Natasha Schüll is a cultural anthropologist and associate professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. Her 2012 book, "Addiction by Design," parses the intimate relationship between the experience of gambling addiction and casino industry design tactics, showing how architectural, atmospheric, ergonomic, audiovisual, and algorithmic-computational techniques are marshalled to suspend—and monetize—gamblers’ attention. Her current book project, "Keeping Track," explores the rise of sensor-based, digital technologies of the self and the new modes of introspection, self-care, and self-regulation they offer. Her documentary film, "Buffet: All You Can Eat Las Vegas," has screened multiple times on PBS and appeared in numerous film festivals. Her research and op-eds have been featured in 60 Minutes, The New York Times, The Economist, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Financial Times, Salon, NPR, WGBH and WNYC.

Talk: Compass to Sentinel: the Automation of Self-tracking Technology

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Abstract: The talk draws on ethnographic fieldwork to argue that a shift is underway in the logic of behavioral guidance informing the design and use of so-called self-tracking technology, or apps and wearable devices that sense, record, and analyze users’ data. While first-wave self-tracking technologies were designed to serve as digital compasses that could provide attentive selves with information to help them navigate the choice-filled seas of modern life, newer technologies are designed to serve as sentinels that can stand watch for distracted and overwhelmed selves, providing just-in-time micronudges to keep them on track.