ceramics-Silikaty — 2010 [Ceramics Silikaty]
Nathan TeBlunthuis, Aaron Shaw, and Benjamin Mako Hill
Companion of the 2017 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing — CSCW ’17 Companion [ACM DL ]
Nathan TeBlunthuis, Andrea Ceron (Ed.)
Encyclopedia of Technology & Politics — Edward Elgar Publishing — 2022 [preprint pdf ]
Online communities are central parts of each of our daily lives and have an important impact on our cultural, social, and economic experience of the world and each other. This course combines an in-depth look into several decades of research into online communities and computer-mediated communication with exercises that aim to give students experience applying this research to the evaluation of, and hands-on participation in, online communities.
University of Washington. Winter 2021, Spring 2019 [Sample syllabus]