Research

Daniela Rosner's Research Group Archive

The following research group descriptions are archived because they are no longer offered, the faculty member is on sabbatical, or the group is taking a break. Please contact the faculty member or an advisor to learn more about these groups.


Figure and Ground: Amplifying the Public Imagination of the Central Area

Spring 2019

This quarter-long directed research group aims to develop tools and projects that elevate the under-recognized stories, experiences, and histories of the historically Black Central Area. In the context of decades of disinvestment and current development-driven displacement, Central Area organizations, activists, and residents are engaged in a process of imagining ‘Africatown,’ a vision of the neighborhood as a place where a multiplicity of black life and cultural expression thrives. Drawing from a diversity of theoretical perspectives, including cultural geography, theories of black space, urban studies, and critical race studies, we use a hands-on, empirically-informed research and making practice to nourish a project of self-determination and imagination. Through design we elevate the legacies of innovation and community-building within the Central Area by inverting the valorized figures of contemporary urban development with the stories selectively rendered as (back)ground. Expected products include both concrete tools and interpretive reflections. 

Further Reading

+  Taylor, Quintard. The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle’s Central District from 1870 through the Civil Rights Era. University of Washington Press, 2011.
+  Fullilove, M.T., 2001. Root shock: the consequences of African American dispossession. Journal of Urban Health, 78(1), pp.72-80.
+  Africatown Design Weekend
+  africatownseattle.com
+  Tran O'Leary, Jasper, et al. Who Gets to Future? Race, Representation, and Design Methods in Africatown. To appear in Proceedings of Conference on Human-Factors in Computing (CHI'19) 

Related Press

+  $82.5K grant will help Africatown continue Midtown Center art and activation project, Capitol Hill Seattle Blog 
+  Midtown: Public Square kicked back in review process as board says plan for community art not enough, Capitol Hill Seattle Blog 
+  Midtown design looks too much like SoLU, not enough like the CD — Can new Central Area Design Review Board help?, Capitol Hill Seattle Blog 
+  In Seattle’s Central District, residents, artists imagine a 'parallel universe,' Seattle Times

Required Availability

+  Register for 2 to 3 credits for spring quarter. Indicate availability for additional quarters (not required).
+  Meet for 1-2 hours each week.
+  Work 4 to 6 hours each week outside of meetings.

How to Apply

We seek an engaged, interdisciplinary group of scholars, activists, and makers. Note: enrollment in this DRG is at capacity for Spring 2019.


The internet of evocative objects: a deployment of public IoTs

Spring 2019

This DRG will examine how Internet of Things (IoT) devices installed within public settings might contribute to the coordinated work of resource distribution and broad public hygiene infrastructure. We will test, deploy, and trace interactions with a set of networked devices built to support the circulation of menstrual resources (e.g., pads and tampons) within public restrooms at the Seattle Public Library. In doing so, we seek to understand how maintenance staff and patrons care for or access public health resources through public IoT. In addition to collecting numerical data through the IoT devices (e.g. product levels), we will draw on qualitative research methods of participant observation and ethnographic interviewing to further understand how maintenance staff and members of the public relate to and interpret IoT installations. To circulate this research to the broader public, participants of this DRG will develop a website to document and share the IoT designs for download, as well as short accounts of qualitative research findings.

We welcome applicants with interests in qualitative research and/or strong backgrounds in physical computing. Participants will be expected to commit 6 hours per week, enrolling in two units of credit.

The group will be comprised of 3-5 DRG participants, and co-led by PhD students Brian Kinnee and Rafael Silva, UCSD Postdoctoral Fellow Sarah Fox, and faculty member Daniela Rosner.  


Designing interactive critical design artifacts to celebrate the women of Atari

Winter 2019

Co-directed by Pernille Bjørn and Daniela Rosner

This project uses a collaborative design process to build an interactive installation (e.g., museum exhibit, conference exposé, and/or Maker Faire display) that showcases the hidden stories of women in computer gaming. In particular, we focus on the women of color who made crucial engineering contributions to Atari, an early computer gaming company. According to media historian Nathan Esmenger, women made up roughly 30% of computer programmers well into the 1970s, half as many as today. The 1980s represent a crucial period of change for women's participation in computing. Across the decade, images of the weird, brilliant male computer hacker took increasing hold of the popular imagination, appearing in the storylines for major movies and the headlines of popular news account. 

