Doctoral candidate at University of Washington Computer Science & Engineering (expected June 2016)
Advised by Cecilia Aragon and James Fogarty; part of the Human-Centered Data Science Lab
MS in Computer Science from UW; BA in Applied Math and Computer Science from Oberlin College
Research interests redux:
how groups of people use technological tools, interventions, and resources
how the emotional experiences of people shape and are shaped by the use of technology
under what conditions technology succeeds or fails to empower the social work around it.
- Adoption and adaptation of computational skills in oceanography (Dissertation topic)
- Qualitative study combining a year-long ethnographic and interview study of several ocean science research groups; and a series of interviews and observations with data science educaitonal initiatives (e.g., Software Carpentry Workshops)
- What are some of the storytelling genres and visual artifacts in day-to-day creative communication and "trouble-shooting" (sanity-checking, double-checking, debugging, among many terms used) of data, method, or philolosphy?
- How does the sense of elegance interact with motivations and priorities when it comes to "extracurricular" software-related tasks in a collaborative context?
- What are some effective patterns for cultivating both technological efficacy (the sense of technical empowerment, rather than anxiety and helplessness) and technological effectiveness (the capacity to follow through) in a collaborative context?
- Social media use in the most recent Maidan movement in Ukraine
- "Multilingualism in the Maidan Movement" in Digital Eastern Europe (invited book chapter, 2015)
- Hope, Lies, & The Internet (Central European University white paper report, 2014), excerpted below:
- Having spent six weeks in Ukraine, I found that the speed with which social media spread messages enabled the dissemination of both first-hand information and misinformation. Claims such as Gladwell’s indict social media as being too superficial and ephemeral to help people forge strong social ties during nascent political movements. However, the interviews I collected contained many stories of connections being forged across geographic and political boundaries. I do agree that there is no such thing as a “Twitter revolution,” for two reasons.
- Firstly, attributing any one social networking platform with success ignores the importance of the diversity of the sociotechnical ecosystem. Different people (casual users, activists, journalists) exist in different social circles and on different online platforms, and the availability of multiple technologies allows some degree of choice based on the needs on the ground. The needs are complex: to spread information, to cull misinformation, to organize rides to a demonstration.
- Secondly, and much more importantly, a political movement is a physical phenomenon, not just an online one. Real-world action and discussion is the critical outcome, not the virtual interaction that helps organize or inform. Measuring online activity, the numbers of Likes and Shares, is a truly tiny fragment of the picture. A video shared on social networks, created by journalists, re-appropriated by individuals engaged in truth-finding campaigns has an impact not because of how much it is Liked and Shared, but because of it gained critical mass and became a catalyst for discussion beyond the technology.
- Challenges and Opportunities for Technology in Foreign Language Classrooms (2012), excerpted below:
- Feedback as a negotiated process, not event: a key benefit of technology for education is to help more effectively redistribute the teacher’s time, such as by providing automatic feedback where possible. Technology that can accomplish this is very different in the social, rather than individual, context. Negotiated feedback from peers, using repetition and correction as a signal, was an important aspect of the classroom, and technology that provides feedback could benefit greatly from similar minimally intrusive, example-based approaches.
- Authenticity vs. metalinguistic discussion: To support multilingual interaction, technology must balance
authenticity and use of the foreign language against the need to use the first language for metalinguistic
discussion. In the cases where technologies such as speech recognition are used, it is crucial to keep in
mind that there are at least two languages used in the introductory classroom.
- Joy, creativity, and props:
To support creative and entertaining role-play, technological artifacts should be shared within small groups, and enable open-ended activities. This can either mean rapid image look-up or sketching, or dynamic, interactive dialogues that support engagement over more scripted exercises.
- Online health resources and management of chronic illness (specifically, chronic Lyme disease)
- Accessible Content Creation by End Users (2013)- how people self-moderate accessibility on a Lyme forum vs. wikipedia
- Competing online viewpoints and models of chronic illness (2011) - reports on dozens of interviews and ~150 survey responses, and offers design implications on the basis of the findings. For example, we suggest that patient-oriented online information resources "expose multiple explanatory models, where they exist. In the many situations where knowledge of chronic disease is uncertain, people seek explanations from multiple types of online resources. We argue that, rather than causing harm, seeing the diversity of health resources online may lead to a more nuanced understanding of and involvement in the debates around a health condition. Because the scientific basis of disease, medical knowledge, treatments, and social and legal conditions for those with chronic conditions is continually changing, we argue that patients are better prepared to adjust their model of illness if they are exposed to diverse and proliferating viewpoints."
From left to right: (1) the time I was on a panel in Budapest with two philosophers and Nick Denton (Gawker Media founder), speaking about the role of social media in revolutions (see full video
). (2) the time (one of multiple) I was giving press interviews about robots in the IranOpen 2015 RoboCup competition; later on, taking a trip through Iran by bus, I saw myself on Iranian TV in the bus station (more on what I was doing with soccer-playing robots
). (3) the time I realized I am a poet. (4) the time I presented my first major brainchild at an international conference in Paris.
