Rice University

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Lecture/Lecture Series

Computer and Information Technology Institute
Humanities Research Center
Information Technology
Office of the Vice Provost and University Librarian

Speaker: Genevieve Bell
Director, User Experience Group
Digital Home Group-Intel Corporation

Technology, Cognition and Culture Lecture Series: From the Electrical Fairy to the Magic Box: An anthropological account of invisible infrastructures.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007
4:00 PM  to 5:00 PM

McMurtry Auditorium  George R. Brown Hall
Rice University
6100 Main St
Houston, Texas, USA

To most technologists, the term 'wireless' connotes a set of emergent technologies, devices and infrastructures, including but not limited to blue-tooth, 3G, 802.11, WiFI, WIMAX. Language such as speeds and feeds, network traffic, interference, line of sight, security, back-haul, authentication, node traffic, and bay stations embroiders this contemporary understanding of 'wireless.' In this talk, I want to explicitly contrast this techno-centric understanding of wireless with a more anthropologically-located one. Drawing on historical, economic, regulatory, and cultural frameworks, as well as a decade's worth of ethnographic research, here wireless is re-imagined as one of a sequence of invisible infrastructures over the last century, rather than a brand new technology.

Biography of Genevieve Bell:
An internationally recognized ethnographer, Genevieve Bell has developed product shaping insights into consumers world-wide and is bringing a research driven, end-user focus to Intel. Her influence has been recognized with the award of Intel's highest honor: an individual Intel Achievement Award. She is a Senior Principal Engineer and the Director of User Experience within Intel's Digital Home Group and manages an inter-disciplinary team of social scientists, designers and human factors engineers. She and her team strive to stay ahead of Intel's technology roadmap, using insights gained for in-depth ethnographic and design research to help drive innovations in and around Intel platforms, creating technology that responds to human needs, desires and aspirations. Bell is particularly interested in issues of cultural difference as they are expressed around technology adoption and use; she has conducted fieldwork around the world and is currently working on a book based on her recent ethnographic research in Asia. Her work has been widely published and cited and she is active in the fields of anthropology, computer-human interaction and ubiquitous computing.

Raised in Australia, Bell received the bulk of her education in the United States. Prior to joining Intel in 1998, Bell taught anthropology and Native American Studies at Stanford University in California. Bell received her BA/MA in anthropology from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania in 1991. She earned a PhD in cultural anthropology from Stanford University in 1998.
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