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Looking Out from the Stall: Hygiene Resources, Maintenance, and the Internet of Things

QTC Thursdays with Sarah Fox: on reimagining IoT with activists and staff

2019.11.01 | Kate Andersen

Date Thu 14 Nov
Time 14:15 16:00
Location The small Auditorium, Incuba Science Park, Building 5510, Room 104, Aabogade 15, Aarhus N

Restrooms may appear far from contemporary sites of innovation. But over the past decade, corporations and public institutions have begun developing internet of things (IoT) technologies for these spaces in ways that increasingly define people's experiences of hygiene resources. Drawing on a 3-year multi-sited ethnographic study, Sarah Fox will discuss how digital technologies entwine with existing forms of collaborative labor to sharpen managerial control of public restroom access and maintenance. Informed by this work, she will describe her collaboration with local activists and custodial staff to reimagine these technologies. Across 18 months throughout the city of Seattle, she developed and deployed a networked sensor designed to support the needs of people without regular access to everyday hygiene resources. This work highlights and contends with a tendency for IoT devices to prioritize concerns for cost-reducing efficiencies and regulatory techniques, rather than support collective responsibility—a concern of increasing importance as design and human-computer scholarship attends to data ethics in public life.

Sarah Fox is a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute. Her research focuses on how technological artifacts challenge or propagate social exclusions, by examining existing systems and building alternatives. Her work has earned awards in leading computing venues including ACM CSCW, CHI, and DIS, and has been featured in the Journal of Peer Production and New Media and Society. She holds a Ph.D. in Human Centered Design & Engineering from the University of Washington and has worked in design research at Microsoft Research, Google, and Intel Labs.

Lecture / talk, CC, Afd. for Digital Design og Informationsvidenskab