Browser gender nudges?

Our culture is infused with stereotypes, and their ubiquity can make them hard to spot. But stereotypes contribute to solidifying the status quo and make things hard to change. For example, I’m interested in gender balance in computer science. If people tend to associate men with technical jobs more than women, they tend to appoint and reward men more. And if you’re female, you might unconsciously assume that technical jobs are not for you. I’m a female computer scientist. Even though I’m a counter-stereotype, when I give lectures and ask audiences to play a game of “housewife or computer scientist”, … More

Running creative coding workshops

cakefly1

Someone from Ada’s List recently asked for  tips on running creative coding workshops for girls. I’ve run a few, so I put together some thoughts. Workshop plan: Talk very briefly but enthusiastically at the start about why you love coding (I repeatedly talk about coding as creative problem solving, gives me power to make stuff), show a few simple inspiring examples (maybe something they are going to program themselves, plus something you’ve made – I talk about my cake orchestra :)). I’d also mention/show some more role model/s briefly e.g. Margaret Hamilton (moon software!). But not too much talking! Hands … More

Subliminal priming

At the MobileHCI conference this year, I talked about my research into subliminal priming as a potential vehicle for behaviour change. Subliminal priming is where you show someone a piece of information (the prime) that affects later judgements or actions despite them not being able to tell you what the information was. Unsurprisingly, the idea that things you can’t recall might affect you regardless inspires both moral panic (parents of 2 teenages who committed suicide sued Judas Priest for encouraging them to do so) and skepticism. It doesn’t help that the person that first claimed subliminal priming success from a … More

Anti-surveillance technology

I recently gave a talk at CHI, the big HCI conference. I discussed how advertisers are targeting our subconscious, and what technology can do about it. It was partly inspired by  some (old!) science fiction: Walden 2, a utopian science fiction book by the psychologist B F Skinner written in 1945, and Huxley’s Brave New World Revisited from 1958, reflecting on the real-world developments that echoed his dystopian classic written in 1931. Even in 1958, Huxley found technological developments disturbing, denouncing a “psychological slave trade” of mass manipulation by governments and advertisers. I argued that the situation is deteriorating, with … More

Pervasive e-receipts: handy or ominous tracking?

When visiting San Jose for the CHI conference last year, I noticed that coffee shops and cafes tend to issue only e-receipts: tap your details into a little screen, and your receipt gets emailed to you. For the traveller who has to submit their expenses, and anyone who’s ever mislaid an Important Paper from a stack of random bits of paper (*cough*), this seems like a great idea. Technology can easily support purchase-tracking, it’s more eco-friendly, stores are more accountable. From the seller point of view, they get the opportunity to get some lightweight user feedback. What’s the problem? Sadly, … More

Anticipatory Banking: can FinTech feed forward?

Despite the clamour about FinTech innovation, there’s still a gap in the market for fully-fledged Anticipatory Banking: banking and financial services that accurately predict your money flows and nudges you to act to minimise disruption. For example, if my bank can accurately estimate that I’m likely to go into the red in the near future , I’d like a nudge to suggest I transfer some £ to my current account. The nudge should contain simple tools to customise the suggested action, and a “go” button that enables me to seamlessly authorise the suggestion. Is this too much to ask? Although … More