Professor Barry Brown is a research professor at the University of Stockholm, where he helps to run STIR: the Stockholm technology and interaction research group. He is also a Professor at Copenhagen University, within the HCC group. This group has received funding from Vinnova, SSF, VR, Wallenburg, Microsoft, Nissan, Mozilla and the EU. His two most recent books have been published by Sage and MIT Press, focusing on how to research the use of digital technology, and the study and design of leisure technologies. Professor Brown previously worked as the research director of the Mobile Life research centre (2011-2017), and as an associate professor in the Department of Communication at UCSD (2007-2011). He has published over 100 papers in human computer interaction and social science forums, along with five ACM best paper nominations (CHI, CSCW, Ubicomp), one ACM best paper award (CHI) and a recent 10-year impact award from the Ubicomp conference. In terms of research funding he has received over $8 million (75 milion SEK) in research funding from the UK research councils, NSF, and European and Swedish Funding agencies. His research has also been covered in the international press including the Guardian, Time, New York Times, Sydney Morning Herald, Voice of America and Fortune Magazine.

Talk: Everyone Has to Hack: Hacking From the Users’ Perspective

This talk will be held in-person on the Cornell Tech campus and with virtual attendance option.

Attend via Zoom // meeting ID 920 3940 7949 // passcode 768035

Abstract: This talk explores hacking from the users perspective, studying both what is it like to be hacked, alongside when users themselves do the hacking. I’ll start with our research studying users’ experiences of having their devices hacked, drawing on reports from online discussions and Amazon product reviews. These reports, and the discussions around them, show how uncertainty is at the heart of ’being hacked’. Hacks are sometimes difficult to detect, and users can mistake unusual system behaviour as evidence of a hack. Yet these ‘imagine hacks’ can still cause considerable emotional hurt and harm. This lets us explore hacks not as just technical system failings, but as sites for care and support.  I then move onto discussing when users themselves are doing the hacking:  at times users desire functionality that goes beyond what designers, and the organisations they work in, are willing to supply.  This can include features that go against regulations, or the economics interests of developers and companies.  I discuss how users discover and apply system exploits - hacking their own technology - across four cases: users of CPAP breathing assistance machines getting access to their own sleep data, ‘hacking’ the Nintendo switch game console to pirate games, end-users building their own insulin supply system, and farmers repairing their own agriculture equipment against suppliers’ terms and conditions. This points us towards how we can understand the political and economic situations of technology development and use.