Cultural Usability project participants 2000-01

Andrea Botero Cabrera
Doctor of Art student in New Media

I have studied Industrial design at the Arts faculty of the Colombian National University and worked for several years in Bogota at a design studio. I completed an MA degree in the department of Product and strategic design at UIAH in Helsinki. My interests are in design and participation (especially with children) and in digital things in general (software). I believe that social aspects of technology, and technological aspects of society have serious implications for design and present new roles for "designers".

I currently work as researcher in the FMH group in the Media lab department of UIAH while doing my dissertation. My doctoral project relates to exploration and development of tools and resources that allow participation of final users during the design process as active shapers with influence, I concentrate in everyday tools for communities and children. In the CU seminar I elaborated a little further around the theme of participatory design and Andrew Feenberg's proposal of "alternative rationalizations", using my MA thesis project (an interactive environment for children) as a case.

Giedre Kligyte
MA in New Media student

I have studied graphic design at the Academy of Art of Vilnius and worked as graphic and interaction designer at Multimedia Center for the Humanities in Lithuania. At the moment I am working as interaction designer in ITCOLE (Innovative Technology for Collaborative Learning) project at the Media Lab. I am focusing on the visualization of community activity and learning process as well as exploring the ways through which interface design could motivate the student and help her to make sense of the studies using a CSCL (Computer Supported Collaborative Learning) system.

In the CU seminar I worked on the problem of agency and student activity in CSCL environments. My suggestion was, that a designer should focus on student motivation issues and think of the ways to encourage their activity rather than give away a complex tool, which is useless unless actively used by community of learners. This topic supports my effort in ITCOLE project and will be developed further in my final thesis paper.

Jokko Korhonen
MA in New Media student

I have studied digital Media at the University of Jyväskylä and have 6 years of professional experience in new media. Currently, as a concept designer at an Internet consultancy I design concepts for e- and m-services and also develop ethnographic design methods for discovery of new digital service opportunities in niche markets. Previously I have worked as a user interface designer and usability expert. My research interests at the Media Lab include rich media interfaces, smart environments and mobile services.

In the CU seminar my topic was the design of mixed reality environments. Utilising Actor-Network theory I analyzed some early concepts for ambient displays that had been conceptualized for Aula, a place where a co-operative of creative minds convenes to socialize and network. I found out that unlike a usability test, a critical design sensibility is not a design tool for evolving a design but rather a way to expose the underlying design philosophy.

Ellen Kotanen
MA in New Media student, professional transfer program

I am working as a special librarian at Helsinki City Library. My previous studies include literature criticism, folkloristics and ethnology at the University of Jyväskylä and library science, informatics and audiovisual culture at the University of Tampere. I am especially interested in practices of use and reading in the changing media environment.

The topic of my paper in the CU seminar was Classification as interpretation: dimensions of democracy and otherness in library classifications. In it I discussed classifications as technologies to assest our thinking processes, and the interpretative character of classifications. In my final thesis, my intention is to continue studying into classifying as a part of the reading process.

Cilla Lönnqvist
MA in New Media student

I have studied art metals, silver smithing and jewelry; graduating as a precious metal smith in 1996. Awarded with the Brittingham scholarship, I continued my studies at the University of Wisconsin, combining my traditional art and design studies with new media. In 1997-99 I worked for the Internet consultancy company Razorfish, increasing my skills and understanding of the new media field. My interests in mobility and micro browsing were awakened at the Razorfish Mobile Solutions Laboratory.

In the CU seminar, I worked on the topic of Mobility within Cellspace. My paper looked at the mobile business from a critical point of view and examined Hewlett-Packard's future vision Cooltown. These topics have been further handled in my final thesis "Tracing Mobile Concepts".

Misha Mantere
MA in New media student

My educational background is in philosophy and linguistics (MA, University of Helsinki, 1998). In addition to studies at the Media Lab, I have worked in web-based learning projects during the last three years. This work has involved analyzing customer requirements both for software and study program development, designing and testing user interfaces as well as authoring study materials. I have also conducted customer and end-user research in web-based learning projects.

