Come work with us! Open postdoc position

The Information School at the University of Michigan is recruiting a post-doctoral researcher to work on a NSF-funded project centered around ethnographic research in the American Midwest, China, and Taiwan about contemporary shifts in making, tech entrepreneurship, research through design, and IT policy. The hired candidate will work with Assistant Professor Silvia Lindtner at the Information School at the University of Michigan and in close collaboration with Associate Professors Jeff Bardzell and Shaowen Bardzell at Indiana University. The post-doc is a full-time position available for at least one year, with the possibility of extension. Salary and benefits are competitive. Start date: fall 2017. Application Deadline: April 15, 2017.

Requirements:

  • PhD awarded by anticipated start date (fall 2017) in fields such as information studies, anthropology, STS, media studies, communication studies, cultural geography, history or other related disciplines.
  • Outstanding skills in ethnographic research
  • Strong publication record
  • Commitment to work collaboratively on research and writing
  • Excitement about working with an interdisciplinary team

Preferences:

  • Intermediate or higher Chinese language proficiency
  • Familiarity with theories and approaches in feminist studies, STS, China and Southeast Asian Studies, and Anthropology

To apply:

Interested applicants should send a single pdf document to Silvia Lindtner (lindtner@umich.edu). Applicants should include a one-page letter of interest, CV, a writing sample, and the name and contact information of three references.

 

Details:
The post-doc will collaborate on a NSF-funded project on the practices and visions of maker and entrepreneurship cultures. Through ethnographic research, hands-on design workshops, and international comparison, this project examines how making and entrepreneurship are envisioned to reshape economic, technological, and social futures across regions. The project explores how regions typically thought of as the technology periphery both draw from and challenge dominant approaches to innovation in familiar tech hubs like Silicon Valley. The specific focus is on regions in Asia and the American Midwest. The goal of this project is to contribute to discussions that place models of technology innovation and design in relationship to histories, cultures, and technopolitical processes. This includes debates around non-linear stories of technological progress, creativity, and design. This research will contribute to a growing body of research focused on investigating the tools, techniques, political work, and social organization of start-ups, maker/hacker collectives, and repair practices by providing both an ethnographic foundation and technological insights.

 

The location of the post-doc is in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The successful candidate is expected to travel for research to Asia and/or regions in the Midwest, work with PI and Co-PIs on analysis and dissemination of findings, as well as support the PI in coordination and management of the cross-institutional collaboration. At the University of Michigan, the postdoctoral researcher will be part of a vibrant interdisciplinary research community at the Information School and will have opportunities to work with researchers at the Tech Culture Matters Research Group, the Science and Technology Studies Program, the Michigan Interactive and Social Computing Research Group, the Center for Chinese Studies, and other similar programs.

More details here.

 

Critical making workshop with DoIIIT lab – Part 1

By Seyram Avle

critical making DoIIIT
critical making DoIIIT

20161018_104920The Designers of Interactive, Intelligent, Internet of Things (DoIIIT) is a group of faculty and students at the University of Michigan who are “passionate about interactive, intelligent and Internet of things (IoT)”. Two members of the tcm research collective are founding members of this group (Silvia Lindnter is one of the faculty sponsors, Cindy Lin is on the programing board of PhD students).

Last week (Oct 17 -18) they hosted a two-day workshop on critical making and body politics, with participation from largely MSI and Phd students in UMSI and a panel including Leah Buechley (creator of the LilyPad Arduino and former MIT professor), Sophia Brueckner (Assistant professor at the Stamps school of art & design and also previously at MIT), Erik Hofer (UMSI’s CIO and a clinical assistant professor) as well as Nick Tobier (Professor at Stamps and founder of a Detroit makerspace).

The workshop began with an introduction of key concepts in critical making and the theme of body politics to participants. Jasmine Jones did a great job of underscoring how objects made from a critical making perspective are often speculative and meant to provoke reflection on a key idea. This was emphasized during the segment of the workshop in which teams came up with a project. Prior to these teams being formed, there were discussions (zip.crit) about provocative techs (mostly wearables eg. digitsole, Samsung gear S2, etc). breakout discussions were on body politics and 1) health 2) culture 3) bio-hacking and 4) personal informatics.

This sort of active group engagement went on throughout the workshop. Group projects were decided by people teaming up projects they had co-signed during a brainstorming session. My group, made up of 2 MSI students and 2 postdocs, created a wearable that is to share emotion at a distance. One of the assumptions we were taking aim at is the ubiquity and constant nature of communication notifications. We also wanted to question the idea whether emotion can be communicated effectively through technologies. Our prototype used a laser cut wood pendant with a pressure sensor that sends a signal to trigger some activity over the internet to a device elsewhere with a tactile component. We also made a heart shaped brooch with paper and an led light based on the same idea. We wanted a wearable that the user could decide when to use and hence store information about the user instead of constantly tracking. On the output end, the options include a bubble blower, lava lamp or anything else that could give show that whoever it was connected to on the wearable end had thought about them and wanted to share an emotion. We deliberately left it ambiguous to get people thinking about what kind of emotion was being communicated. So for example, if I saw a cute puppy that I think my nephew would love, I can push the pendant and a bubble blower in his parent’s living room would send out bubbles that he can run around the room chasing after. We wanted a fixed output to again counter the constant notification and communication we have come to expect with mobile phones and other wearables.

Other groups had similar emotion sharing projects. One signaled by LED lights on sunglasses if a person was open to talking to someone. One really cool one wanted to push the idea that death is a finality and created a gizmo that essentially allows the living to visit the places a recently passed person had visited. The device is carried on the living, vibrates when they get to where the dead had been and they get to see through a small screen videos/pictures of the person.

Overall, this was a fun workshop with a range of designers and techies quite open to the possibilities of critical making. I’m joining the DoIIIT studio to get my hands dirty with making and hacking, something I think will be useful for my next round of fieldwork.

Cindy will provide a more nuanced review of the workshop panel as its moderator and one of the organizers of the workshop in part 2 of this review.

Till then,

Seyram