Focusing on 1980s Atari developments, our interactive installation will utilize "makerspace" methodologies (e.g., IoT development, tangible interaction, and gaming) to draw people into stories of Atari women. We will explore and challenge industry notions of who is or should become a programmer, engineer, and designer by revisiting the accounts of women whose labor remained hidden within the Atari products and their marketing. In doing so, we call on members of the contemporary game-development and wider IT industry to help rewrite engineering histories to highlight key computational know-how contributed by groups underrepresented within computing fields today. We hope to end the quarter with a proposal for a ComicCon 2019 panel in Seattle in order to present and demonstrate the interactive installation.

Required Availability

+  Register for 2 to 3 credits for spring quarter. Indicate availability for additional quarters (not required).
+  Meet for 1-2 hours each week.
+  Work 4 to 6 hours each week outside of meetings.

Required Experience

Participants in this DRG must have at least one of the following skills and experiences:
+  Outreach coordination: Experience interviewing and using qualitative research methods such as fieldwork observation
+  Visual and interaction design: Experience with design and branding, Adobe Illustrator or the like, web development
+  Maker mindset: Familiar with the UW CoMotion makerspace and digital prototyping tools 


Troubled worlds: rethinking computing in the age of climate change 

Autumn 2018

Co-directed by Daniela Rosner and Megan Finn (iSchool)

This yearlong, weekly, reading and research group seeks to understand the role of computing tools and infrastructures in climate change along three central axes. First, we consider environmental histories of the internet and the impact of the development of information technologies on the environment. Second, we examine the environmental cost of computing within late capitalist economies with a particular focus on eWaste and air pollution. In particular, we ask: where does the material substrate of computing systems (e.g., handheld devices, the internet) come from and go to? In addressing this question, we also necessarily consider how the environmental impact of computing is distributed across local and global scales. Third, we evaluate policy and governance frameworks and radical interventions to mitigate computing’s impact on climate. To help us examine different approaches, we plan to draw on campus experts in climate change. 

Brief Schedule

Fall quarter will be devoted to reading broadly and understanding existing ongoing work in this area.
Winter quarter will be dedicated to digging deeper into topics of interest to research group members and formulating research projects.
Spring quarter will focus on executing the research projects.  

Required Experience

We've aimed the group's content at doctoral level students, but we are happy to consider applications from undergraduate and masters students who have taken research methods classes and/or feel comfortable reading peer-reviewed academic research.


Designing a Radical Module for Engineering Education

Spring 2018

Co-directed by Nadya Peek and Daniela Rosner

This project uses a collaborative design workshop to introduce students to absent histories of engineering. We will develop a toolkit for middle and high school classrooms that introduces the story of early 1960s core memory weavers.

The Making Core Memory project is a design inquiry into the invisible work that went into assembling core memory, an early form of computer information storage initially woven by hand. Throughout the first two decades of the Cold War, magnetic-core memory was the principal mechanism with which computers stored and retrieved information. The computers for the Apollo mission stored information in core memory ropes—threaded wires, passed through or around magnetized metal rings. NASA engineers nicknamed this hardware “LOL memory” for the “little old ladies” who carefully wove wires around the electro-magnetic ferrite cores by hand. 

The kits we will develop comprise a simple metal matrix, beads and conductive threads (in place of ferrite core and wire) and simulate the collaborative weaving of one of the world's first portable computers. By introducing students to the kits and the story of the core memory weavers, a group we believe comprised many women of color, we help rewrite engineering histories to highlight key computational know-how contributed by groups underrepresented within engineering fields today. 

Required Availability

Register for 2 to 3 credits for spring quarter. Indicate availability for additional quarters (not required).
Meet for 2 hours each week.
Work 4 to 6 hours each week outside of meetings.

