Research Overview

Ryan’s research focuses on the intersections between digital media technologies, media industry practices, and globalization. His dissertation draws on interviews, industry reports, and algorithmic audits to examine how internet-distributed film and television services like Netflix create and employ data to algorithmically distribute content around the world. While scholars have discussed internet-distributed film and television services and globalization before, Ryan’s dissertation looks beyond media geographies to examine how distribution technologies’ embedded logics reinforce cultural difference. For example, Netflix’s Metadata Analysts rate the level of violence within a program so that algorithms can distribute content to communities that Netflix deems more or less open to violent media.

Outside of his dissertation, Ryan has produced more than 20 publications and conference papers on media production— in journals such as Social Media + SocietyThe Journal of Media Ethics, and Flow. He is currently working with a research group from The University of Iowa, Penn State University, and Gonzaga University on a research project funded by the United States Department of Defense that focuses on algorithms and radicalization.

From 2019 to 2020, Ryan served as the managing editor for the Journal of Communication Inquiry, the only student-run, peer-reviewed academic journal in communication and media studies. He now serves on the journal’s advisory board.

Research Interests

Digital Media Production

Ryan’s digital media production research examines the intersections of art and commerce for digital platforms. He is particularly interested in what types of knowledge—such as industry lore, reflexivity, and analytics—digital media producers use to make creative decisions.

Suggested Reading: “Professionalizing and Profiting: The Rise of Intermediaries in the Social Media Influencer Industry” by Ryan Stoldt, Mariah Wellman, Brian Ekdale, and Melissa Tully in Social Media + Society

Algorithmic Distribution

Ryan’s research on algorithmic distribution examines the cultural impact of platforms’ personalization algorithms. His research explores how algorithms relate to the maintenance and creation of cultural difference and its impacts.

Suggested Reading:A/B Storytelling: Interactive Television, Audience Labor, and the Audience Commodity” by Ryan Stoldt in Flow

Globalization and Platforms

Ryan’s research on globalization examines how the intersections of digital media technologies, industry practices, regional and national policy, and cultural tastes affect how information flows globally.

Suggested Reading: “Interactive Television as a Cultural Forum: Storytelling and Meaning-Making in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” by Ryan Stoldt in Flow