Designing for Emotional Meaning-Making with Data
Sensor technologies–from smart watches to sensors hidden in walls or furniture–increasingly produce biodata about human bodies and behaviors, and even claim to offer insights into human emotions. Trying to use data science approaches to understand the complexity of human emotional experiences can lead to challenges and ethical issues. In this talk we’ll explore how design research methods can help address these challenges and ethical issues by enabling humans to take a more active role in emotional meaning-making with their own data. We’ll examine how realtime interactive biodata displays that leverage unusual materials, such as color-changing fabric or sonic furniture, can invite more social, sensitive, and nuanced forms of biodata analysis. Finally, we’ll discuss what role design research can play in imagining and striving for more hopeful, just, and affirmative biopolitical possibilities with biodata.
Noura Howell is an assistant professor in Digital Media at Georgia Tech. She completed her PhD at the University of California, Berkeley, where she was a member of the BioSENSE lab. Previously she has worked as a human-centered designer and engineer at the MIT Media Lab, Intel Labs, Microsoft, and The Echo Nest. Her design research explores biodata–data about human bodies and behaviors–and in particular biodata pertaining to emotions. What can (and can’t) biodata reveal about how people feel, and how might biodata reshape sense of self and social relations? How might biodata technologies better accommodate the richness and diversity of lived emotional experiences? Howell’s work investigates this through designing, building, and deploying interactive realtime biodata displays that invite alternative forms of emotional meaning-making with biodata.
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