I am a PhD student at the University of Michigan School of Information. I am advised by Silvia Lindtner and Tiffany Veinot, am a member of the Tech. Culture. Matters. Research Collective, and co-convene the Queer Science & Technology Studies Workshop. My research focuses on the intersection of rurality, sexuality, and computing.
This post is a recap and reflection on attending the 2nd Queer Internet Studies Workshop in Philadelphia on Friday, February 17. See their website for more information. The travel to attend this even was supported by the Diversity Committee Travel Grant from the University of Michigan School of Information.
I am happy to announce that my submission to the 20th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing has been accepted for publication! This piece wouldn’t have been possible without the co-authorship and support from my advisor, Dr. Silvia Lindtner. The paper is titled “Constructing a Desiring User: Discourse, Rurality, and Design in Location-Based Social Networks” and is based off research I have been doing since 2014 on the use of location-based social networks by rural gay men in the Upper Midwest. The abstract is below and you can download and read (and cite :-P) a PDF of the paper at http://bit.ly/DesiringUser
A growing body of literature addresses the use of Grindr and SCRUFF, location-based networking applications for gay, bisexual, and queer men. This study builds on that work, asking whose sexuality is produced in the design and use of these applications. Drawing from ethnographic research and discourse analysis, we build on analytical frames from science and technology studies, feminist HCI, and sexuality studies, proposing what we call the desiring user: a user whose desires and sexuality are mediated through technological devices in particular ways. In doing so, we demonstrate how the discursive constructions of the user put forth by the creators of Grindr and SCRUFF clash with the lived reality of our rural interlocutors. We address emerging themes in CSCW and HCI related to the construction of sexual subjectivities and social computing in rural settings.
I will be attending the annual conference for the Society for the Social Studies of Science August 31 to September 3 and presenting a paper based on my summer 2016 ethnographic fieldwork entitled, “Queer technologies and rural world-making.”
This paper explores how embodied knowledge, mobile applications for queer men, and spatiality are enacted in the world-making process of rural LGBTQ people. Drawing from ethnographic research in a rural region of the American Midwest, I show how queer sexuality is negotiated through a range of artifacts including software, bars, periodicals, festivals, and stories of belonging. I focus on contextualizing the use of location-based smartphone applications and their role in LGBT world-formation since their popularization in 2009.
Discourses used by mobile apps creators, queer theorists, researchers of people-nearby applications, and the popular press frequently assume an urban user and traffic in techno-determinist discourses regarding both how these apps are used and their cultural effects. Designers assume that these technologies will be used only in certain ways and critics believe that their use will lead to “the death of the gay bar.” These discourses over-emphasize the role of queer technologies in modern gay life, offer a limited understanding of their place in LGBTQ culture, and mischaracterize how they are used by a wide variety of queer subjects.
In contrast, I argue that rural LGBTQ identity is enacted dynamically and that rural users employ these technologies in novel and unexpected ways. I draw on STS literatures on the co-construction of the user and synthesize Berlant & Warner’s framework of “world-making” from queer theory and Donna Haraway’s theory of “worlding” from feminist technoscience. In doing so, I offer a non-determinist view of these applications that centers processes of context-bound user interactions.
San Francisco for CSCW – Feb 26 to March 3
San Jose for CHI – May 5 to 13
Marquette, MI for fieldwork – May through August