Looking Around, Rather Than Ahead: Design at the Periphery of Contemporary High Tech Development
In this talk, Sarah Fox will describe a research approach that relies on technology design not as an end in itself but as a way to understand and probe social phenomena, from how designers use new technologies to reshape the city, to how community members produce modes of collective responsibility. To illustrate this approach, Fox will focus on two case studies at the periphery of contemporary high tech development. The first investigates data-driven mapping techniques through the deployment of a fictional design company, and the second example examines the intersection of public resource distribution and technologies linked to the internet of things — or, ubiquitous networked objects imbued with computational capacity. By interrogating and leveraging digital mapping and IoT, Fox looks at the shifting qualities of these technologies as they stretch across sites of intended and unintended use. In these case studies, data-driven mapping is revealed to contest and propagate socio-spatial exclusions, while IoT structures experiences of public resource access. In discussing this work, Fox will show how design interventions offer possibilities for understanding the work of technology development and how they might be used to surface critical alternatives within information studies.
Sarah Fox is a Ph.D. candidate in Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington, as well as a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. Her research investigates the social and political circumstances of technology development, with an emphasis on practices at the periphery of industrial production, from feminist making and hacking to collaborative development of menstrual infrastructure. Her work has earned awards in leading computing venues including ACM CSCW, CHI, and DIS, and has been featured in special issues of the Journal of Peer Production and New Media and Society. She holds a master's degree in digital media from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she was a part of the Intel Science and Technology Center for Social Computing. She has worked in design research at Microsoft Research, Google, and Intel Labs.