Technology, Craft, and Culture


Technology, Craft, and Culture

3303 Sage Labs

November 5, 2009 4:15 PM - 5:15 PM

Artifacts like colorful interactive dresses and programmable paper sketchbooks confound our assumptions about what technology looks and feels like. When we put technology in unusual material and cultural contexts like these, it becomes appealing to new and diverse groups of people. In this talk, I will demonstrate examples of artifacts that combine traditional craft with technology, including embroidered computers and hand-painted electronics, and introduce tools we have developed that empower students, hobbyists, and educators to work in these new domains. I will also describe how we have employed our tools to attract diverse audiences to computer science/engineering workshops and detail how our developments are helping to spark new technology cultures.

BIO: Leah Buechley is an Assistant Professor at the MIT Media Lab where she directs the High-Low Tech research group. The High-Low Tech group explores the integration of high and low technology from cultural, material, and practical perspectives, with the goal of engaging diverse groups of people in developing their own technologies. Leah is a well- known expert in the field of electronic textiles (e-textiles), and her work in this area includes developing a method for creating cloth printed circuit boards (fabric PCBs) and designing the commercially available LilyPad Arduino toolkit. Her research was the recipient of the best paper award at the 2006 International Symposium on Wearable Computers and has been featured in numerous articles in the popular press including the New York Times, Boston Globe, CRAFT Magazine, Denver Post, and Taipei Times. Buechley received PhD and MS degrees in computer science from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a BA in physics from Skidmore College.

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