What is an internet geologist?

I was at a cocktail party, struggling to describe in just a few sentences what I do for a living, when my friend Paul Tarini broke in and said, “You’re an internet geologist. You study the rocks, you don’t judge them.” Exactly. I study patterns in the online landscape and provide data so people can make better decisions about the social impact of the internet.

My other favorite description of the kind of research I do is “nowist” (meaning: instead of being a futurist, understand what people are doing now and be alert to changes).

“Health care gadfly” describes my role outside the fray, as an observer, hopefully contributing to the public conversation in a useful way.

Ted Eytan coined the phrase “community colleague” for people who collaborate by default. That’s me. My work is enriched by the health geek tribe. I can’t imagine doing the work I do without the help of my community.

Here’s where I publish and hang out online:





If you have questions, please leave a comment, send me an email (sfox at pewinternet.org) or give me a call: 202-419-4511

If you are looking for a formal bio and head shot, here’s my Pew Research page.

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11 thoughts on “What is an internet geologist?

  1. Perfect.

    I didn’t know Paul Tarini was the source of that phrase – thanks for sharing it!

    And, may I say, mazel tov.

    • Thanks, Dave! Yep, the site is live in beta (still need to add a few features) and one thing I’m very happy to share is the origin of the phrase I now use daily, thanks to Paul.

  2. Hey, how fabulous that I bumped into Ted Eytan’s tweet about your new blog — yay! Love the backstory for the “internet geologist” title. I am always struggling to explain to people concisely what I do — perhaps I should ask Paul Tarini to give me a moniker :)

    • You should ask him! Or Ted Eytan, who coined “community colleague.” Sometimes friends see us more clearly than we see ourselves.

  3. I was wondering how to explain all of what you do to the readers of my today’s post on rare diseases (Social media: best ally of patients with rare disease) as I quote you and Peer-to-Peer Health. Then, I decided to put a link to this post. Thank you Susannah for all the fine data you produce!

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