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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Beautiful Moments – Saturday

It’s Sunday night, and a new work week ahead. I spent many hours of this weekend writing, and it seems like there was no weekend at all. But then I remember many happy moment of the past two days , and I thinking – it was a good weekend!

I biked to the Farmers’ Market Saturday morning
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“Let the Children Play” – a Book Review

Let the Children Play” is the last book from my long list of winter/spring reading, which I wanted to write about and still didn’t. This book is relatively new, and based on my interest in education, especially in American and Finnish secondary education. I should have been among the first people reading and reviewing it. Indeed, this book was in my to-read list for a while.

However, after I finished the book, I was unsure how I felt about it, and I decided to let it sit for a while. Then the quarantine happened, and the topic of in-person education was too painful to address. But since I do not believe that our education is altered forever, I decided I will still write a review.

There are many excellent observations in this book, and all the right things are said, but there were still things that bothered me.

What I didn’t like, was a description of an American school and American parents. It does not seem to resonate with my experience. Sure, parents like that exist :), but that’s not an accurate picture of a typical American parent. One of the reasons could be that Sahlberg experienced an American school in a very academic environment. He was trying to place his child into pre-school close to Sanford, where, I guess, the school standards were aligned with very specific demands of parents in academia. Moreover, I have a suspicion that many of these parents themselves never attended at American school when they were small children, and that their expectations might have come from a different culture.

I may be wrong with the above speculations, but I am sure – it’s not like a school my kids went. From day one in school, I admired the way their teachers made the learning process fun. The kids didn’t even know it was “education.” Fro their point of view, they were playing, doing art projects, listening to their teacher reading books, doing puzzles, and then all of a sudden – “check whether your child can count to one-hundred.”

My second objection is that I can’t entirely agree with the authors that “letting children play” will resolve all school problems. Especially towards the end of the book, that’s how it sounds: just let them play, and everything will be fine. Although the authors cite some experiences in low-income communities, underfunded schools need funds. And schools in communities with a history of socioeconomic disparities need more help as well.

“Music and Clowns”

A very short but extremely powerful movie about Jamie who has Down syndrome

Yip Abides

This documentary by Alex Widdowson is about Alex’s brother, Jamie. Alex Widdowson describes the film this way:

“We rarely see portrayals of the diverse, ordinary lives of people who have Down syndrome (unless we are connected to someone who has it). Much of what we hear instead is based off a medical narrative. As prenatal screening tests improve, the birth rate of people with Downs has fallen. I believe people should be able to base life-changing decisions on accurate information. But I also feel that a diagnosis does not reflect my brother’s human worth. This film attempts to complement the medical narrative with first-hand stories of what it is like to have someone with Down syndrome in your family. Jamie has enriched our lives and I believe a society can be measured by its capacity to nurture those who are most vulnerable.”

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Writing Takes Up All The Time

I am not panicking at all, and I do not sit staring at a blank screen, not knowing what to write. On the contrary, I know exactly what I want to write, and it’s a lot

I am not talking about blogging; I am talking about the book. The Book. I put up a calendar with deadlines for each chapter, and I realized how challenging the schedule is going to be. I feel that the only thing I am doing these days, except for work and chores, is writing. 

Meanwhile, I have so many thoughts I want to share! And I listened to so many books recently. Actually, it’s mostly thoughts about books I want to share:). I even put it in my to-do list, so chances are I will!

Matter Does Not Disappear!

A week before Easter, when the future of traveling was one big unknown, I wanted to do something special for Boris, and I, with his consent, mailed him a parcel. There were several small bike accessories that he ordered on Amazon planning to pick them up when he would come in March (which didn’t happen). And a couple of other small things, which I added. Overall, it was a small parcel, and I marked it as a gift and put some small value on it.

The mail was slow back then. I checked the package status every day. It took mother than three weeks for it to be cleared with customs and depart from ORD. That happened on May 5, and after that, I haven’t seen any changes in its status.

I tried to file a “missing mail,” but since the package already left the US, and didn’t arrive in Finland, none of the postal services would start the investigation. I sadly pronounced the package lost.
On Wednesday, after I already departed, Boris got a notice from Finnish customs. It turned out that sometime between departure from ORD and arriving in HEL, the house number and the apartment number of the package address where switched. For some reason, some taxes were due on that shipment, but Boris didn’t know since the notice was sent to the wrong address. After the address confusion was resolved and the notice was delivered to Boris, it was too later – the shipment was sent back!
… After all, I was glad to find out that matter does not disappear!

Eyes And Travel

 do not think I wrote in detail about my last eyes-related updates. After my visit to the LensCrafters, things only got better. Fist, I got my multifocal eyeglasses. They work almost perfectly, which was especially important during my air travel. It was the first time I traveled without any worries about the contact lenses and them being in my eyes for way too long. The only thing I find slightly inconvenient with them is that the reading part of glasses interferes with going down the stairs and looking in the direction of the floor in general. 

Also, I tried the multifocal contacts, and that was a life-changing experience. It’s very close to what I was hoping to achieve after the cataract surgery. I still need the reading glasses, but only when I type or look at a really small print, and then it is +1, not +2.75. The doctor reduced the strength of both my glasses and lenses, which helped a lot. 

What it has to do with my travel? First, as I said, I was able to travel in glasses. Second, it is unbelievable how many more things I can see now! 

I am still learning to use my vision, still learning to look both further and closer. I was biking a lot all these days, and I was way more aware of my surroundings than before. 

Also, although I still have my double-vision, it is now localized to a very specific distance. It’s precisely the distance where I need to see the cars in front of me, so I still need my driving glasses. But first, I think that now the prisms can be reduced, a second – now I feel that this can be corrected. 

My all eyes ordeal started when I went to the doctor to correct my double vision. After all these surgeries, I thought that I do not want to do anything for a while. But now I think that it may be a good time to try to fix it. 

Air Conditioning and the Virus

Copying yesterday’s Tribune article – exactly what I was talking about for weeks. Source – here

There’s an invisible obstacle to reviving Chicago’s economy from the coronavirus pandemic.

Potential transmission of the virus through air conditioning and heating systems is the latest issue employers and building owners are focusing on as they prepare for more people to head back to office towers and other non-residential buildings, whether they’re office workers or school teachers and students.

Continue reading “Air Conditioning and the Virus”