Research Associate in Communication Eric Baumer will be discussing some work-in-progress on the topic of: "On Computational Imaginary: Lay Beliefs about What Computing Systems Can Do and Should Do".

Various researchers have provided accounts -- technical, philosophical, or otherwise -- for what computers can, and implicitly cannot, do. However, relatively little work has explored this question empirically by examining contextualized lay beliefs about the capabilities of various computing systems systems. In this informal talk, I describe work-in-progress that develops the notion of the "computational imaginary." The talk is based on analysis of interview data wherein study participants describe their beliefs about what a system for analyzing political language might be able to do. I use these data to develop two dimensions of the computational imaginary: the descriptive dimension (i.e., what computers can do) and the normative dimension (i.e., what computers should). This two dimensional analytic framework may be of use in a variety of endeavors, from participatory design to future studies.

There will be snacks from Manndible.