Portrait of Sean Rintel

Sean Rintel

Senior Researcher


I explore the Future of Work at Microsoft Research Cambridge (UK). I am a human-computer interaction researcher interested in how the affordances of communication technologies interact with language, social action, and culture. I am currently focused on Socially Intelligent Meetings.

I am interested in video-mediated collaboration, enterprise social media platforms, cross-device interaction and device ecologies, engineering culture, tangible data visualisation of cloud data, and research-product group alignment. Most of my publications cover technologized interaction across a range of contexts, such as video calling and video messaging in personal relationships, Skype as an accountable category, ambient audio technologies to support independent living, IRC openings and non-responses, social media in the workplace, crisis memes, error mascots, Internet culture, and cross-device interaction in video-mediated collaboration and slideware. I have also explored membership categorisation analysis and omnirelevance.

My approach is ethnomethodological, drawing on ethnographic data and analysing that data using qualitative methods such as conversation analysis and membership categorisation analysis.

I have been a member of three global first-place winning projects in Microsoft OneWeek Hackathons. You can read about the first of these in our Garage Wall of Fame post Mobile Sharing and Companion Experiences for Microsoft Teams Meetings. One day I might even be able to say what the other ones were! 😉

I received my Ph.D. in 2010 in the field of Sociology specialising in Communication, from the University at Albany, State University of New York. My dissertation was chaired by Professor Emerita Anita Pomerantz with committee members Professor Teresa Harrison, Professor Glenna Spitze, and Professor Ronald Jacobs.

I was the Senior Editor of the Communication Technology section of the online Oxford Research Encyclopaedia of Communication. I have edited special issues of the Electronic Journal of Communication and the Australian Journal of Communication. I chaired the 2012 conference of the Australasian Institute of Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis.

Prior to working at Microsoft I was a Lecturer in Strategic Communication at The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. I was also a former Chair and Board Member of Electronic Frontiers Australia, a non-profit group advocating for digital access, freedom, and privacy.