Richard Harper is Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research in Cambridge and co-manages the Socio-Digital Systems group. Richard is a sociologist concerned with how to design for 'being human' in an age when human nature is often caricatured or rendered in stereotypical ways. Current sources of such views are computationalism and network science. Caricaturing can restrict understanding of human affairs and can inhibit imagination in the design of computer technologies. Richard has been exploring these issues in his many books and articles, as well as demonstrating the value of richer, more perspicuous views on human nature in his technology prototypes and innovations.
His 10th book, Texture: Human expression in the age of communications overload (MIT Press) was awarded the Society of Internet Researcher's 'Book of the Year (2011)'. Amongst his prior books was the IEEE award winning The Myth of the Paperless Office (MIT Press,2002), co-authored with Abi Sellen, and Inside the IMF: an ethnography of documents, technology and organisational action (Academic Press, 1997). In 2011 he published The Connected Home: the future of domestic life (Springer, Dec, 2011). His latest collection (tentatively entitled) 'Doubt: Essays on Trust, Computing and Society', will be published by CUP (New York) later this year. He is currently working on a monograph (with Dave Randall and Wes Sharrock) called Choice: The science of reason in the 21st Century.
His work is not only philosophical and sociological, but also includes the design of real and functioning systems, for work and for home settings, for mobile devices and for social networking sites. Numerous patents have derived from his work. Particular foci have been new forms of messaging, as illustrated by Glancephones and Wayve Devices, exploratory control devices for cloud-based interaction such as the Cloud Mouse; and new forms of file types, reflecting social networking social practices (see, for example, What is a file? paper presented at CSCW13).
Prior to joining MSR, Richard helped lead various technology innovation and knowledge transfer companies, while in 2000 he was appointed the UK’s first Professor of Socio-Digital Systems, in the Sociology Department at the University of Surrey, England. It was here he also set up the Digital World Research Centre. Prior to this he was a researcher at Xerox PARC's fifth lab, EuroPARC, in Cambridge. In 2011 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He became a Fellow of the IET in 2010. He lives in Cambridge with his wife and three troublesome but occasionally delightful children.