Speculating Beyond Data Capitalism
In this DRG, we will take a critical look at the labor of data workers and its relationship to wider systems of oppression. Data are essential for the creation and functioning of the software we use every day, but how are data produced, managed, and cleaned? Who does that labor and under what conditions?
We will read about and discuss topics such as data capitalism, data colonialism, the labor that goes into producing and managing data, the materiality of data and the work needed to maintain and repair its physical infrastructures, and designing for alternatives. These readings will be contextualized in case studies on different kinds of data labor, such as Amazon Mechanical Turk workers who train machine learning models and content moderators on social media platforms.
This DRG has three objectives: (1) to discuss these topics through the lenses of anti-capitalism, post-colonial theory, feminist technoscience, and critical data studies, (2) to write design fictions to speculate about alternative futures, and (3) to learn about other methods that we can use in our future work.
Format and output of the DRG:
This DRG is 2-3 credits.
Over the course of the quarter, we will discuss readings, and some weeks we will have researchers and/or activists join us as discussants. In the latter half of the quarter, we will write and workshop short design fictions as tools for thinking about how to design more equitable alternatives and provide critiques of existing systems.
At the end of the DRG, we will share out our design fictions, potentially as a contribution to a conference or journal, or as its own website.
We encourage people with any level of experience with these topics to apply. The DRG will be 1.5 hours in length once a week at either 10-11:30am PT on Mondays or Thursdays, depending on the availability of the DRG members. If you are interested but neither of those times work for you, we still encourage you to apply because we may be able to find a different time.
Please email Caitie Lustig at email@example.com by March 23 with a short description of why you would like to join the DRG--your interest in the DRG need not be academic, and we welcome you sharing your personal interest in the DRG. Please also state your availability. Applicants will be notified of whether they were accepted on March 24.
The Cost of Culture: Diverse and Multicultural Community Interaction with Financial Technology Applications
Led by: Jay Cunningham, PhD Student | Faculty Sponsors: Julie Kientz, Daniela Rosner
2 credits | Virtual via Zoom | Meeting Day/Time: TBD
This DRG is seeking 3-4 dedicated and enthusiastic students to join in supporting this proposed study. Students from all levels (BS - PhD) are invited to apply and participate in this project. The group will conduct applied research outlined by the study agenda to investigate the relational engagement among low-resourced ethnic minority and multicultural communities and their interaction with financial technology (fintech) applications. This study is concerned with the cultural and communal relativity embodied by financial technology, specifically with diverse underserved populations.
Participation in assisting with this study will entail surveying, interviewing, collaborating and collecting oral and written histories with participant experts on experiences and circumstances that influence their use of fintech applications. This also includes obtaining consent and assisting with performing all study procedures. Participants will have had coursework in research methods, complete an orientation to human subjects protections given by the UW, and will receive training from graduate student project lead on obtaining consent and debriefing subjects.
Impact & Affordances:
This project will provide researchers with data and stories provided by participants that grant perspective into their choice of personal finance and banking technology services and the impacts of its use in their lives. Findings of this project will guide further research to triangulate the affordances of culturally relative/sensitive technical systems design and highlight consequences of biased financial technology and the impact on low-resourced ethnic minority and multicultural communities.
Additional Background & Motivation:
This project serves as a preliminary analysis toward examining the role that big tech plays in the position of power, ethics, equity, and sociality in the design, development, and deployment of AI systems. With specific reference to financial technology firms (fin-tech), AI systems are based on statistical and probability models along with predictive analytics to forecast consumer performance. Extensive research has shown that bias in AI systems reflect historical patterns of discrimination and oppression long influenced by a dominant culture; which in the U.S defaults to white, heterosexual, middle-to-upper class men. Thus, when AI tools make decisions based on predominant consumers’ data, fin-tech must urgently consider the effects of low-resourced ethnic minority and multicultural communities and whether the decisions are transparent and explainable. Across the U.S.,these communities are less likely to possess adequate financial literacy, generational and community wealth, and access to financial resources and education. Though previous work in community cultural wealth has examined the relationship between people, equity, and finances, the role of computation in this process remains unclear. We contribute to this work by exploring how a study of fintech practices among diverse underserved populations may foster equity-centered sociotechnical change.
Community, Capacity, and Collective Care in Practice
Led by Josephine Hoy and Professor Daniela Rosner
Note this DRG is at capacity and no longer accepting applications.
Living within the convergence of many ongoing and escalating crises, we need each other more than ever.
This DRG proposes an experiment in technology-mediated collective care to support each other across geographic and temporal distance and in alignment with public health guidance. Over the course of Winter quarter, we will explore and engage in practices of collective care with the goal of providing for ourselves during this time of crisis and growing our community’s capacity to join with other groups in meaningful solidarity efforts for social justice.
We will adopt and adapt technologies (of many types) in order to provide safe, supportive, and capacity-building care for each other. We will also explore auto-ethnographic methods and/or reflective exercises in order to articulate experiential learnings, contribute to an open research archive, and work to develop a toolkit that we can share with and beyond our HCDE community.
In addition to our practice and synthesis, we will read to engage with knowledge produced within feminist, disability justice, community organizing, and mutual aid traditions. Together, we will probe questions like:
- What does care look like? Whose care/giving is valued? Whose care needs are viewed as burdensome? Who provides care? Who is likely to be denied care?
- What tools and skills do we have readily available to help us meet each others’ emotional and survival needs remotely?
- How might attending to care help us identify structural forces of oppression that are causing harm to people within our community?
- How do our tools and skills allow us to provide support in a way that begins to dismantle oppressive structures and build alternatives?
- What tactics can we use to come together across lines of difference?
- How might we build our own capacity so that we can extend our care webs or create new ones beyond HCDE?
- What struggles and frustrations do we encounter in this work and what can we learn from them?
This project is part of an ongoing research project organized by HCDE Ph.D. student Joey Hoy on the role of digital technology in supporting mutual aid.
Requirements: Open to all interested HCDE students who are willing to commit to (and evolve!) our DRG’s community agreements.
We will plan to meet for up to 1.5 hours each week via Zoom and hold asynchronous check-ins. Approximately 2 additional hours of engagement each week will be expected outside of our meeting times. A group meeting time will be decided based on schedules and interest. Please reach out to us with any accessibility needs so that we can meet them!
This DRG is currently at capacity. Please email Joey (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions.
This DRG has ~7 students. If you’re not able to participate this quarter but are interested in materials, receiving updates, or starting your own parallel version of this project, please feel welcome to reach out!