Research Overview

The research at the studio broadly investigates the role of civic and participatory media in facilitating just and democratic modes of social interaction across multiple sites of inquiry such as virtual communities formed around digital games or neighborhood interactions mediated by social media. This research is both theoretical and design-based, engaging a wide range of digital forms such as visualizations, educational games, interactive documentaries, and art installations.


Design-based Inquiry

Smart Cities and Society

This research explores the potentials and challenges of smart cities and locative participatory media, probing the relationship between technology, data, place, citizenship, & community.

Science Learning Media

This research probes the uses and design of media environments that support new modes of understanding abstract scientific concepts both within and outside of the classroom.

Feminist Visualizations (of the Heart)

This project brings together humanities and physiology scholars to create a series of visualizations within an art installation to reflect upon how we understand and experience heartbeat.

Visual Policy

This practice-based research draws on human-centered design to build communication tools and strategies (“digital boundary objects”) that aid legislators and the public in understanding policy issues.

Conversational Media

This research introduces a new class of media applications that we refer to as Conversational Media, media applications that turn with the organic flow of a conversation (in collaboration with the KER unit at the Mayo Clinic)


Theoretical Inquiry & Criticism

Values as Hypothesis 

This research challenges the separation of values and design actions. It puts forward a fundamental repositioning of values as hypotheses, drawing attention to their service in ethically problematic situations of practice developed through strategies of storytelling and conversation.

A Critique of Algorithmic Morality

This research engages the dominant utilitarian framings around discourse on self-driving cars and algorithmic morality. In doing so, it serve as a starting point to rethink mobility as it connects to the design of cities, the wellbeing of communities, and the future of the planet.

Collective Intelligence or Group Think? Engaging the Concept of Community in World without Oil

Through an online ethnography of ARG World without Oil, this case study challenges claims of community and participation that dominate the discourse around Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) and Serious Games.

A Critical Look at Human Computation, Gamification, and digital labor

Drawing on the case of Google Image Labeler and an online ethnographic study of player responses to the game, this research critically engages concepts of gamification and collective intelligence.