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Tarleton Gillespie

Adjunct Associate Professor

Tarleton Gillespie is currently off campus, as a Principal Research at Microsoft Research, New England. He remains an affiliated associate professor in the Department of Communication and the Department of Information Science, with a graduate field appointment in Science & Technology Studies. He received his M.A. (1997) and his Ph.D. (2002) in Communication from the University of California at San Diego.

Research Focus

Prof. Gillespie's research focuses on the ongoing controversies surrounding digital media and commercial providers. His past work examined the move to technical solutions to copyright, their political and cultural implications, and how this move reveals underlying tensions between law, technology, and culture. His new research examines the implications of online media platforms as the new distributors of cultural and political discourse, and the mediating role played by algorithms for public knowledge and discourse.

Outreach and Extension Focus

Prof. Gillespie aims for his research to speak beyond his academic discipline, contributing to policy debates about copyright, new technology, and digital culture as well as offering resources for citizens of that culture to understand and intervene in the complex debates going on around them. Recently this has included giving talks to local PTAs and schools with Profs Sahara Byrne and Jeffrey Hancock on the contemporary relationship between teens and digital information.

Teaching Focus

Prof. Gillespie's courses examine the intersection between media, new technologies, and public life, from an historical and sociological perspective. He aims to spur students to be critical thinkers about the mediascape that surrounds them and the technologies they interact with everyday, urging them to be media-savvy citizens in an information-saturated environment.

Awards and Honors

  • Residential Research Fellow (2012) European Institutes for Advanced Study (EURIAS)

Selected Publications

Journal Publications


  • Gillespie, T. L. (2007). Wired Shut: Copyright and the Shape of Digital Culture. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

Presentations and Activities

  • Toward a Sociology of Algorithms. March 2012. Complex Systems Institute (IXXI), École normale supérieure de Lyon. Lyon, France.