Design for Diversity: The Case of Ed / Alex Gil

In this case study, Gil gives a short description of the design philosophies behind Ed, a system for producing online digital editions. These design philosophies focus on the concept of minimal computing, which includes a holistic analysis of overall system costs in creating and, as importantly, maintaining online resources. The minimal computing approach analyzes these overall costs in the context of historical and current global inequalities in access to resources, including technologies, and suggests a way forward that increases local control while decreasing long-term maintenance costs.


Más Tecnologia, Más Cambio?: Investigating an Educational Technology Project in Rural Peru / Emeline Therias, Jon Bird, Paul Marshall

Excellent analysis of use of educational technology in rural Peru, questioning many basic assumptions of programs based on simple hardware distribution rather than addressing social settings and context. Useful for considering digital archival projects where community partners are in areas with little hardware and network service. Also provides analysis of factors leading to success, again providing guidance for community archives projects where there may be participants with a variety of hardware and network access.

Therias, Emeline, Jon Bird, and Paul Marshall. 2015. “Más Tecnologia, Más Cambio?: Investigating an Educational Technology Project in Rural Peru.” In Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - CHI ’15, 447–56. Seoul, Republic of Korea: ACM Press.

Diversifying the Digital Historical Record

The Diversifying the Digital Historical Record website has essential coverage of a series of national forums, led by co-PIs Michelle Caswell and Bergis Jules, “focusing on community archives integration in a national digital platform and the potential impact for representation of diverse communities in our digital cultural heritage.” See also the publications and final report with important conclusions, particularly for software development, including for example that “Rather than create a central digital repository for community archival materials, community archives practitioners instead express a need for a structured online space to create a network, share resources and best practices, and leverage each other’s expertise.”

User Participation and Democracy: A Discussion of Scandinavian Research on System Development / Gro Bjerknes and Tone Bratteteig

Excellent introduction to the history of and philosophical underpinnings of Scandinavian participatory design, a foundational movement for current participatory design, values in design, and critical technical practice movements. Notable for emphasizing the political nature of the practice of participatory design, in that in its beginnings it was seen as a method for democratizing the workplace. This article, written in 1995, suggests that a move towards ethics de-emphasizes the political aims of earlier participatory design projects, and that political (i.e. social justice) aims should be re-introduced. An excellent reading that will expose systems designers to the long history of participatory and user-centered design that would be well-paired with more recent readings that incorporate additional intersectional analyses, allowing system designers to contrast the Scandinavian emphasis on a class analysis (through a focus on the democratic rights of workers) with later work incorporating race, gender, and disability.

Bjerknes, Gro, and Tone Bratteteig. 1995. “User Participation and Democracy: A Discussion of Scandinavian Research on System Development” 7: 27.

See No Evil / Miriam Posner

Software helps companies coordinate the supply chains that sustain global capitalism. How does the code work—and what does it conceal? Posner’s article is both brilliant and approachable, investigating the ramifications of the modular design of supply-chain software: the modular design of both the code and the supply chain make it impossible to fully know what happens at all levels of the supply chain, and thereby makes it impossible to ensure fair labor practices. This article pairs particularly well with discussions of object-oriented programming models.

Posner, Miriam. 2018. “See No Evil.” Logic Magazine, August 7, 2018.