I am an Assistant Professor in Media and Communication at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

I’m interested in communities and publics in the age of the ‘smart city’.  How do we come together through the media we use?  How do we build our own networks (infrastructures, relationships) and how do these influence our experience of activism, politics, and governance? How can the history of community media give us hope for more citizen-oriented ‘smart cities’?

I’m currently finishing a project on open culture and governance, and starting a book project called “Governing the Data City”. I coordinate the MSc in Media and Communication, Data & Society and teach  “Digital Media Futures” an MSc module where we look at the relationship between social shifts and technological change within the communications field.

Some Recent Publications

** Please note that all files linked are the author’s own prepress manuscript versions or working papers. Please cite the published versions. Open access publications also available at LSE Research Online**

(2015) Open culture and innovation: integrating knowledge across boundaries. Media, Culture and Society Feb 10, 2015. Prepress version: powell CERN OHL FINAL

(2014) ‘Datafication,’ Transparency, and good governance of the data city. in Digital Enlightenment Forum Yearbook. Edited by Kieron O’Hara and Carolyn Nguyen. London: IOS Press. Prepress version: Powell Digital Enlightenment Yearbook Chapter

(2014) “Coding alternative modes of governance: learning from experimental “peer to peer cities” Code and the City Workshop, National University of Ireland Maynooth, June 24 2014. Working paper: smart cities data cities

(2014) “The History and Future of Internet Openness: from ‘wired’ to ‘mobile’” in Theories of the Mobile Internet. Edited by Andrew Herman, Jann Hadlaw and Thom Swiss. Routledge.pp. 25-44. Prepress version: Powell Mimi chapter final

(2012) Democratizing production through open source knowledge: open software to open hardware. Media, Culture and Society. Prepress version:Powell Open Source Knowledge Prepress

(2011) Metaphors, models and communicative spaces: designing local wireless infrastructure. Canadian Journal of Communication

PhD Thesis: “Co-productions of Technology, Culture and Policy in the North American Community Wireless Networking Movement”
Concordia University, Montreal (2008)


This thesis investigates the visions and realities of community WiFi’s social and political impact, examining how communication technology and social forms are co-produced and providing a communication studies perspective on the transformation of social visions of technology into technological, social, and policy realities. By following the development of local WiFi projects and the emergence of broader policy-oriented mobilizations, it assesses the real outcomes of socially and politically progressive visions about information and communication technologies (ICTs). The visions of advocates and developers suggest that community WiFi projects can inspire greater local democratic engagement, while the realities suggest a more subtle bridging of influence from community WiFi actors into policy development spheres. The thesis describes local WiFi networks in Montreal and Fredericton, NB, and the North American Community Wireless Networking (CWN) movement as it has unfolded between 2004 and 2007, arguing that its democratic visions of technology and their institutional realities have been integral to the politicization of computing technology over the last four decades. Throughout the thesis, WiFi radio technology, a means of networking computers and connecting them to the internet by using unlicensed radio spectrum, acts as an example of how a technology’s material form is co-produced along with its symbolic social and political significance.

Thesis Chapters:


Chapter One: Lit Review & Theory

Chapter Two: Computerization Movements

Chapter Three: Ile Sans Fil

Chapter Four: Fred-eZone

Chapter Five: The CWN Movement

Chapter Six: Policy Hacking

Chapter Seven: Conclusions