Academic Work

I study collective action in online communities and seek to understand why some attempts at collaborative production — like Wikipedia and Linux — build large volunteer communities while the vast majority never attract even a second contributor. I am particularly interested in how the design of communication and information technologies shape fundamental social outcomes with broad theoretical and practical implications — like the decision to join a community or contribute to a public good. My research is deeply interdisciplinary, consists primarily of "big data" quantitative analyses, and lies at the intersection of communication, human-computer interaction, and sociology.

I am an Acting Assistant Professor in the University of Washington Department of Communication in Seattle. It's an one year arrangement that means I'm effectively my own post-doc. In September 2014, I will become a normal Assistant Professor in the same department. I am also currently a Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and an affiliate of the Institute of Quantitative Social Science at Harvard.

I received my PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in an interdepartmental program involving the MIT Sloan School of Management and the MIT Media Lab. My dissertation research was advised by Eric von Hippel, Yochai Benkler, Tom Malone and Mitch Resnick.

Working Papers

These papers are in various stages of preparation, review, and revision. Please do not cite or quote these papers without my permission. Contact me for copies of any papers that are listed here but are not linked directly from this page.

  • Benkler, Yochai, Aaron Shaw, and Benjamin Mako Hill. Peer production: A modality of collective intelligence. [PDF]
  • Hill, Benjamin Mako. Almost Wikipedia: What eight early online collaborative encyclopedia projects reveal about the mechanisms of collective action. [PDF] [Abstract & Video]
  • Hill, Benjamin Mako, Aaron Shaw and Yochai Benkler. Status, social signalling, and collective action in a peer production community.
  • Hill, Benjamin Mako. Causal effects of a reputation-based incentive in an peer production community.
  • Hill, Benjamin Mako and Aaron Shaw. Is volunteer labor a "fixed and finite" resource? Evidence from peer production.

Refereed Articles

  • Hill, Benjamin Mako, and Aaron Shaw. “Consider the Redirect: A Missing Dimension of Wikipedia Research.” In Proceedings of the 10th International Symposium on Open Collaboration (OpenSym 2014). ACM Press, 2014. [Preprint/Draft PDF] [Data/Software Online Supplement]
  • Shaw, Aaron, and Benjamin Mako Hill. “Laboratories of Oligarchy? How the Iron Law Extends to Peer Production: Laboratories of Oligarchy.” Journal of Communication 64, no. 2 (April 2014): 215–38. doi:10.1111/jcom.12082. [Official Link (Pay-walled)] [Preprint/Draft PDF]
  • Hill, Benjamin Mako and Aaron Shaw. (2013) "The Wikipedia gender gap revisited: Characterizing survey response bias in peer production communities." PLOS ONE, 8-6 (June 26, 2013): doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065782. [Official Link (Open Access)]
  • Hill, Benjamin Mako and Andrés Monroy-Hernández. (2013) "The remixing dilemma: the trade-off between generativity and originality." American Behavioral Scientist. 57-5, Pp. 643—663. DOI: 10.1177/0002764212469359. [Official Link (Pay-walled)] [Preprint/Draft PDF] (Press: Wired UK, Boing Boing)
  • Hill, Benjamin Mako and Andrés Monroy-Hernández. (2013) "The cost of collaboration for code and art: Evidence from a remixing community." Forthcoming in Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW '13). San Antonio, Texas, USA: ACM. Best Paper Award [Official Link (Pay-walled)] [Preprint PDF]
  • Monroy-Hernández, Andrés, Benjamin Mako Hill, Jasmine González-Rivero, danah boyd. (2011). "Computers can't give credit: How automatic attribution falls short in an online remixing community" in Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '11). (Awards: CHI '11 Honorable Mention Award). [Official Link (Pay-walled)] [Preprint HTML, Preprint PDF]
  • Hill, Benjamin Mako. (2010). "Revealing Errors" in Error: Glitch, Noise, and Jam in New Media Cultures edited by Mark Nunes. Continuum. (An expanded version of the 2007 journal article.)
  • Buechley, Leah, Benjamin Mako Hill. (2010). "LilyPad in the Wild: How Hardwareʼs Long Tail is Supporting New Engineering and Design Communities" Proceedings of the Conference on Design of Interactive Systems. Aarhus, Denmark. [PDF]
  • Hill, Benjamin Mako Hill, Andrés Monroy-Hernández, and Kristina Olson. 2010. “Responses to remixing on a social media sharing website.” Pp. 74-81 in Proceedings of the 4th AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media. Washington, D.C.: AAAI. PDF]
  • Hill, Benjamin Mako. 2007. “Revealing Errors.” Media/Culture Journal 10 (Feature Article). [web link]
  • Coleman, Gabriella, and Benjamin Mako Hill. 2004. “How free became open and everything else under the sun.” Media/Culture Journal 7 (Feature Article). [web link]
  • Coleman, Gabriella, and Benjamin Mako Hill. 2004. “The Social Production of Ethics in Debian and Free Software Communities: Anthropological Lessons for Vocational Ethics.” in Free/Open Source Software Development, edited by Stefan Koch. [Page Scans, Book Info]
  • Michlmayr, Martin, and Benjamin Mako Hill. 2003. “Quality and the reliance on individuals in free software projects.” Pp. 105–109 in Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on Open Source Software Engineering. [PDF]

