Critical Race Theory in HCI

Reblogging from my professional blog

The World of Data

Last week, I attended one of the meetups of the Chicago local ACM Chapter. ACM has several SIGs – Special Interest Groups, and technically speaking, I am a part of only one of them: SIGMOD (Management of Data) and also a member of ACM-W – Women in Computing.

“Before all this started” (everybody these days have to say this, referring to our previous life), so – before it all started, I attended some of the ACM meetups, but not that often. 

TheChicago local chapter of ACM SIGCHI- Computer-Human Interaction – is something outside my area of interest, but I started to attend their virtual events and became more and more interested, and now I want to share it with my network :).

The topic of the last week’s meetup was“Critical Race Theory For HCI”, and I regret I didn’t publicize this event! It was so-so-so worth…

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7 thoughts on “Critical Race Theory in HCI

  1. Hi – never commented here, my WP account is not linked to LJ but we originally talked a little bit and very sporadically on LJ.

    “Here is the situation. A child is doing a project about a family vacation. If you would google images for “family vacation,” you will see the images of white families on exotic beaches. And it will take you, they said, six pages scrolling to get to the first picture of a non-white family.”

    I was really intrigued! So just did an image search (from Canada):

    I am not sure about pages, google image search does not automatically break into pages so I am counting lines of photos, but the very first 5 lines of photos I saw – about 25 photos – had: Several mixed race families and one black family of four (parents, 2 kids) – 5/25 = 20%; as well as 5 shots of families against the sun, in silhouette, so can’t tell ethnicity – 5/25 = 20%; with everybody else being white – and yes, all of those being shots of exotic beaches. I saw I think only one photo with an Asian woman with kids. Almost all are heterosexual families: Mom, dad, 2 kids of each gender.

    Out of curiosity, I kept scrolling until I got bored. Likely not very long. Occasional shot of parent with a kid or two. Occasional group shots of kids or larger families. A steady trickle of mixed race families. Not a single LGBTQ family – that is, I was looking for 2 men or 2 women with kids, given that a G or L couple would likely be the easiest and most likely graphic representation.

    Do those kinds of things just change that fast? Is any single search a reliable indicator of what search engines represent or is repeated sampling necessary?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a GREAT question! I almost want to write a new post :). I will either reply here or have a separate post later tonight.


  3. My apologies, I just wrote a multi-paragraph reply, and accidentally moved away from that page. I will try to reproduce the most important parts briefly. First: your search results are indeed DIFFERENT from the results which I get when I run it here, in Illinois. My results are very close to what we saw on the screenshots in the presentation. Second, I did not try to replicate it myself, because I was sure that the results will be corrected after that presentation – the reactions are usually pretty fast. Google search is a very complex thing, as you know, and the results depend on way too many factors. That’s why during the Q&A, they were talking about the importance of testing when the search algorithms are developed.

    Oh, and also – yes, they did multiple sampling for their research. And the results are even more interesting, I will write more about it!


    1. Thanks! Sorry for delay in responding… Yes, I assumed multiple sampling would be necessary. I know nothing about technology specifically, but from overall logic and social research practices, it’s the only way to draw reliable conclusions. And much easier to sample google searches than actual people…

      Also trying to wrap my mind about geographic differences being so profound on such closely related countries as Canada and USA. Especially because Canada has been in denial over its own racism for a while.

      “That’s why during the Q&A, they were talking about the importance of testing when the search algorithms are developed.”
      Again, knowing nothing about tech development – is testing during development not a standard practice? Or is it more that the perspectives on how much testing is sufficient/optimal really vary?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I really planned to write ore on that topic over the weekend, but life got REALLY crazy! (as you know by now :)) Still on my list. Thank you for your questions! I will try to cover all of them in the next post on that topic.


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