Christopher Wienberg

The Institute for Creative Technologies
The University of Southern California
12015 Waterfront Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90094-2536


phone: +1 (310) 448-5361 | Curriculum Vitae
email: cwienberg [at] ict [dot] usc [dot] edu

I am a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Southern California's Department of Computer Science. I am currently working as a Graduate Research Assistant at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies under the direction of my advisor, Andrew Gordon. I am a member of ICT's Narrative Group.

I completed my undergraduate education at Pomona College in Claremont, CA, where I received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Computer Science. My academic and thesis advisor was Professor Sara Owsley Sood.

My research focuses on how people present themselves on the web, and how machines can utilize the knowledge encoded in these presentations. In particular, I am investigating automatic methods for learning characteristics of bloggers who maintain a public journal of their personal lives. By leveraging the significant amount of text that these web authors provide about themselves, we plan to automatically extract information about them, including a demographic profile. In tandem with survey sample re-weighting techniques, we will investigate if a sample of web users can be used to characterize an offline population.

In the course of my research, I have investigated automatically measuring the similarity of people based on the information they post about themselves on their weblogs. Also, I have focused on developing clever ways to cheaply leverage human knowledge and effort in weblog analysis. For instance, I have examined the usage of photographs as a proxy for the full text of a weblog post when judging its content, and have explored the usage of search technology to study medical populations.

In conducting my research, I have utilized a corpus of English-language personal stories posted publicly to weblogs. Lately, I have been interested in privacy and research ethics issues, as they relate to large corpora of social media data. To investigate these questions, and others, I conducted a study, over the course of which I met several of the most prolific authors whose content is featured in the story corpus I have worked with. A documentary film crew tagged along and made a documentary short about public storytelling on the web, social media research, and privacy and ethics with respect to large web corpora. It is available on YouTube.

Publications