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Self Tracking
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Finding Connections between Design Processes and Institutional Forces on Integrated AEC Teams for High Performance Energy Design

Engaging the need to better understand the problems of high performance energy design in AEC collaborative practices and delivery methods, this study tested a schema that differentiated between the micro level of everyday design decisions, the meso level of project organization that guides project delivery, and the macro level of institutions—professions, disciplines, and firms— within which AEC practice takes place. Based in observations and interviews of two large projects in a U.S. architectural firm, we used a comparative case study to develop a series of analytical themes that located where issues of meso and macro level forces impacted micro level energy design decisions. This study found that the architect’s disciplinary vision and project management styles were very influential over energy design accomplishment, while firm attitudes promoting high performance design had little effect. Overall, we found no example of micro level design decisions that did not implicate some type of meso or macro level influence. This suggests that industry guides emphasizing technical solutions achieved at the micro level are not adequate for the needs of evolving AEC integrated practices.

Monson, Chris, Carrie Sturts Dossick, Gina Neff, Laura Osburn, and Heather Burpee. “Finding Connections between Design Processes and Institutional Forces on Integrated AEC Teams for High Performance Energy Design.” Cle Elum: Engineering Project Organization Conference, 2016. http://www.epossociety.org/EPOC2016/papers/Monson_et%20al_EPOC%202016.pdf.


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Disruption and the Political Economy of Biosensor Data

Science and Technology Studies has long held that the frames and definitions designers give to new tools matter enormously for how users initially receive and ultimately modify those tools. Discourses are powerful forces in technology design, shaping, for instance, how gender and racial inequalities get designed into technologies. The startups working in biosensing and self-tracking present a case to examine the role that power plays in the discursive process of framing new technologies.

Fiore-Gartland, Brittany, and Gina Neff. “Disruption and the Political Economy of Biosensor Data.” In Quantified: Biosensing Technologies in Everyday Life, 101. Cambridge  MA: MIT Press, 2016. http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=9nGyDAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA101&dq=info:n2klnLRIazgJ:scholar.google.com&ots=AVL94uTQ65&sig=L_F79gc4inLQ1Vc4scgei9JhOjY.

Technologies for Sharing: lessons from Quantified Self about the political economy of platforms

Quantified Self (QS) is a group that coordinates a global set of in-person meetings for sharing personal experiences and experiments with self-tracking behaviours, moods, and activities. Through participation in US-based QS events and watching online QS presentations from around the globe, we identify a function of ambiguous valuation for supporting sharing communities. Drawing on Stark’s (2011) theory of heterarchy, we argue that the social and technical platforms supporting sharing within the QS community allow for multiple, sometimes conflicting, sets of community and commercial values. Community cohesion benefits from ambiguity over which values set is most important to QS members. Ambiguity is promoted by sharing practices through at least two means, the narrative structure of members’ presentations, and what counts as tracking. By encouraging members to adhere to a three-question outline, the community ensures that multiple values are always present. Thus, it becomes a question of which values this sharing community emphasizes, not which value sets members present, at any given time. By leaving the tools and methods of tracking open − from sophisticated wearables and data analysis to pen-and-paper and storytelling − the community creates space for and embraces self-trackers with a broad spectrum of technological proficiency and interest. QS as a group capitalizes on circulation of knowledge valued somewhat ambiguously to sustain and grow the community, both encouraging and supporting the commercialization of self-tracking technologies while keeping technology developer interests from overwhelming community-building interests. This, we argue, has implications for researchers hoping to understand online communities and the ‘sharing economy’ more generally.

Kristen Barta & Gina Neff. (2015). Technologies for Sharing: lessons from Quantified Self about the political economy of platforms. Information, Communication & Society. DOI:10.1080/1369118X.2015.1118520

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