D. Fox Harrell’s research explores the use of the computer as an expressive and cultural medium. As described in his recent book Phantasmal Media: An Approach to Imagination, Computation, and Expression (MIT Press), through both building and analyzing systems, he investigates how the computer can be used to express cultural meanings through data-structures and algorithms. In this talk, focusing on cultural meanings of social identity, Harrell explores how our identities are complicated by their intersection with computing technologies including social networking, gaming, virtual worlds and related media forms. Toward this end, Harrell will discuss how data-structures and algorithms in popular videogames and social media implement not only persistent issues of class, gender, sex, race, and ethnicity, but also dynamic construction of social categories, discourse, metaphorical thought, body language, fashion, and more. He shall then present technologies developed in his research group, the MIT Imagination, Computation, and Expression Laboratory, which offer more nuanced and expressive ways to computationally model identity-related phenomena such as social status, marginalization, and social stigma in digital media.
Bio: D. Fox Harrell, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Digital Media in the Comparative Media Studies Program and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT. He founded and directs the MIT Imagination, Computation, and Expression Laboratory (ICE Lab). Harrell holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science and Cognitive Science from the University of California, San Diego. In 2010, he received a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award for his project “Computing for Advanced Identity Representation.” His recent book Phantasmal Media: An Approach to Imagination, Computation, and Expression was published in 2013 by the MIT Press. He is a 2014-15 Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and recipient of the Lenore Annenberg and Wallis Annenberg Fellowship in Communication.