Required Experience

Participants in this DRG must have at least one of the following skills and experiences:

  • Outreach coordination
  • Experience interviewing and using qualitative research methods such as fieldwork observation
  • Visual and interaction design
  • Experience with design and branding, Adobe Illustrator or the like, web development
  • Maker mindset
  • Familiar with the UW CoMotion makerspace and digital prototyping tools 

 


Reimagining Design through a Disability Studies Lens

Spring 2018

From Inclusive Design to Ability-Based Design, industry professionals and academics alike have published design strategies to orient technology designers and researchers to the unique and underrepresented needs of people with disabilities. In this Directed Research Group, we will closely read some of these strategies in parallel with disability studies scholarship. we will engage in activities to understand, critique, and find opportunities for the disciplines of design and disability studies to inform each other. As our thinking evolves, we will synthesize a series of activities with which we can take to communities of designers, people with disabilities, and disabled designers to expand possibilities for this intersection in the field. In other words, our activities will seek to engage community members to answer questions like the following. How can disability studies augment current design and research practice? And, how can design be available to disabled people in the community who have interests including being makers or using design for activism?

Required Availability

Register for 2 to 3 credits for spring quarter. Indicate availability for additional quarters (not required).
Meet for 2 hours each week.
Work 4 to 6 hours each week outside of meetings.

Required Experience

Participants in this DRG must have a combination of the following skills and experiences.

Design: Working knowledge of HCD design and research methods. This could include a combination of experience building paper, software, and hardware prototypes, and using qualitative research methods like interviewing and field observations.
Disability Studies coursework and/or knowledge of disability. Instructions for how to share this experience below.
Facilitation: experience planning and executing workshop-like events with groups of up to 20 people.

How to Apply

Space is extremely limited. Please email organizer Cynthia Bennett at bennec3@uw.edu with the following information indicating eligibility. We will request an interview with qualified applicants. In your introductory email, please include the following:

Confirmation that you meet the availability requirements.
A few paragraphs describing your experience relevant to the required experiences outlined above.
A summary of your knowledge around disability. Some guiding questions might include: What is your understanding of the meaning of disability? What do you know about disability-related activism and disability studies scholarship? How do you perceive the relationship between disability and technology?
Attached resume and/or link to your web presence.


Building a Tiny Home: Exploring Design with Living Materials

Autumn 2017

Led by PhD student Kristin Dew and Assistant Professor Daniela Rosner

From robot swarms to self-healing screens, technology designers have begun to incorporate materials that grow, learn, change, and regenerate. As researchers and designers exploring living materials, we bump up against a need for tools, procedures, and pedagogies for working with them, particularly given a context of diminishing natural resources. In this year-long series of 3 DRGs, we will explore the intersections of DIY, craft, and living materials in the domestic environment through a series of design and fabrication projects with a tiny house located on campus. Students will learn how to work with living, changing materials like wood; explore their properties and fabrication processes through a series of projects blending wood and computational materials; and collaborate as co-researchers and co-participants in developing an understanding of the relationships between living material, making, and meaning.

In the first DRG starting this autumn, students will collaborate with PhD student Kristin Dew to finish enclosing a tiny house using a variety of tools to work with wood, developing an embodied understanding of the primary material driving this inquiry. Each meeting will comprise building time and documented discussion of our experiences working with wood within the frame of our research questions: How might living forms such as wood extend digital craft materials? And how might we better understand living materials and natural forces as non-human design collaborators? We will use these discussions to inform the winter quarter’s DRG activities, which will include blending wood and computational materials in a design project. In the spring DRG, the design artifact will be incorporated into a workshop and/or design probe activity.

No woodworking experience is required, and we seek a mix of students with diverse interests and skills in:

architecture and urban plannig
design materials
design theory
human-building interaction
multispecies interaction
biodesign
physical computing

If you’re not sure where your interests and skills might fit in, please feel free to email Kristin at kndew@uw.edu to chat about it first.

A few considerations before applying:

Priority will go to students who intend to fully participate in all meetings, all three quarters. Scheduling for winter and spring will be determined by participating students.
The 2-hour weekly studio/meeting will tentatively be held on Tuesdays from 3-5pm at Gould Hall’s fabrication yard. Please be prepared to spend a significant amount of time outdoors - rain or shine!


Understanding Kids’ Mealtime Experiences: Toward Playful Mealtime Technology Design

Autumn 2017

Led by PhD student Ying-Yu Chen

We are looking for up to three students to participate in a study on understanding how kids age 2-6 eat with their caregivers. In this group, we will interview parents and/or kids’ caregivers to understand how kids eat, how they notice and analyze qualitative data, and how they come up with questions and insights that inform the design of a mobile application. The result of this DRG will be observations and understandings of eating habits among young children that we will use to inform design sketches and prototypes. In future work, we will use our insights and design sketches to organize workshops for kids, build a creative mobile application, and deploy the mobile application with families.

