Ph.D. in the Digital Media Program of the school of Literature, Media, and Communication at Ivan Allen College
I like digital media because it’s by nature formless. Manipulating code or electronics is a creative act on an order that is hard to find in other places. While constraints are a part of any system, figuring out a clean way to solve a problem elegantly is appealing. On top of that, a deeply reflexive obligation to media forms and history, along with the corresponding theoretical contexts means that novelty for novelty’s sake won’t go unchallenged. Finally, its clear that digital media tools and forms are a huge part of our everyday lives, but are probably under theorized in their goals, values, and meanings. I'd like to help figure that stuff out.
I have a master's degree from New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program, and was a member of the Culturally Embedded Computing research group at Cornell University, where I got a bachelor's degree in Science and Technology Studies with a minor in Information Science.
I grew up in Ithaca, New York, which is home to Ecovillage at Ithaca, a collaborative community much like the kinds I study now. I certainly didn't expect it to become the topic of my dissertation, however!
Right now, I'm working on my dissertation project. It is a research through design project that considers emerging "smart home" technologies and their relationship to alternative living arrangements, particularly cohousing communities. Cohousing is a form of semi-communal living where private homes lie around shared space. Each residence is self-sufficient, but together the community can offer social support that would otherwise be missing. Cohousing communities typically feature a common house, which may include a industrial-scale kitchen and large dining area for common meals, laundry facilities, recreational spaces, or even more unusual features, such as a wood shop. Part of my research asks "what would an Internet of Things look like if it was spread across multiple houses but only one home?" Cohousing communities offer a perspective to critique existing IoT practice as well as a site for producing design work that generates local, community-driven alternatives. I think that smart home technologies are especially interesting as they reflect how particular social values and corporate visions are being built into homes and everyday life.
My hope is that involving different kinds of perspectives in the process of technology design can help to produce broader kinds of technology in general. I think that cohousing in particular provides an interesting model for understanding how communities might want or use technology to serve their social needs in novel ways. In this context, understanding and designing for community-building within cohousing communities would become one way to consider future service provisioning in a smart village, town, or city.
The Digital Media department is at an interesting confluence of a number of traditions. It provokes forward-looking technical practice and novel forms, while remaining rooted in traditional media studies and theoretical contexts. One thing that I like in general is that technologies are taken for granted: in many cases, it feels to me that the technologies themselves are the point of interest, to the detriment of other aspects of work. Here, conceptual quality is paramount, and the technical implementation comes second, and flows from the project’s aims.
I think that LMC specifically and Ivan Allen more broadly is a really excellent place for media practitioners to do a deeper dive into theoretical implications with and practical applications to their work. It’s a safe place to experiment, probe, and expand on existing work, and is receptive to a wide variety of mediums. The faculty diversity is huge, meaning that there is a wide variety of perspectives to appeal to or to (in some cases) justify how your work operates. As a part of a literature department in a technical school, we find ourselves in an interesting seam where neither side really knows what to do with us, and the freedom to explore is liberating.
“The faculty diversity is huge, meaning that there is a wide variety of perspectives to appeal to or to (in some cases) justify how your work operates.”
When I’m not working, I like to follow club soccer, and support Tottenham Hotspur. I also love going to a good Farmer’s Market. My favorite technology is the alphabet, followed closely by iPhones.