Tricia Wang is a tech ethnographer who is driven by the belief that technology must serve humanity. Tricia’s work spans the corporate, academic, and nonprofit worlds. Organizations turn to her to help them see the unexpected human behaviors that can radically shift their business. She is the co-founder of Sudden Compass, a consulting firm that redesigns the way companies leverage data to serve their customers. Her focus on tech has always been in adoption amongst marginalized communities from China to Mexico and Peru. She studied the sociological network effects of the internet, cellphones, social media, and currently, cryptocurrency.
She is a frequent conference keynoter, a pioneer in bringing the human voice to data science with what she calls Thick Data, which she describes in her TED talk. She is a leading authority on digital transformation, building data teams, customer experience, and economy of personal data. Her most recent work is on the importance of hyperlocal forms of interaction and control of personal data. Her work has been featured in Quartz, New Yorker, Buzzfeed, Techcrunch, The Atlantic, Al Jazeera, Slate, Wired, The Guardian and Fast Company.
Tricia is a fellow at Geo Tech Atlantic Council, affiliate at Data & Society, and sits on the World Economic Forum Global Futures Data Council. Tricia has held affiliate positions at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Data & Society, and New York University’s ITP Program. She is a Fulbright Fellow and National Science Foundation Fellow.
Tricia has spent decades researching youth culture, social media, and Chinese Internet culture. She has spent 20 plus years researching the social evolution of the Chinese internet, and written about the “elastic self,” an emergent form of interaction in a virtual world. Her writings on China cover her time living with migrants to spending nights in internet cafe and working with internet policy-makers. She was the first Western scholar to work at China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), China’s equivalent to the USA’s FCC (Federal Communications Commission). Through extensive fieldwork in China and Latin America from living in internet cafes with migrants to working undercover alongside street vendors, her style of hyper-immersive ethnography gives her a unique perspective on what is actually happening on the ground, an outcome that she believes is critical for organizations to understand if they want to form a lifelong relationship with their consumers as people. During her projects she has pioneered ethnographic techniques such as live fieldnoting, which uses social media tools to share real-time fieldwork data.
She began her career as a documentary filmmaker at NASA, an HIV/AIDS activist, and an educator specializing in culturally responsive pedagogy, and has continued to wear many hats over the course of her career. She pours her energy into projects that support and connect humans that strengthen communities, including building after-school technology and arts programs for low-income youth at New York City public schools and the Queens Museum of Arts. Tricia co-founded the first national hip-hop education initiative, H2Ed, which is now housed at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education.
Her most recent work during the COVID-19 pandemic through Last Mile reflects the insights she gained from her 10+ years of living and researching in China. She is also on the California COVID-19 data taskforce. She is based in Peru and NYC. Her life philosophy is that you have to go to the edge to discover the center. For more information, go to her website www.triciawang.com or follow her on twitter or instagram @triciawang.