I am a faculty member in the Department of Informatics in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. In 2014, I was awarded an honorary doctorate, “Doctor Honoris Causa,” from the University of Umeå in Sweden, for which I am very grateful. I was elected to the CHI Academy in 2013. I co-edit, with Kirsten Foot and Victor Kaptelinin, the MIT Press Acting with Technology Series which has many award-winning titles. I am a founding member of the ICS Center for Research on Sustainability, Collapse-preparedness and Information Technology at UC Irvine. I like social theory, ethnographic fieldwork, and doing things people don’t expect me to do (like playing video games). It is humbling to have such wonderful colleagues, many of whose names are below as co-conspirators in various ventures.



With Don Patterson and Bill Tomlinson, I will be teaching a MOOC for the first time in Winter Quarter 2015. The course is called Global Disruption and IT.

Newer Books

Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: A Handbook of Method
Tom Boellstorff, Bonnie Nardi, Celia Pearce, T.L. Taylor
Foreward by George Marcus
Princeton University Press, September 2012


Activity Theory in HCI Research: Fundamentals and Reflections
Victor Kaptelinin, Bonnie Nardi
Morgan & Claypool Spring 2012


Materiality and Organizing: Social Interaction in a Material World.
Paul Leonardi, Bonnie Nardi and Jannis Kallinikos
Oxford University Press, November 2012



Areas of interest:

 

Activity theory proposes that consciousness is shaped by practice, that people and artifacts mediate our relationship with reality. Consciousness is produced in the enactment of activity with other people and things, rather than being something confined inside a human head. Activity theory began in Russia with the work of Lev Vygotsky in the 1920's, continuing through his student Aleksey Leontiev, and then through students of Leontiev. This work has been influential in education, organizational design, and interaction design. Activity theory works well with design because activity theorists have always tested their theories in practical ways and believe that application is an outcome of theory, not a separate activity. In some of my writings I have discussed how, as a psychological theory, activity theory can be scaled to collaborative settings without losing sight of individual participants in an activity.

Related publications

Affordances in HCI: Toward a Mediated Action Perspective (2012)
Ensembles: Understanding the Instantiation of Activities. (2009)
Acting with Technology: Activity Theory and Interaction Design, with Victor Kaptelinin, MIT Press (2006)
NetWORKers and their Activity in Intensional Networks (2002)
Co-editor, special issue of Computer-supported Cooperative Work, "Activity Theory and the Practice of Design," with David Redmiles. Volume 11(1-2) (2002)
Co-editor, special issue of Computer-supported Cooperative Work, "A Web on the Wind: The Structure of Invisible Work," with Yrjo Engeström. Volume 8 (1-2) (1998)
Context and Consciousness: Activity Theory and Human-computer Interaction, MIT Press (1996)

 

My research suggests that a good deal of communication is intended to create feelings of connection between people rather than to convey specific messages. Affinity, commitment, and attention are aspects of connection. They are active fields of connection between dyads that are constantly negotiated and monitored. These fields "decay" or grow inert without interaction. While face to face interaction is especially rich in ways to establish connection (touching, eating together, making eye contact, sharing common space, informal chitchat), people also establish connection through mediated communication. Blogs, wikis, instant messaging, email, chat, newsgroups, listservs, websites, and games are especially interesting forms of human communication that establish and maintain fields of connection as well as allow for the exchange of substantive information. My most recent research concerns massively multiplayer online games. I am conducting participant-observation fieldwork in World of Warcraft , the most popular MMOG, studying how players collaborate as well as the relationship of offline, online, and in-game activity.

Related publications

Playing with sustainability: Using video games to simulate futures of scarcity, 2014
The Lonely Gamer Revisited, 2013
Mediating Contradictions of Digital Media. UCI Law Review, 2012
My Life as a Night Elf Priest: An Anthropological Account of World of Warcraft. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press
Regulating Anti-Social Behavior on the Internet: The Example of League of Legends. iConference 2013
A Study of Raiders with Disabilities in World of Warcraft. Proceedings Foundations of Digital Games 2011
A New Look at the Social Landscape of World of Warcraft. Proceedings Foundations of Digital Games 2011
If You Build It They Might Stay: Retention Mechanisms in World of Warcraft. Proceedings Foundations of Digital Games 2011
A qualitative study of Ragnarök Online private servers: In-game sociological issues. Proceedings Foundations of Digital Games 2010
Technology, Agency and Community: The Case of Modding in World of Warcraft (2009)
I am a black cat, letting day come and go: Multimodal Conversations in a Poetry Workshop (2009)
A Hybrid Cultural Ecology: World of Warcraft in China (2008)
Learning Conversations in World of Warcraft (2007)
Strangers and Friends: Collaborative Play in World of Warcraft (2006)
Beyond Bandwidth: Dimensions of Connection in Interpersonal Communication (2005)
Blogging as Social Activity, or, Would You Let 900 Million People Read Your Diary? (2004)
Why We Blog (2004)
Interaction and Outeraction: Instant Messaging in Action (2000)
Finding and Filing Computer Files. Proceedings East-West Conference on Human Computer Interaction. Moscow, Russia. July 4–8. 1995. Pp. 162–179
Turning Away From Talking Heads: The Use of Video-As-Data in Neurosurgery (1993)