Other Scholarly Publications

  • [Book Chapter]. Hill, Benjamin Mako. (2012). "Freedom for Users, Not For Software." in Wealth of the Commons: Another World Is Possible Beyond Market and State edited by Silke Helfrich and David Bollier, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung. Published in German as Commons: Für eine neue Politik Jenseits von Markt und Staat. [HTML]
  • [Interactive Poster]. Andrés Monroy-Hernández and Benjamin Mako Hill. (2010). Cooperation and Attribution in an Online Community of Young Creators. Computer Supported Coopreative Work (CSCW '10) [Abstract PDF]
  • [Book review] Hill, Benjamin Mako. (2008). "Samir Chopra, Scott D. Dexter, Decoding Liberation: The Promise of Free and Open Source Software." Minds and Machines 18:297-299. [PDF]
  • [S.M. Thesis] Hill, Benjamin Mako. (2007). “Cooperation in Parallel: A Tool for Supporting Collaborative Writing in Diverged Documents.” Masters Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Program in Media Arts and Sciences. Advised by Walter Bender, Chris Csikszentmihályi, and Gabriella Coleman. [PDF]
  • [Review] Hill, Benjamin Mako. (2005). “Reflections on free software past and future.” First Monday 10. [web link]
  • [B.A. Thesis] Hill, Benjamin Mako. (2003). “Literary Collaboration and Control A Socio-Historic, Technological and Legal Analysis.” Undergraduate Thesis, Hampshire College. Advised by James Miller, James Wald, and David Bollier. [web link]

Seminar Presentations

This section only includes information on my academic presentations. I give many presentations to non-academic audiences. These are listed on my talks page.

  • Laboratories of oligarchy? How the iron law extends to peer production.
    • MIT Economic Sociology Working Group. May 8, 2013
    • Harvard Cooperation Group, Berkman Center, Harvard University. April 16, 2013
    • Center for Information Technology Policy, Priceton University. April 11, 2013
    • Online Collective Action Working Group. European Council on Political Research Join Sessions. Mainz, Germany. March 13, 2013.
  • Status, Social Signalling and Collective Action in a Peer Production Community.
    • American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Denver, Colorado. August 17, 2012.
    • Laboratory for Social Research Seminar, University of California Berkeley. October 28, 2011.
    • Open and User Innovation Workshop, Vienna, Austria. June 5, 2011
    • MIT Economic Sociology Working Group. May 18, 2011
  • Almost Wikipedia: What eight early online collaborative encyclopedia projects reveal about the mechanisms of collective action.
    • Microsoft Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts. August 13, 2012.
    • Wikimania 2012, George Washington University, Washington, DC. July 14, 2012.
    • Wikimedia Foundation, San Francisco, California. November 2, 2011.
    • Conference on Digital Commons, Barcelona, Spain [Remote Video Presentation] October 29, 2011.
    • Luncheon Series, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. October 11, 2011. [Abstract & Presentation Video]
    • MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. May 20, 2011
    • MIT Sloan Seminar on Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategy. November 22, 2010.
    • MIT Economic Sociology Working Group. November 17, 2010.
  • Is volunteer labor a ``fixed and finite'' resource? Evidence from peer production. MIT Economic Sociology Working Group, Cambridge, Massachusetts. April 24, 2012.
  • Causal Effects of a Reputation-Based Incentive in an Peer Production Community.
    • MIT Open and User Innovation Workshop. Cambridge,Massachusetts. August 2, 2010.
    • MIT Economic Sociology Working Group, Cambridge, Massachusetts. June 9, 2010.
    • Harvard Cooperation Group, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Cambridge, Massachusetts. April 26, 2010.
  • Revealing Errors.