My work in the CU seminar related to my final thesis, titled "Approaches to Openness" where I develop and discuss three different approaches to opening up information content in digital environments.

Ville Martin
MA in New Media student

I have studied architecture and new media at the Helsinki University of Technology, and UIAV in italy. My interests center around information in living space and the application of information technologies to design methodology. In the CU seminar I worked on the subject of swarm intelligence in design, and group design problematics. The paper was an inspection of the relationship of design to production and how this relationship is affected
by information processing.

Markku Nousiainen
MA in New Media Student

I have a background in work psychology, ergonomics and industrial management. For the last couple of years I have been working in new media industry, mainly as interaction designer and usability expert. I hold a previous MSc degree from Helsinki University of Technology.

My current interests are in bodily and experimental interfaces between humans and computers. During the CU seminar, I examined the notion of user-interface from a critical and historic point of view, suggesting that interfaces have become important mediators of power and control in two ways, both creating an illusion of control for the user, and creating targeted views that control audiences from the system's point of view. Instead of being just 'surfaces' of technical systems, they have become separate objects and systems that have a life of their own.

Riikka Pelo
MA in new media student

Exploring the limits of human experience, poetic language, drama and storytelling has always been an important part of my life. It was also an excuse to study poststructuralist semiotics in the University of Helsinki, to work as an editor for Finnish book publishers, Otava, Nemo and Like and to teach creative writing for children. Now the digital media is providing an ambivalent stage for my quest to become an author: I am developing my skills as a writer to become a scriptwriter for digital as well as for "linear" media.

My research in CU consists of two approaches towards the relationship between the subject and technology: cyborg subjectivity and the computational unconscious. The articulation of the correspondence of psyche and technology is for me a question of dramaturgy - of conflict, narration, perfomance and mise en scène of the discourse of the unconscious. The subject originated from scriptwriting poetic female bots and is parallel for my artistic projects in writing and installation-making.

Leena Saarinen
MA in New Media student

I have studied information technology in Helsinki Institute of Technology and worked as an R&D Engineer in the field of Mobile Switching. My background in technology combined with the passion to write everything from shopping lists to short stories to more academic texts has brought me to the Media Lab. During my studies I have concentrated on interactive authoring for various media. I am now finishing my final work, which combines the design of chatterbots with empirical research on interaction in cyberspace.

During the CU seminar I made a case study of a virtual community that lost one of its members in accidental death. I found out that society's traditions relating to death, and the subjects this tradition produces, temporarily replaced the community's own culture and ‘rhetorical vision’. Cultures that are produced in virtual space can not always sustain themselves when something unexpected occurs.

Minna Tarkka
Professor, researcher, UIAH Media Lab

My professional activities include writing, production and education within media, art and design. As professor at the Media Lab (1996-), I have been responsible for developing the department’s interdisciplinary MA in New Media programme. Currently I am involved in research concerning the discursive and rhetorical aspects of interactive design practice.

Heidi Tikka
Media artist, researcher, UIAH Media Lab

I am a practicing media artist and researcher at UIAH Media Lab. My work explores visual technologies and the subjectivities they constitute; the dislocations produced by my installations deconstruct spectatorship as a spatial and bodily experience. In the context of feminist analysis, I have inquired into spatialities, distance and representation. Currently I am elaborating on the notion of affectivity in interface design and media art, approaching it as a series of boundary breakdowns in intersubjective as well as subject-object relationships.

Rasmus Vuori
MA in New Media Student

I have been working with digital media for over ten years, originally starting with a technical focus but gradually changing to a more content based approach. My experience in the field covers both practical work as well as advisory work in expert groups, balanced by work in more traditional areas such as education and art. My main interests are in the narrative forms of algorithmic media, and in the process of authoring for an algorithmic environment.

In the cultural usability seminar I have focused on the algorithmic aspect of new media, and to be more specific the algorithmic definition of a narrative. The algorithmic layer can contain both a generative process as well as an interactive mechanism, and it is my intention to look for questions on how these issues fit within the tradition of authoring narratives.