Relating to the Ineffable: Liberatory Tarot Designs and Practices

University of Washington
December 2021 to present

Extending work on Tarot as a technology (Wu, 2020), we see possibilities for Tarot deck creation as a spiritual, divinatory, or reflective practice but also as a technology of collective care and a form of speculative and critical design (as an artifact through which Tarot readers might engage in world-building or critical inquiry). In this qualitative study, we will explore the motivations and inspirations of creators who—in designing their own Tarot decks-have produced artifacts that reject and counter the Tarot’s history of white, abled, heteronormative imagery, and/or center an ethos of social justice. Through semi-structured interviews, we hope to further explore the phenomena as one of both individual agency and community-building.

Algorithmic Care

AI Now
June 2020 to June 2021

I worked on a project on narratives AI and health. My group and I did a “close reading” of three behavioral health datasets to critically examine the sociotechnical limitations, implications, and narratives of AI behavioral health systems: what these datasets leave out and where their construction does not align with lived experiences.

Stemming the Spread of COVID-19: Coordinating Remote Work for Social Distancing

University of Washington
March 2020 to present

We are exploring how people are coordinating to support remote working and social distancing during COVID-19. We are interested in how people work together to meet the practical, social, and emotional needs of their work communities during a sudden transition to remote work. We are studying a number of groups, networks, and departments at the University of Washington. We are conducting this research via interviews, surveys, and participant observation.

Algorithmic Mediation for Diversity

eScience, University of Washington
September 2019 to present

This project is on how algorithms are used to promote diversity. I am interviewing researchers involved with creating and using one such algorithm to learn about the social dynamics and ethics of using algorithmic mediation. I also conducted participant observation with data scientists and AI/ML researchers. This project also has a literature review component, comparing discussions of fairness and bias in computer science literature with the discussions in critical computational studies.

Research on Facebook Memories users

University of Colorado Boulder
July 2019 to September 2021

I recruited and conducted interviews with 20 Facebook users about sensitive curated content, such as death or divorce, that they saw through Facebook’s Memories feature. I conducted inductive coding and used thematic analysis on interviews.

Full Time Employees’ Experiences with Gig Economy

Microsoft Research
April 2019 to July 2019

The goal of this study was to learn about the experiences of full-time employees (FTEs) who hire gig economy workers. I interviewed 36 full time employees about their experiences with the gig economy and conducted participant observation on the gig platform itself.

Visualizing Bipolar Disorder

University of Washington
June 2018 to present

This project is in collaboration with the University of Washington, University of Colorado, Boulder, and Stanford University. It focuses on developing better ways to represent bipolar people’s lived experiences through visualizations. This project involved three rounds of interviews with bipolar people, using visual elicitations to examine how participants monitored their rhythms. My role in this project was to analyze interviews, and I coauthored a CHI 2019 paper.

Algorithmic Authority of the Bitcoin Blockchain

University of California, Irvine
January 2015 to June 2018

In this thesis, I expanded on the concept of algorithmic authority, a concept that I introduced in earlier work to understand the role of algorithms in daily life. Algorithmic authority is the legitimate power of algorithms to direct human action and to impact which information is considered true. Through a study of the users of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, I explored what it means to trust in algorithmic authority in an open source, decentralized system in contrast to the authority of centralized and corporate software. My study of the Bitcoin community utilized data from interviews, a survey, and observation of offline and online space.

Smart Contracts

University of California, Irvine
June 2016 to September 2016

“Smart contracts” are contracts that are written in code and automatically enforced when certain conditions are met. I researched the sociotechnical implications of these smart contracts in collaboration with the Institute for Money, Technology & Financial Inclusion.

User Communities of Practice

University of California, Irvine
April 2015 to June 2015

This research project was funded by a large design company, looking at how their users develop communities of practice and expertise through online spaces. In this project, I analyzed forum posts and websites used by these users, interviewed employees of the company, interviewed expert users, and met with the company to learn about how they understood their users.

Remote Occupation Socialization

University of California, Irvine
June 2013-August 2013; September 2014 to March, 2015

This project is a multi-sited ethnographic study of workers who learn their the norms and skills of their occupation in remote locations, away from the main offices of their company, or in places away from the cultural hubs of their occupational community. As a part of this project, I qualitatively coded the interview data from Mexican entrepreneurs who had developed or worked in tech start ups, both in Silicon Valley and in Mexico. I also have worked on researching how our findings might contribute to new understandings of the notion of communities of practice. I am beginning research on a large company’s community of practice in which I will conduct interviews and practice participant observation.

