1993 …2021

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Personal profile


Theresa (Terri) Senft has a BA (Hons) in Political Science (SUNY Albany USA 1983) and a PhD in Performance Studies (New York University  2004). Her research centers on the performance of self via digital media, with a focus on the visual display of identity via photo, video, and streaming technologies.

Terri began publishing on internet culture in 1997, and is a founding member of the Association of Internet Researchers. In the mid-2000s, she studied the 24/7 webcamming movement , using an auto-ethnographic approach that involved becoming an "ersatz camgirl" herself for a year. Terri then turned her attention to social media, tracing how the new technolgical ease of embedding visual material led first to online self-branding practice known as  "microcelebrity,"  and later, to the global phenomenon known as "selfie culture."  In 2013, Terri founded the international Selfie Researcher Network, now at more than 3,000 members. In 2015, she co-edited a special issue of on Global Selfie Culture for the International Journal of Communication.

Terri's  past work involves tracing how the technological affordances and corporate constraints of social media have yielded a new category of identity-the platform user--that maps to, and deviates from  'older'   categories such as gender, race, nation, age, and ability.  Her forthcoming monograph on these issues is titled SELFIE: Drone Scholarship on Visibility Politics, will be published by Polity Press in 2020. There, she argues social media viewership operates less like cinematic gaze (or televisual glance) than like a  'grab': a word associated with tactility, partiality, and indeterminate political status, as in the saying, "up for grabs."

More recently, Terri has been focused on what the World Health Organisation has dubbed "the infodemic" of Covid 19, characterised by an overload of  both "poor" (e.g. misinformation, disinformation, viral rumours, hoaxes conspiracies) and "good" information  (i.e.  truthful, vetted, authenticated, etc.) flows. Terri is  currently developing a policy brief for the WHO on the infodemic, with a special focus on young people's social media use.  One argument of the brief is that while they are as a cohort more vulnerable to overload than older populations, a lifetime of social media use has prepared young people  to engage in sophisticated understandings of  what she call Influence Literacy. Someone taking an Influence Literacy approach would read information less in terms of discrete units of good or poor content, and more as part of a flow of online "emotions on the move," circulated via taste-driven networks, via microcelebrities and influencers, via brands--and of course, via algorithmic amplification of key "activity indicators" on digital platforms.

Terri's other books include Camgirls: Celebrity and Community in the Age of Social Networks (Peter Lang: 2008) the co-edited Routledge Handbook of Social Media (Taylor & Francis: 2015); and the co-authored History of the Internet: A chronology, 1843 to the present (ABC-Clio: 1999).

Terri's personal website is www.terrisenft.net

Education/Academic qualification

Performance Studies, PhD, New York University

Award Date: 30 May 2004


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