We are looking for students who have 1) experience conducting user interviews; 2) the ability to learn and do qualitative coding and data analysis; 3) the ability or willingness to do design sketches.


Design Workshop Planning for Menstrual Hygiene Technology Development

Spring 2017

Over the last decade, a range of activists, designers and entrepreneurs have identified menstrual hygiene technology as a mechanism for broad social and political change. This quarter-long research group will focus on planning for two participatory design workshops on this topic of menstrual hygiene technologies and public distribution of hygiene products. The first workshop is planned for June in Atlanta, GA and the second workshop is planned for July in Seattle with folks from grassroots organizations, city maintenance workers, designers and others. During the summer quarter, we will run a followup DRG to prototype some of the most exciting ideas generated in the workshops. 

To apply, please send your CV and a brief statement of objectives to sefox@uw.edu. We are specifically seeking students with an interest in participatory research methods and experience actively participating in or helping facilitate workshops or community meetings. Proficiency in visual design or logistics and event planning is a plus. We expect students to register for 2 credits of HCDE 496/596.


Margaret Hamilton and the Core Memory Weavers: The Women Who Put Man on the Moon

Spring 2017

Throughout the first two decades of the Cold War, magnetic-core memory was the principal mechanism with which computers stored and retrieved information. The computers for the Apollo mission stored information in core memory ropes—threaded wires, passed through or around magnetized metal rings. NASA engineers nicknamed this hardware “LOL memory” for the “little old ladies” who carefully wove wires around the electro-magnetic ferrite cores by hand. The code, written by the trailblazing Margaret Hamilton, was made material by a team of master seamstresses outside of Boston.

In this DRG, we use this moment in engineering history to examine craftwork’s intellectual contribution to innovation — how craftwork becomes hardware manufacturing, and how hardware manufacturing becomes craftwork. Drawing on traditions of speculative, material and participatory investigation (Dunne and Raby 2013, Kerridge 2015, Knutz et al 2014, Galloway 2015, Haraway 2013), we do this in an interventionist project of integrative inquiry (Rosner forthcoming). Hosting a set of workshops in Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area, we develop a collaborative quilt made up of core memory “patches” that materializes the work of Hamilton and the core memory weavers. Participants receive a “patch kit” comprising a simple metal matrix, beads and conductive threads (in place of ferrite core and wire). Attached to each matrix is a module that acts as a potentiometer, monitoring the conductivity of the matrix threads in order to keep track of the woven design. Once connected to power, the module sends a snapshot of the matrix to a central microcontroller driving an LED display. By weaving their own patches and collectively hanging them onto a charging panel, participants contribute a “bit” of memory that begins to fill out larger digital display with their design. Each patch simulates the collaborative weaving of both read-only memory (ROM) and random access memory (RAM).

With this project we explore the contributions of embodied, gendered forms of knowledge that allow innovators to imagine new ways of making. We use craft as a line of inquiry, with its intersections of theory and practice, activism and understanding, and intervention and insight. Our intention is to not only bring the work of women back into histories of innovation, but also use these processional histories to imagine our relationships to technology afresh — how we might live and be alongside technological developments complete with their ongoing knots and troubles (Haraway 2016).

To apply, please send your CV and a brief statement of objectives to dkrosner@uw.edu. We are specifically seeking students with physical computing or facilitation experience. Proficiency in event planning and archival research is a plus. We expect students to register for 2 credits of HCDE 496/596.


Design Studies Reading Group

Offered with PhD student Sarah Fox

This reading group offers a means for graduate students from across the university to come together to explore key topics, debates, and theoretical perspectives in the field of Design Studies. Particularly of interest will be readings concerned with how design may preference the interests of certain groups over others and affect our ability to act.

Each week, we will meet for two hours to reflect on a book selection or 2-3 articles of interest. Those interested in pursuing design research, curation, and/or criticism are welcome.


