Google Research

Matt Rafalow


Matt Rafalow is a Sociologist (PhD, University of California-Irvine), a social scientist at Google, and a Visiting Scholar at UC-Berkeley’s Center for Science, Technology, Medicine & Society. At Google he leads a research program on live streaming experiences. Before working at Google he was an ethnographer for many years with the Connected Learning Research Network. In his academic work, he primarily studies how youth/young adults adopt digital technologies with mind to social disparities (particularly with mind to race-ethnicity and social class). His largest project to date explored how digital technologies are taken up and evaluated in different educational contexts. For this study, he found that teachers draw on organization-level understandings of student race and class to construct students as either risky hackers or Steve Jobs potentials. Contrary to popular belief, digital technologies were not magic bullets to address educational inequities — rather, teachers adopted very similar technologies quite differently depending on the race and class of their student body. His next project examines the rise of live streaming among both creators and observers, comparing and contrasting patterned uses of this new media format with sociological notions of participation in the public sphere.

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