Design is currently obsessed both with making and the “creative class” through our cultural obsession and near-deification of innovators. Often left out of this conversation are the broad groups of people whose work maintains the infrastructures that make these innovations possible. By investigating the background and praxis of worker organizations of the past, interfacing with experts involved in the labor movement today, and engaging in design research with this “maintenance class” this work sought to better understand how might the exposure of technologies’ hidden labor change the way we use them? And, how does challenging the authorial narrative of technological development from innovator to laborer affect how we view progress? This research project culminated in a suite of critical design concepts which expose the unheard experiences of these technology maintainers, their labor organization practices, and the sociotechnical systems that enable them to remain hidden.
Seen above (first three images) represent two critical concepts on commercial content moderation - exposing the hidden labor behind most Ai. The final image is a critical concept exposing the dehumanizing aspects of start-up culture.
Collaborators: UW MHCI+D Program Director Michael Smith with Jade Granger, Josephine Hoy, Whitney Olson Janice, Eclair Janjuya, Bonnie Tran, Cloe Yoe, and Andrew Shiau.