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Matthew Zook
University Research Professor

I am currently accepting graduate students whose interests in digital and economic geographies, critical financial studies and urban geography overlap with my own (see below).

There are three main threads within my work: (1) How are digital technologies changing the spatial economy, globalization and cities? (2) How do big data and digital technologies provide new ways to study economic networks and cities? (3) What do big data and digital technologies mean for governance and policy?

How are digital technologies changing cities and the spatial economy?

Part of my research in this area takes the form of my NSF funded project on blockchain geographies (BCS 1853718). The long-term goal of this research program is to further geographic scholarship on financialization and the ways financial institutions and logics are gaining power in economic and everyday systems. My central objective is understanding how blockchain cryptocurrencies reshape the spaces and practices of valuation and financing particularly within tech-based startup firms.

How do big data and digital technologies provide new ways to study cities?

One of the most exciting aspects of big data is the opportunity it affords us to rethink broader questions about theory and methodological approaches in city planning and urban geography. These new data sources are particularly useful insofar as they allow for more a spatially and temporally granular approach to analyzing urban social and spatial processes than is possible with more conventional datasets. 

What do big data and digital technologies mean for urban governance and policy?

The third thread of my research focuses on the implications of big data and digital technologies for governance and policy building. The key task in my mind is ensuring that it is not simply an exercise in data and algorithm building but instead gives equal weight to considering the motivations, ideologies and politics associated with urban technology. For example, are ideas and implementations just coming from certain actors, i.e., technology firms, start-up entrepreneurs, or are they representative of the larger citizenry and community? How is social justice defined, and does it have a place at the table when data definitions are decided upon and algorithms discussed? 

Big Data and Society

I am the managing editor for, Big Data & Society (Impact Factor: 8.731) an open access peer-reviewed journal that publishes interdisciplinary work principally in the social sciences, humanities and computing and their intersections with the arts and natural sciences about the implications of Big Data for societies. The Journal's key purpose is to provide a space for connecting debates about the emerging field of Big Data practices and how they are reconfiguring academic, social, industry, business and government relations, expertise, methods, concepts and knowledge.

Contact Information
875 Patterson Office Tower
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Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley. (Berkeley, CA). M.R.P. Cornell University (Ithaca, NY). B.A. Earlham College (Richmond, IN).
Research Interests
  • regional economic development
  • Smart Cities and Urban Technology
  • Critical finance studies
  • Big Data and Society
  • Geography