Photo of Jenny Cool


I am a social anthropologist and ethnographic filmmaker whose work focuses on cultural production and reproduction in the U.S. and on dominant social imaginaries, such as the American dream of homeownership and the narrative of social revolution through technology. The first is the subject of my film Home Economics: a documentary of suburbia, which premiered nationally on the PBS Television series POV in 1995. The second is the focus of my current work on the ethnography and cultural history of networked social media.

Born in the Philippines and raised in South and Southeast Asia, I have worked in new media since 1992 when I wrote and produced chapters for Evolution/Revolution, part of the Columbus Project, a milestone multimedia title now on permanent display at the Library of Congress. From 1993 to 2003, I lived and worked as a participant-observer in Cyborganic, an intentional community of web geeks whose members brought Wired magazine online, launched Hotwired, the first ad-supported online magazine, led the open source Apache project, and staffed and started dozens of Internet enterprises, such as Craig's List, during the first phase of the Web's development as a popular platform. I have produced web media for Simon and Schuster and Institute for the Future, was a senior producer at Netscape, and was Director of New Media at Disney/ABC Cable Networks from 1999-2001.

My fields include digital media, Internet culture, ethnographic filmmaking, critical theories of representation, and feminist theory. I have taught in Cinema at San Francisco State University, and in both Studio Arts and Information and Computer Science at the University of California, Irvine. I am currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Visual Anthropology at the University of Southern California (USC), where I teach media production in the Masters and undergraduate programs in Visual Anthropology.

Ph.D. in Social Anthropology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

M.A. in Visual Anthropology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Social Anthropology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA




Awards & Fellowships
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Anthropology Department, University of Southern California, 2010-2011

Award for Excellence in Teaching, Center for Excellence in Teaching, University of Southern California, 2007

Final Year Dissertation Fellowship, College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, University of Southern California, 2007

Summer Graduate Fellowship, Anthropology Department, University of Southern California, 2007

Computing & Commerce Producers MVP Award, Netscape Netcenter, 1999

Apple Computer Vivarium Program Video Project Grant, 1992

Goelet Fund Award, grant for documentary fieldwork in Hunza, Pakistan, 1995

Harvard College & John Harvard Scholarships, Harvard College, 1985, 1986, 1987

Elizabeth Cary Aggassiz Scholar, Radcliffe College, 1986

Ms Pac-Man Champion, Wailae Bowl, Honolulu, HI, 1983

American Anthropological Association
  • Society for Visual Anthropology
  • Committee on the Anthropology of Science, Technology and Computing (CASTAC)

Society for Social Studies of Science (4s)

New Day Films

  • Chair, Futures Committee, 2000-2003
  • Webmaster and Online Chair, 1994-1996
Anthropology Student Association, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
  • President, 1990-1993
    Organized weekly Wednesday Night Seminars for five semesters. Series featured screenings and presentations in social documentary film and photography, as well as informal workshops. Guest speakers included: Alan Sekula, Jean-Pierre Gorin, George Marcus, Jean Rouch, Daniel Dayan, Terence Turner, Jay Ruby, David MacDougall, Tim Asch.