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Sometime to Return

As we look at the hype of AI, where did it come from, what does it have to do with UX design? Turns out, the two have a lot to do with each other, starting long before the web was a twinkle in Sir Tim Berners Lee’s eye. In this talk,
I’ll blow up the history of thrilling collaborations between architects, designers, and technologists since the 1950s, future visions of what it would be like to navigate and inhabit intelligent worlds—ideas that put in place the web and how we design for it. I’ll question where we’re from as web folk and where we’re going. (Or as Dave Pirner sings in the Soul Asylum single that served as the inspiration for this talk’s title, “The hourglass is draining fast/
It knows no future holds no past/And all this too will come to pass.”)

This year, you can watch the keynote address on our YouTube live stream!

The Already Augmented and Virtually Real

What happens when technology and the imaginary, and all its biases collide to create the newest form of digital innovation? In this talk Dr. Jade E. Davis explores why progression that seems forward thinking based solely on technology will perpetually increase the distance between people by design. Focusing on two of the most anticipated digital technologies in recent memory—virtual and augmented reality—she will examine who digital media forget, leave behind, and push forward. She will also discuss why it’s important to close these gaps if we want to move forward as a society.

This year, you can watch the keynote address on our YouTube live stream!

Jade E. Davis

Dr. Jade E. Davis spends a lot of time thinking about how tech becomes invisible in everyday life and how it affects intrahuman interaction. She is fascinated by the accident built into, erasure caused by, and imaginary world of emerging technologies and how they recreate cultural biases. Her research focuses on questions of multi-generational trauma and crisis and the stories we’ve inherited through technology in the digital age. In her day to day life she works on bringing technology into formal learning spaces as ethically and equitably as possible. Her talks, featured most notably at Theorizing the Web, combine the traditional talk format with play and performance. Her work on digital media in higher education has been featured on the Digital Media and Learning Central blog.

Molly Wright Steenson

Dr. Molly Wright Steenson is a designer, author, professor, and international speaker whose work focuses on the intersection of design, architecture, and artificial intelligence. She is the author of Architectural Intelligence: How Designers and Architects Created the Digital Landscape (MIT Press, 2017), which tells the radical history of AI’s impact on design and architecture and how it poured the foundation for contemporary digital design. She cut her teeth on the web in 1994 and has since worked with groundbreaking studios, consultancies, and corporations. Dr. Steenson is an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design, with a courtesy appointment in the School of Architecture. Previously, she was an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, adjunct faculty at Art Center in Pasadena, CA, and an associate professor at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea in Italy. She holds a PhD in architecture from Princeton University and a master’s in architectural history from Yale. St. Paul is her hometown.

Photo credit: Ross Mantle

What Can We Learn from Digital #Fail(ures)?

The idea that we will become free through technology is not new. However, we do not live in a world that is a blank slate. Hierarchies of power are reproduced and enacted through digital technologies. The ways in which our everyday lives are digitized into easily stored and repurposed bits of information actually heightens control and surveillance: as we are tracked and categorized, power-laden boundaries across race, gender, and class become digital enclosures.

Technology is not neutral. In this talk, Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble from the UCLA Department of Information Studies will discuss the importance of new models of intervention and resistance. By illuminating linkages to power struggles over values, particularly in the context of the digital, we can re-examine information contexts and realize we have great responsibility and the imperative to act.

Using Data and Digital Activism to End Police Violence

Data can be a powerful tool to tell the truth about urgent issues impacting communities and to identify solutions to those issues. Samuel will present how he’s used data, in collaboration with activists across the country, to visualize the scale of police violence in America and advance policy goals within the Black Lives Matter movement through the Mapping Police Violence and Campaign Zero projects. He’ll demonstrate how data can be collected, analyzed, and visualized in ways that center the communities most impacted and that empower communities with actionable information to effectively advocate for systemic change.

Safiya Noble

Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble is an assistant professor in the Department of Information Studies in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA, and holds appointments in the Departments of African American Studies, Gender Studies, and Education. Her research on the design and use of applications on the Internet is at the intersection of race, gender, culture, and technology. Her monograph, Algorithms of Oppression: Data Discrimination in the Digital Age explores racist and sexist algorithmic bias in search engines like Google (NYU Press, 2017). She serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies, and is the co-editor of two edited books: The Intersectional Internet: Race, Sex, Culture and Class Online with Brendesha Tynes, and Emotions, Technology & Design with Sharon Tettegah. She is the recipient of a Hellman Fellowship and the UCLA Early Career Award.

Samuel Sinyangwe

Samuel Sinyangwe is a policy analyst and data scientist who works with communities of color to fight systemic racism through cutting-edge policies and strategies. Sam has supported movement activists across the country to collect and use data as a tool for fighting police violence through Mapping Police Violence and has co-launched Campaign Zero, a comprehensive policy platform to end police violence. Previously, Sam worked at PolicyLink to support a national network of 61 Promise Neighborhoods communities to build cradle-to-career systems of support for low-income families. He also worked with city leaders, youth activists and community organizations develop comprehensive agendas to achieve quality education, health, and justice for young black men. Sam grew up in Orlando, FL, and has been involved in organizing and advocacy since he was in high school. He graduated from Stanford University, where he studied how race and racism impact the U.S. political system.

Everybody Hurts: Content for Kindness

We all want interfaces that feel human—where the content is friendly and everything flows right along. But being human isn’t just about being breezy. Every user who interacts with your site comes there with personal histories—with pain and problems, with past traumas or present crises. How can we take our users’ vulnerabilities, triggers, and touchy subjects into account when we don’t even know what they are? What would it mean to optimize not just for seamlessness, but for kindness? This talk will show you how clear intentions and compassionate communication can strengthen everything from form questions to headlines to site structures.

Banish Your Inner Critic

Your inner critic is an unconscious deterrent that stands between the seeds of great ideas and the fruits of achievement, keeping you stuck by telling you you’re just faking it, that others have more talent, that you’ll never achieve the success you seek. Let’s discover how to anatomize this pernicious inner force, and then learn techniques to banish this critic so that you can have the mental space and energy to let your true talents emerge — and help you be a badass with your work.

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