Civic engagement is changing: new venues of public participation are arising out of the development and mass-availability of new mobile technologies and social media; new practices of governance and democratic discourse are becoming possible with the mass collection and representation of data; new interaction design practices are emerging from working directly in public and community settings. The present fascination with data and with the distributed tools for collecting, representing, and analyzing data create a mess of new opportunities and challenges for designing mobile computing artifacts that support community and civic and engagement. These are the present challenges of defining and designing digital civics.
I established the Participatory Publics Lab – PPL – at Georgia Tech in order to work with students and community members to explore the possibilities of digital civics. Together, we build richly interactive and data-driven websites, mobile apps, sensing platforms, and analytic tools that support collective action through community and civic engagement. We do this through the practice of participatory design where community members are integral to the design process: co-creating new artifacts and technical forms to assert identity, to contend with local issues, and to respond to community emotions, beliefs, and desires. The research is based in local communities and neighborhoods with active partnerships with the City of Atlanta, and neighborhoods surrounding the Georgia Tech campus.
My research touches a number of different domains, including: Human-Computer Interaction, Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, Social Computing, Urban Informatics, Science and Technology Studies, Participatory Design, Design Research.