Antidisciplinary: Half a year at the MIT Media Lab

5.8.2019

viki_mit

I’m Victoria Palacin, a doctoral student at LUT University and was a visiting scholar at the MIT Media Lab during 2019. I co-create technologies and physical data experiences with and for communities. I’m interested in how technology can be used to amplify people’s agency and voices in the development of their cities and improve the balance of powers in society.

My doctoral research in short:

There are various approaches to monitor and understand environmental and social phenomenon in large scales. One of which are environmental sensing or citizen science platforms that aim to map issues we all care about. They harness public participation by using widely used mobile devices as monitoring tools for people. My doctoral research focuses on understanding the role of human values onto the motivations of people who use environmental sensing platforms. 

Visiting the MIT Media Lab

My research visit was aimed at; gaining a better understanding of the spectrum of civic technologies and their effect on societies and individuals, learn about co-creation and data literacy methods and advancing my research work. 

I visited the Media Lab, which labels itself as an antidisciplinary lab. Where projects aren’t the sum of different disciplines but rather entirely new inventions. Within the media lab, many research groups cohabitate, I spent 6 months in the group of Civic Media, whose motto is: “creating technology for social change”, and it surely was a thriving environment to learn, play and nurture new research ideas to create more equitable, inclusive and sustainable technologies and social structures. I also audited some courses, got involved in different projects (such as linkedout and allo-i) and created my own project around data literacy in collaboration with media lab experts (Laura Perovich and Rahul Bhargava) which still continues (I also got featured by a Spanish newspaper who published an article about the research done by hispanics at the medialab).

Data Moves!

This project explores the ways in which data can be physicalized through human expression. We are working with members of the community in Finland and USA to co-compose performances informed by datasets. We seek to validate the use of art forms like dancing and acting as methods to enhance data literacy. Data Moves is a data experience. “A data experience takes data off the screen and puts it into the physical world” [Perovich L., 2015]. 

Last words about my visit: 

Visiting MIT has been the best experience in my academic life! The place is unique, stimulating and has so much history. Most of all, it has amazing people, I’ve gained friends for life. Also I’ve gotten lots of new ideas for my future research. 

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