MIT Media Lab Masters Thesis 2011
Current employment technology typically relies on the concept of a CV or resumé - a highly precise and constructed document. The creation of this document requires intricate knowledge of a process that is often opaque to those living in developed nations, who rely on training and experience to write compelling CVʼs. For those living in developing countries, this process is more difficult, and for those that have no internet access or are illiterate, creating a first-world resumé is nearly impossible. That said, when first- world organizations in developing countries bring with them their expectations of hiring which may or may not fit with the natives of that country. We propose a system, “Konbit,” that creates a cultural and technological bridge between those with skills in developing countries and those with first-world expectations of potential employees. This platform allows literate or illiterate workers to describe their skills and life experiences as story-like messages in their native language, requires no technological upgrades from these workers, and transforms and offers this data as deep, humanized characterizations of potential employees. Non-profit organizations (NGOs) and government organizations (GOs) can search this data in a technologically modern format, viewing an automatically constructed resumé for each caller. While other systems attempt to create miniature CVʼs via SMS-based messaging, these systems are not accessible by the illiterate and impose western CV-based culture onto applicants, resulting in low-fidelity representations given that SMS text messages are by nature short and inappropriate for extensive data input.
Given the focus on the most disconnected workers, Konbit deployed and received data from over 10,000 people in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where the literacy rate, at the time of writing, was around 50% and the unemployment rate was more than 80%. This system was also beta-tested with 30 Haitian-Americans in Miami, Florida. The implications of the thesis will be relevant to any area - developed or developing - that is affected by illiteracy, poor training, or cultural gaps between workers and employers, and may serve as a more effective tool for employee characterization and interviewing in all job sectors.
UCI Masters Thesis 2007
Despite the wealth of discussions about the ideology of efficiency, individuals rarely reflect on how they personally define, evaluate, and act on the ideology of efficiency. We have few ways to conceptualize efficiency without resorting to global economics, social theory, or user studies, and as such it can be difficult to grasp how efficiency impacts our daily tasks, thought processes, and even moments of pleasure. The way I experience efficiency is potentially unique to me, not only because it impacts my life at the cultural and individual level, but also because instantiations of efficiency are subjective and personal. Abstractly, we are all affected by this ideology similarly; in practice, however, the ways it nuances my life are different than the ways it nuances yours. Artistic practice allows us to ground the abstract conceptualization of efficiency in individual experience unique to each person. I propose a genre of artifact design that allows the individual to explore the role of efficiency within the context of daily life, moving us away from abstract, objective views of the ideology of efficiency.
Every object has a story. Objects of design are the result of a complex history of iterations, design choices, motivations, assumptions, reworkings, impasses, etc. In Reflective Design (Sengers et al., 2005), we are encouraged to fuse reflection into design allowing it to shape, motivate, and inform our work; as a result, the stories behind reflectively-designed objects contain an even richer texture. Regrettably, the story is seldom visible by inspection of an object alone, and often is lost as the process of creation fades from the designer's memory. I propose that the simple act of telling an object's story via autobiography greatly enhances the practice of Reflective Design. Process reveals assumptions, philosophical commitments, the significant role of intuition, and other nuances that may be hidden from the creator, other designers and users. Additionally, documentation of process may help prevent a misunderstanding or misappropriating of its Critical Design elements (Sengers et al., 2005).
This paper describes a mobile music player, PersonalSoundtrack, that makes real-time choices of music based on user pace. Standard playlists are non- interactive streams of previously chosen music, insensitive to user context and requiring explicit user input to find suitable songs. The context-aware mobile music player described here works with its owner's library to select music in real-time based on a taxonomy of attributes and contextual information derived from an accelerometer connected wirelessly to a laptop carried under the arm. We are in the process of evaluating this prototype with 25 users who will compare the system's context-sensitive playlist to random shuffle. On the basis of user feedback and analysis, a hand-held device will be implemented for testing in less constrained mobile scenarios. PersonalSoundtrack allows users to experience their music with both mind and body, providing a unique embodied experience of their personal music library. In mobile environments where attention is a limited resource, users can spend less time deciding what music to enjoy and more time enjoying it.