Meet CivilServant’s New Data Engineer: Max KleinAugust, 2018
Max will engineer CivilServant’s infrastructures to support community-led experiments on a growing number of online platforms
It’s my great honor to start at CivilServant, and do the hard work of finding evidence on how to create a more understanding internet. When a friend first pointed me to the job opening at CivilServant its bold mission statement caught my attention. After spending time learning about what they do concretely, I was infatuated.
Something that Sue Gardner once said has stuck with me for years: when the internet was young there was a wide-eyed questioning about how everything would come online. We wondered how news, education, public parks, shopping malls, video rental stores, government, and religion, etc., would internet-ize? Some of those conversions have been wildly successful with the rise of social media, e-commerce, and streaming entertainment. And yet many important societal roles haven’t seen their digital revolution. For Sue, the prominence of Wikipedia was an exception-proving-the-rule in how profit-less “x” could be brought online. What would it mean for us to care for our digital environments through citizen science and other kinds of research, just like we do our rivers and forests? And I couldn’t be more energized to answer that.
My background has been an exercise at becoming a technologist-with-social-purpose. I built one of the first analytic tools to utilize Wikidata in 2014 in the Wikidata Human Gender Indicators, which actively keeps watch on gender-focused editing of biographies across all Wikipedias. During a stint at Data Science for Social Good, I developed a machine learning pipeline to alert teachers in Oklahoma which 3rd graders are at risk of failing the grade a year before the fact, and what interventions might work. In my PhD candidacy I created and merged diverse datasets to find social implications of the changing face of the sharing economy.
I aim to hone and expand my computational social science practice at CivilServant, maintaining scientific and open source integrity. Some of my first projects will build on my knowledge of the Wikipedia universe and I’m glad to be able to jump-in with both feet to those data challenges. In time, my aim is to discover the civic internet-life of communities with which I’m not so familiar. Then hopefully I can create data and tools in service of supporting citizen behavioral science for fairer, safer, more conscious online platforms and the connections in between them.