Doctoral Thesis: Designing for Participation and Power in Data Collection and Analysis

Tuesday, June 25
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

32-G882 (zoom link available)

By: Jonathan Zong

Thesis Supervisor: Arvind Satyanarayan


  • Date: Tuesday, June 25
  • Time: 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
  • Category:
  • Location: 32-G882 (zoom link available)
Additional Location Details:


Technologies that mediate social participation are an increasingly important area for design, enabling people to create, share, and discuss information. While increased participation is generally considered empowering, it can also be a double-edged sword, as involuntary participation in systems can lead to disempowerment. In this dissertation, I apply the lens of participation and power to two problem domains: accessible data visualization and ethical data collection. First, existing approaches to accessible data visualization reinforce blind and low-vision (BLV) users’ dependence on sighted assistance. In contrast, I design systems that empower BLV users to conduct self-guided data exploration and create non-visual representations without using visual idioms. Second, existing data ethics procedures are often designed to offer people more choices, but can serve to placate users and consolidate data collectors’ power. I develop systems and frameworks that offer novel approaches to data protection by reframing people’s non-compliance with data collection as a form of socio-technical design. Altogether, this work demonstrates how the lens of participation and power deepens our understanding of technology’s social implications and inspires novel approaches to design.

Thesis committee: Arvind Satyanarayan, Daniel Jackson, Catherine D’Ignazio, J. Nathan Matias