Morgan G. Ames is a lecturer and postdoctoral scholar with the School of Information and the interim associate director of research for the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society at the University of California, Berkeley. Morgan's research explores the cultural politics of technology, the ideologies behind high-tech innovation, and the role of utopianism in the technology world. Her current projects focus on the imaginary of the "technical child" as fertile ground for this utopianism.
Morgan is wrapping up a book on the One Laptop per Child project, The Charisma Machine: The Life, Death, and Legacy of One Laptop per Child, which is due out in 2019 from MIT Press and provides a critical analysis of technological utopianism. Drawing on archival research and a seven-month ethnography in Paraguay, the book explores the cultural history, results, and legacy of the project - including what the project tells us about the many other technology projects that draw on similar ideals.
As part of the "Seeing Like a Valley" research initiative, Morgan's next project explores the role that utopianism plays in discourses around childhood, education, and 'development' in two geographically overlapping but culturally divided worlds: developer culture of Silicon Valley and the working-class and immigrant communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. This project includes investigations of youth cultures, Minecraft, artificial intelligence, programming practices, and generational differences in programming "origin stories."
Morgan's research has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Intel, and other organizations. Morgan has been invited to present her work at conferences around the world, including South by Southwest (SXSW). Morgan has won multiple "Best of CSCW" awards, and she is first author on the most-cited paper of CHI 2007.
Morgan is also affiliated with the Center for Science, Technology, Society and Policy, the Algorithmic Fairness and Opacity Working Group, and Berkeley Institute of Data Science. She previously spent two years as a postdoctoral researcher at the Intel Science and Technology Center for Social Computing at UC Irvine, where she worked with Paul Dourish in the Department of Informatics. Morgan's PhD is in communication (with a minor in anthropology) from Stanford, where her dissertation won the Nathan Maccoby Outstanding Dissertation Award in 2013. She also has a B.A. in computer science and M.S. in information science, both from the University of California, Berkeley. She has previously worked as a researcher at Nokia, Yahoo!, Google, and Intel.