 



The computer desktop was an amazing design for its time, but does not reflect the complexity, flexibility, and sociality of human activity. Based on my research, I have developed several designs that I believe would enhance the desktop, if it were possible to take them past the prototype stage and onto actual desktops. I hope the ideas will find their way into the designs of others. Eventually we will have to reorganize the desktop to reflect the complex mix of activities users engage in and move beyond the rigidity of separate applications and files-and-folders. Activity theory will be useful in this effort as we work to characterize activity. While ingenious technologies such as blogs and wikis have improved communication, we need better ways to use digital technologies to organize multiple activities, establish meaningful contexts for different activities, and collaborate with others. A different level of design and implementation is needed to make that happen.

Related publications

 

Whither or whether HCI: Requirements analysis for multi-Sited, multi-user cyberinfrastructures. (co-author Ann Zimmerman) Proceedings Computer-human Interaction Conference, Montreal (2006)
Soylent and ContactMap: Tools for constructing the social workscape. (co-author Danyel Fisher). In Integrated Workscapes. M. Czerwinski and V. Kaptelinin (eds.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press (2006).
Collaborative, Programmable Intelligent Agents (1998)
Creating Presentation Slides: A Study of User Preferences for Task-Specific versus Generic Application Software (1996)
Finding and Reminding: File Organization from the Desktop (1995)
User Preferences for Task-specific vs. Generic Application Software (1994)
A Small Matter of Programming: Perspectives on End User Computing. MIT Press (1993)
Gardeners and Gurus: Patterns of Cooperation Among CAD Users (1992)
An Ethnographic Study of Distributed Problem Solving in Spreadsheet Development (1990) 

 

There is a strong need to find new ways to think about the social and cultural changes that come with new technologies. I have examined some such changes with respect to the work of librarians and others discussed in Information Ecologies. Our limited ability to predict change coupled with enormous human creativity has led to a situation of instability in which systemic effects of technological change can only be responded to after the fact. In the current global economy we have efficient ways of distributing technology but ineffectual means of addressing negative consequences (such as pollution from wireless devices). New political and social forms are needed. Movements such as green design, life cycle analysis, and cradle to cradle design address some problems and can be applied to digital technologies. Social changes are more difficult to characterize and require better theorizing. My students are investigating important topics in this area such as the use of digital technologies by the homeless in the U.S., and for women in slums in urban India. The ways in which we portray our digital selves are just as critical. They are fraught with the dangers of our preconceptions magnified by the power of digital technologies as discussed in my article with Yong Ming Kow on Chinese gold farming.

Related publications

Heteromation and its (Dis)contents: The Invisible Division of Labor between Humans and Machines (2014)
The Role of Human Computation in Sustainability, or, Social Progress Is Made of Fossil Fuels (2014)
Collapse Informatics and Practice: Theory, Method, and Design (2013)
Response to Coburn Report. (2011). With Nicole Ellison, Cliff Lampe
Comparative Informatics. (2011). With Ravi Vatrapu, Torkil Clemmensen
Infrastructures for Low-cost Laptop use in Mexican Schools. (2010). First author, Ruy Cervantes
Forget Online Communities? Revisit Cooperative Work! (2010). First author, Yong Ming Kow
The Digital Habitat: Rethinking Experience and Social Practice. (2010). With Jannis Kallinikos and Giovan Francseco Lanzara
How We Know What (We Think) We Know about Chinese Gold Farming (2010). With Yong Ming Kow.
Who Owns the Mods? (2010). With Yong Ming Kow.
Survival Needs and Social Inclusion: Technology Use Among the Homeless. (2010). First author, Jahmeilah Roberson.
Encountering Development Ethnographically. (2009). First author, Nithya Sambasivan.
Placeless Organizations: Collaborating for Transformation (2007)
Co-editor, special issue of Transactions on Computer-human Interaction, "Social Impacts of Technology," with Matt Jones and Elizabeth Mynatt. Volume 12 (2). 2005.
Information Ecologies: Using Technology with Heart, with Vicki O'Day. MIT Press, 1999

 


FUN STUFF

Movie Pundit, 2013

July 2011, Cleveland, my Uncle Dominics 95th birthday party, with my cousins, Ronnie, Arlene, Donna and my sister Karen (Uncle Dominic in the back).



Daughter Jeanette with granddaughter Lila (Jeanette’s niece), February 2014

Here's an interview with me about raiding.

 

 

Bonnie Nardi
Department of Informatics
Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697
Office 5088 Bren Hall




Copyright 2005 Bonnie Nardi - Last updated: April, 2014
University of California, Irvine - Informatics