Feminist Theory & Critical Disability Studies Reading Group

Daniela Rosner, Sarah Fox, Cynthia Bennett

This quarter-long reading group/DRG will examine and discuss readings that cover key and emerging themes in contemporary feminist theory and critical disability studies, alternating topics each week. We will grapple with gender and disability in their complex intersections with other systems of power, privilege, and access, including: class, sexuality, race, ability, and nationality. Rather than attempting to define a single conception of feminism or disability, we will instead consider various approaches taken up by past and contemporary feminist and disability studies theorists and activists. 

If this sounds of interest to you and you would like to participate, please reach out to Sarah Fox (sefox@uw.edu) or Cindy Bennett (bennec3@uw.edu). Sarah and Cindy are also happy to answer any questions you might have. 


Materiality Reading Group

This quarter-long reading group/DRG will will examine and discuss papers on the topic of materiality from the fields of science and technology studies (STS), archaeology, and new media studies and will be guided by broad questions about the role of objects in our lives and practices. Our specific interests is to think of the agency and aliveness of things in the context of restoration, repair, and maintenance practices. The group is set in collaboration with Prof. Daniela Rosner (HCDE) and will meet Wednesdays beginning week 2 from 4:00-5:30pm in Sieg Hall 420. Participating students will have the opportunity to sign up for 2 credits and will be asked to help lead weekly discussions.
 


Exploring the Feminist Internet of Things

While millions of people use sanitary pads and napkins, few public restrooms provide access to menstrual hygiene products, and even fewer provide them for free. As the average price per unit of tampons in the United States grows past $5.61, its availability to people with limited socioeconomic resources continues to decline. To address this concern, our team will explore the distribution of menstrual hygiene projects in public sites throughout Seattle. Through interviews and observations at places like parks and community centers, we will learn about the maintenance and usage practices that are currently in place. In tandem with and in response to this observational work, we will be making modifications to existing menstrual hygiene dispensers—namely, outfitting them with lightweight sensors so that the product levels might be better and more easily stocked. 

If you are interested in participating, please send an email to Daniela Rosner (dkrosner@uw.edu) and Sarah Fox (sefox@uw.edu) with a copy of your resume/CV and a short statement expressing your qualifications and interests in the group. A background in qualitative research methods (interviews, observation, probes) and/or hardware prototyping is needed. 


Mapping Critical Design

What is critical design? What does it mean to use design to ask critical questions, enable new forms of civic participation, or respond to social change? What are the criteria by which we call something critical in the context of design projects and design programs? This DRG aims to help researchers interested in mapping the field of critical design. To do this, we will examine the current literature on critical design across human-computer interaction, science and technology studies, anthropology and media studies. We will also connect our work with with the physical computing projects in Davidson and Rosner's DDG this spring and invite practitioners and academics working in this area to participate in our conversations. Please contact Professor Rosner at dkrosner@uw.edu for registration information.

Movement through Public Life
 
Our team will explore light as means of catalyzing new forms of creative engagement in underutilized public spaces such as dark stairwells or pathways. If you are interested in participating, please send an email to Daniela Rosner (dkrosner@uw.edu) with a copy of your resume/CV and a short statement expressing your qualifications and interests in the group. A background in qualitative research methods (interviews, observation, probes) and/or design sketching is needed. 

Socio-cultural Aspects of Maker and Hacker Cultures, Part 2 (Winter 2014)
 
Description: The rise of public sites for customizing and configuring one's own environment (makerspaces, hackerspaces) is changing how we see products and technologies in our world. This research will continue our work from last quarter tackling socio-cultural issues of self, thing, and environment and their relationship to design and technology development in light of these changes. We'll also question patterns of consumption and production in a world that increasingly accommodates mass customization. Theoretical framings and hands on activities will help organize our examination of these issues. Additional fieldwork, community engagement, and design interventions will be part of our study and will help us articulate the socio-cultural-technical-political stakes of this project.
Required to sign up for 2 credits. 
Group will meet Thursdays 4:30pm-5:30pm in room 429 (TAT Lab)

Socio-cultural Aspects of Maker and Hacker Cultures (Fall 2013)

The rise of public sites for customizing and configuring one's own environment (makerspaces, hackerspaces) is changing how we see products and technologies in our world. This group will tackle socio-cultural issues of self, thing, and environment and their relationship to design and technology development in light of these changes. We'll also question patterns of consumption and production in a world that increasingly accommodates mass customization. Theoretical framings and hands on activities will help organize our examination of these issues. Perspectives include readings from Suchman, (Judith) Butler, Haraway, and recent STS scholars. Additional fieldwork and community engagement will be part of our study and will help us articulate the socio-cultural-technical-political stakes of this project. Required to sign up for 2 credits. Group will meet Wednesdays 4pm-5:30pm in room 429 (TAT Lab). To request a seat in this group, please email both Beth Kolko (bkolko@uw.edu) and Daniela Rosner (dkrosner@uw.edu).