- A Developer and a User Walk into a Bar: 5 Steps to Getting Users’ Insights while Avoiding a Bruised Ego (on interviewing)
- Ask Stupid Questions First (so you can get better answers later) (on prototyping surveys)
- Full tutorial on how I do user research - summarized below:
- How to Conduct Exploratory Interviews: it’s usually worth doing, and the way to interview well is to be flexible and an active listener
- How to Interview to Evaluate a Prototype: be specific, and ask user study participants to compare and contrast, not to criticize
- How to Compose a Survey: keep it short and simple, don’t force opinions, have at least one open-ended prompt for “debugging”
- How to Discover Themes: qualitative analysis is a systematic way of using the human capacity to categorize things
- How to Use Theory and Related Research: short primer on how to read HCI papers for fun and profit
- Fundamental Principles of User Research (or, rather, what I think the fundamental principles ought to be):
- Principle 1: The creators of technology are in a difficult spot: on the one hand, we are users of technology; on the other, we are often not typical target users. As such, we can be limited by unspoken assumptions. Open-ended study of how people use technology is important in uprooting our assumptions about what technology does, is, or could be.
- Principle 2: Technology and its use is pervasive. Besides hardware questions (eg, device ecosystems or networking infrastructure) and software questions (eg, compatibility and social buy-in), there are questions of social norms (eg, texting on a date) and policy (eg, Google Glass in a movie theater) and access (eg, blind users and voice-over, or users with cerebral palsy and alternative pointing devices). The researcher must get creative and and use a variety of methodological tools to understand anything at all about how people use technology.
- Principle 3: The subject of user research is the technology or its use. People are not your subjects; they are your informants or participants. Remember that they (most often) get involved (1) because you are nice, and/or (2) because what you’re working on is cool. The researcher must actively pursue constructive criticism through deliberate method selection.
- I am currently building an interactive wearable creepy-looking mask thing (very early progress shown to the right), painting a piano for public use in a Seattle park, polishing up my Japanese and learning some German, and working on a short horror story collection. I continue to sell prints of my old art on the internet but I have yet to master the art of timely scanning.
- I have previously taugh ESL at LiteracySource in Seattle, lead twice-weekly meditaiton sessions at the University of Washington through the UWMP, failed to learn any Icelandic whatsoever, and contributed a comic to an anthology of dream-inspired comics.
- My preferred means of locomotion is the bicycle; my preferred means of travel through time/space is the seat of my pants. The compliment which I am most proud to have received (and which I most vigilantly work to be worthy of) is: "wow, you are an institution onto yourself."
- My favorite Sunday read is the brainpickings newsletter. Of the following reflections, not a single one is another post about lifehacking.
- The Gentle Calibration of the Qualified Self (2014) When I was first learning about the methods of empirical cultural anthropology that I encountered a curious idea: “in the natural sciences, there are instruments, which must work well, and must be calibrated. In the social sciences, we are the instruments.” I no longer remember the source of this wisdom, but I have really taken to the notion of “calibrating” myself, the “instrument,” not just when I’m doing ethnographic research, but when I am programming, or designing, or drawing, or writing, or teaching. It is in this spirit that the below productivity strategies, and reflections on productivity, are presented.
- Art, at Home and Abroad (2014) An Andy Warhol print in the Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh is unlike an Andy Warhol print in the contemporary art museum in Budapest. Also: I Killed One of My Beans (2014), another post based on my Eastern Europe travel journal, including excerpts on eyes, beans, & love.
- Work-Life Balance (2013) Reflections on the dynamic of my advisor's research lab - and our healthy-potluck-lab-lunch policy
- Oberlin Winter Term (2013) As a proud Oberlin alumna, I have been hosting Oberlin undergraduate research internship over the month of January ("winter term") for the last few years - and it has been a true delight. The 2013 interns are pictured on the right.
- There was this one time I did some NLP on crowdsourced data in a research project about surgical skills assessment, during the course of which I got to observe surgeries for a valid computational linguistics purpose! (University of Washington, 2013)
- How to compose an NSF GRFP application packet you can be proud of (2011) Take pride in your work. Remember why you do what you do. Your passion will flow from your fingertips onto the page and you will be happy.
C. Chen, L. White, T. Kowalewski, R. Aggarwal, C. Lintott, B. Comstock, K. Kuksenok, C. Aragon, D. Holst, and T. Lendvay. Crowd-Sourced Assessment of Technical Skills (C-SATS): A Novel Method to Evaluate Surgical Performance. Journal of Surgical Research 2013.
K. Kuksenok, M. Brooks, Q. Wang, C. P. Lee. Challenges and Opportunities for Technology in Foreign Language Classrooms. CHI 2013. (Best Paper Honorable Mention)
K. Kuksenok, J. Mankoff, M. Brooks. Accessible Online Content Creation by End Users. CHI 2013.
M. Brooks, K. Kuksenok, M. K. Torkildson, D. Perry, J. J. Robinson, T. J. Scott, O. Anicello, A. Zukowski, P. Harris, C. Aragon. Statistical Affect Detection in Collaborative Chat. CSCW 2013.
T. J. Scott, K. Kuksenok, M. Brooks, C. Aragon. Adapting Grounded Theory to Construct A Taxonomy of Affect in Collaborative Online Chat. SIGDOC 2012.
J. Mankoff, K. Kuksenok, S. Kiesler, J. Rode, K. Waldman. Competing Online Viewpoints and Models of Chronic Illness. CHI 2011.