Panels and Talks

  • [Research Stream Overview] Failures of Collective Action. Cognitive Science Colloquium, Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts. April 10, 2013.
  • [Research Stream Overview] Failures of Collective Action. Department of Communication, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington. October 26, 2012.
  • [Academic Keynote Address] When peer production works: Learning from failures, to improve collaboration. Wikipedia Academy 2012, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany. June 29, 2012.
  • [Research Stream Overview] Can can social awards create better wikis? (With Aaron Shaw)
    • Wikimania 2012, George Washington University, Washington, DC. July 12, 2012 .
    • Fórum Internacional Software Livre, Porto Alegre, Brasil. July 1, 2011.
  • [Refereed Panel (Co-organizer)] Reviewing and challenging socio-political approaches in the analysis of open collaboration and collective action online. With Mayo Fuster Morell. WikiSym 2010. Gdansk, Poland. July 10, 2010. [PDF]
  • [Talk] The State of FLOSS Research. University of Massachusetts Department of Computer Science in Amherst, Massachusetts. November 20, 2009.
  • [Panel] Renaissance Panel: The Roles of Creative Synthesis in Innovation. CHI 2008 in Florence, Italy. April 7, 2008. [Abstract | Video]
  • [Panel] Cloud Computing and Free and Open Source Software. Computing in the Cloud Workshop at the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University in Princeton, NJ. January 22, 2008.
  • [Reponse] Reflections on Decoding Liberation. Book Launch Event for Decoding Liberation at Brooklyn College. November 15, 2007.
  • [Talk] Parallel Document Development. Open and User Innovation Conference at Copenhagen Business School in Copenhagen, Denmark. June 27, 2007.
  • [Panel] Reflections on the War on Share Media in Transition 5 (MiT5) at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. April 27, 2007.
  • [Keynote] Defining Moments. Conference on Engaging in Open Source (CEOS) at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. June 2, 2006.

Lectures and Classes

I have helped teach the following classes as a teaching assistant where I, over the several years I have taught the class, have also delivered a number of the course lectures:

  • [Teaching Assistant] 15.356: How to Develop "Breakthrough" Products and Services. (Prof. Eric von Hippel). MIT Program in Systems Design and Management. Spring, 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012.
  • [Teaching Assistant] 15.969 (15.S08): User-Centric Innovations. (Prof. Eric von Hippel). MIT Sloan School of Management. Spring, 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012.
  • MAS.960: Graduate Reading Seminar in Free Software and Open Source. MIT Media Lab, Fall 2008.
  • 15.960: Special Seminar in Collective Intelligence. Sloan School of Management, Fall 2008.

I have also given the following guest lectures:

Other Academic Material

  • Interdepartmental Degree Proposal (PDF): At MIT, I'm enrolled in an interdepartmental PhD program that involves faculty from both the MIT Sloan School of Management and the MIT Media Lab. The proposal lists the faculty and requirements of my program and lays out the justification, very broadly, of what my degree is about. I wrote this proposal with members of the MIT faculty and had it approved by both departments and the Dean of Graduate Students. The program is overseen by Professors Eric von Hippel, Tom Malone, and Mitch Resnick.
  • General Exams: As part of my PhD program, I had to organize and take a series of examinations that tested my knowledged in three academic areas: (1) technological innovation, entrepreneurship, and strategy with an added emphasis on the study of open and user innovation, (2) organizational and economic sociology and (3) technology design for cooperation, community, and creativity. I created a page for these that includes the proposal, reading list, link to notes, and links to the exam questions and my answers. The generals committee included Eric von Hippel, Jason Davis, and Mitch Resnick
  • Open and User Innovation Conference: I coordinated the program, handled communacation, and acted as master of ceremonies for, both the 8th Annual Open and User Innovation conference held at MIT Sloan School of Management on August 2-4, 2010 and the 10th Annual conference held at Harvard Business School. Each conference had 150+ talks and 7 parallel tracks with presentations from researchers from North America, Asia, and Europe.
  • AcaWiki: AcaWiki is a wiki that hosts summaries of academic articles and books. I have written several hundred summaries of scholarly articles and books which I've shared on the site. When time permits, I try to continue summaries of articles that I read in my course of my research.
  • If you like the layout of my curriculum vitæ, thanks go to Kieran Healy for the typographical inspiration. If you'd like to use it yourself, you can help yourself to the LaTeX source code.