EPIC 2019: Agency in the Digital Age with Julia Haines and Lisa diCarlo


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May 21 2019 51 mins  

Welcome to This Anthro Life x EPIC 2019. This is the first episode in our 2019 collaboration with the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Community or EPIC. EPIC is a professional organization that brings together ethnographers and social science practitioners across fields like user experience research and design, marketing, computer science, academia, and more. This year’s conference theme is agency, which is fascinating given the rapid rise of artificial intelligence, voice recognition software and platforms like Alexa or Hey Google, and controversies over privacy and sale of people’s personal data. 

Today host Adam Gamwell and guest host Matt Artz virtually sit down with the EPIC conference chairs Julia Haines and Lisa Di Carlo.

Julia conducts research at the intersection of technology, innovation, and human practices. She is a Senior User Experience Researcher at Google where she leads UX research for a team of over 400 designers and engineers, bringing an inclusive, human-centered perspective to the project. She is a co-founder of the Responsible AI License (RAIL) initiative and an inaugural member of the ACM’s Future of Computing Academy. 

Lisa is an anthropologist and lecturer in the Sociology Department at Brown University. She teaches courses on design anthropology, applied qualitative research methods and research ethics. The common threads throughout her research are migration and displacement, .from labor migration, to religious conversion as migration and displacement, to social innovation through the migration of ideas. When not preparing a massive conference, she conducts ethnographic research primarily in the Mediterranean area, most frequently in Turkey and Turkish diaspora communities. 

We have a wide ranging conversation that covers questions such as 

  • what agency looks like in industry and classrooms, 
  • what responsibilities corporations have to the agency of users, 
  • how we can make computing more equitable, 
  • the pace of research in academia and industry, 
  • how students and other professionals looking to move into industry ethnography and research can get a leg up. 


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