Study of Bitcoin Users

University of California, Irvine
September 2012 to January 2015

Given the current economic unrest in the United States and around the world, there has been an increased interested in alternative economic systems—one such example that came out of this was Bitcoin, a form of digital currency introduced in 2009. Bitcoin is seen as a relatively unique form of currency because it does not rely on a government or centralized authority for regulation or value. This project examines why users say that they trust the algorithms of Bitcoin’s code and the nuances of this trust. In the course of researching this project, I have explored what the increasing power of code and algorithms mean for society.

Expressive Topologies (Feverbook)

University of California, Irvine
September 2012 to Present

This project examined how knowledge can be expressed in a topological format and the future of academic publishing by drawing from the work of Mary Douglas, Peter Sloterdijk, Jacques Lacan, and many others. In this project we envisioned the ways in which knowledge can be represented in interactive ways that go beyond just text. We worked on a website that represented social networking sites as archives by using the themes from Derrida’s Archive Fever. This is an interactive website that resembles a particular famous social media website. We used this website to tell a story to visitors and to encourage them to think about the ways in which identity can be represented through the archive. The website is written in HTML, CSS, and AJAX. In the course of developing this website, I supervised an undergraduate worker.

M4L (Music for Labs)

University of California, Irvine
January 2012 to Present

How do we convey knowledge through music? Can we convey information about presence through music? How does information about presence affect how people work and research together? In this project, we build upon research in computer supportive collaborative work and ubiquitous computing to explore these questions. We used RFID tags to detect when lab members entered and left the lab. My work on the system was centered around creating the technical implementation of this system. Each lab member had an audio identifier that allowed the system to detect their presence and play identifying music to announce their arrival or departure.

Event Detection through Twitter Updates

University of California, Irvine
June 2010 to September 2010

In 2010, over 65 million tweets were being posted a day, which made it a rich site for data analysis. In this project, I scraped Twitter using Python and analyzed with statistical methods in order to use Twitter to detect when unusual events were taking place in a certain location. Users could subscribe to various locations and get notified when events happened in that location, in particular, this would let users know when emergencies were taking place.

*bus (Starbus)

University of Washington
September 2007 to June 2009

This project grew out of my senior capstone work on technology for developing regions. In many regions of the world, the public transportation system is unreliable and difficult to use. One such place is Kyrgyzstan where the streets have multiple names, there are no set bus stops, and there is no set bus schedule. To make the bus system more convenient and easier to use, we developed a low-cost, low-infrastructure bus tracking system. We did not assume that users would have smart phones and so our system only relied on SMS. Users could query the system for when their bus would arrive and the arrival time would be calculated from the GPS location of the bus. A pilot run of this project took place in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. My work in this project centered around working on the system design and the integration of the microcontroller and GPS/GSM unit for the devices that went on the buses.

Online Dublin Computer Science Summer School

University College Dublin
June 2007 to September 2007

The Online Dublin Computer Science Summer School was an undergraduate research internship at University College Dublin. My work as part of this program built upon the work done at Intel Research Seattle on activity detection with RFID. I developed a glove that contained an RFID reader and tried to detect user actions based on what objects they touched. The goal of this project was to develop this specifically for users with memory loss or dementia who may be forgetful in the middle of performing a complex task. The system reminded users what they were doing when it seemed that they had hesitated for too long. While working on this research, I also presented my work to industry professionals and academics. I also led a team of students in a competition to develop a website for our program.

RFID Ecosystem

University of Washington
September 2007 to January 2008

The RFID Ecosystem explored the ways in which RFID technology could be used to track human behavior in useful and ethical ways. The project drew from ubiquitous computing, database, privacy, and middleware research. One major issue for the project was processing massive amounts of sensitive data. Before the system was in wide use, we needed ways to simulate heavy usage. I created a simulator that generated tag read events based on a number of parameters and a user-supplied Voronoi graph which mapped out where the RFID antennas were located as well as where tags could be located. The simulator data could be generated to a log file or a database for benchmarking and debugging purposes.