 
Reimagining Design Tools: Research through Design
The work of design pervades and profoundly shapes our everyday lives. Over the last few years, new tools for personal fabrication and collective design - from graphic communication to architecture - have enabled new forms of creative practice. This DRG will focus on building tools that help us better understand these changes. Through ideation, hands-on prototyping and implementation, we'll pose several questions related to the functional (what can be built and how?) and the symbolic (what ideas and actions can these tools help legitimate, challenge or make possible?).
Desired skills: hardware prototyping (e.g. Arduino, vibration and dynamics, microphones and acoustic actuators), software programming (Arduino, Java), mobile application prototyping (e.g. iOS). 
If interested in participating, please email your qualifications to Professor Daniela Rosner at dkrosner@uw.edu.

Design as Inquiry
This group will explore the design of novel interactive systems not for the sake of technology development but as a means of understanding social phenomena, from how artists use new technologies to create value and insight to how people engage public space to shape new modes of citizenship. 
We’ll need people with diverse skill sets:
  • Design: UX, IxD, UI
  • Software: Arduino, web, mobile
  • Electronics: digital & analog circuits
  • Mechanics: vibration and dynamics, microphones and acoustic actuators
For Winter 2015, we will focus on an exploration of three projects:
  • Research Study of Movement through Public Life: extend development of Trace, a GPS-based application that explores the potential of guided wandering, rather than directed navigation, as creative, public, and potentially political communication. A background in GIS and/or an interest in radical cartography and critical geography is a plus. 
  • Sound and Visual Fabrication: continue research investigating the design of an interface for carving sound waves into physical material.
  • Repair Research Study: use design interventions to examine mechanisms for enabling socially engaging repair practices (e.g., mends on tattered clothing).
  • If you are interested in participating, please send an email to Daniela Rosner (dkrosner@uw.edu) with a copy of your resume/CV and a short statement expressing your qualifications and interests in the group. Preference given to students willing to commit to 3 credit hours.

FizzLab: A Directed Design Group
 
This group will explore physical computing as a platform for integrating tools used in and around making. Phys­i­cal com­put­ing is the blend­ing of hard­ware and soft­ware engi­neer­ing—using micro-controllers, pro­gram­ming, sen­sors, elec­tronic devices, wearable technology, etc—to build inter­ac­tive sys­tems and envi­ron­ments. The focus of this research group is to make real-world projects and tools by design­ing, pro­to­typ­ing, and engi­neer­ing phys­i­cal com­put­ing systems.
 
The group should be thought of as a Directed Design Group, rather than research-oriented. We will make things the way a small design con­sul­tancy oper­ates—in a cre­ative, prag­matic, nim­ble, and col­lab­o­ra­tive team.
 
Each quar­ter a project team will tackle a new design chal­lenge. Some chal­lenges may span mul­ti­ple quar­ters. We’ll need peo­ple with diverse skill sets:
  • Design: UX, IxD, UI
  • Software: Arduino, web, mobile
  • Electronics: digital & analog circuits
  • Mechanics: vibration and dynamics, microphones and acoustic actuators
For Autumn 2014, we will focus on an exploration of three technology projects for making, using Arduino micro-controllers with printed circuits. Three projects currently underway are:
  • Trace: a GPS-based application that explores the potential of guided wandering rather than directed navigation as creative communication.
  • Scratch-Hear: an augmented milling-tool for creating sound annotations in physical material playable by scratching surfaces.
  • Sow-What: a printer for designing socially engaging mends on tattered clothing.
Other making projects are possible, depending on the interests and ideas of the FizzLab participants.
If you are interested in participating, please send an email to Daniela Rosner (dkrosner@uw.edu) and/or Andrew Davidson (adavid7@uw.edu) with a copy of your resume/CV and a short statement expressing your qualifications and interests in the group. Preference given to students willing to commit to 3 credit hours.