Reclaiming the Internet: A Journey to Community-Held Cellular Infrastructure


Kurtis Heimerl


2021-03-04 12:30:00


BlueJeans Events

GVU Center Brown Bag Seminar: Reclaiming the Internet: A Journey to Community-Held Cellular Infrastructure

As a design researcher and educator working in human-computer interaction, I often find myself in the business of "empowering" students by teaching them design. As a professor, I write grant proposals that use the magic of design to bring forth preferable futures. Yet, within the present socio-environ-political context, I find myself increasingly conflicted by these claims and asking myself, what, really, can design do?  I will not be able to answer any of these questions during this talk because I don't know, but I will argue that the position of not-knowing, humility, and non-expert is useful for critically reflecting on the relevance of our practices. I will present ways that myself, collaborators, and the students with whom I work have been using weaving (sometimes with circuits, some without) as a practice through which to to try to probe, question, and understand what counts as design and the kinds of narratives we must take on in order to be "designers."  I aim for this talk to inspire reflection and offer a few tactics for unknowing in order to think otherwise.


Kurtis Heimerl is an assistant professor of Computer Science at the University of Washington working on Information and Communication Technology and International Development (ICTD), specifically universal Internet access. Before that, he received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, working under Professors Eric Brewer and Tapan Parikh. Kurtis cofounded Endaga, which joined Facebook in 2015 and has also published widely, including top conferences such as ICTD, CSCW, CHI, MobiCom, and NSDI. He was a recipient of the 2014 MIT “35 under 35” award, the 2018 UW early career Diamond Award, and has won paper awards at CHI, NSDI, COMPASS, ASSETS, and DySPAN.