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Deborah Tatar

Deborah Tatar is a professor of computer science and, by courtesy, psychology, at Virginia Tech.


Posts By Deborah Tatar

Margaret Atwood: Too big to fail?

Posted: Mon, May 12, 2014 - 10:27:33

Margaret Atwood gave the opening plenary for the CHI conference in Toronto in late April. When Atwood’s name was announced at the Associate Chair meeting the prior December, the audience was divided into two groups, the “Who?” group and the group that gasped “The Margaret Atwood?” Even though the second group was significantly smaller than the first, Atwood’s presence was…

It’s spring and a girl’s thoughts turn to design (and meaning)

Posted: Fri, April 04, 2014 - 10:37:40

It’s spring. Spring for me is always associated not so much with the bulbs that turn Blacksburg into a really beautiful place, but with serious thoughts about values. Of course, there are a lot of holidays associated with spring, but mine is Passover. And renewal is associated with thoughts about the aspiration to live rightly. In my childhood, in New…

Aarhus and methods: post-visit reflections

Posted: Thu, February 20, 2014 - 11:51:26

One day, when I was young in Boston, a friend and I were discussing how people cross streets. I described what I thought of as the urban method, a negotiation between pedestrian and driver. My friend, equally young, but male, objected to my characterization. He said, "You just think that it happens that way because cars stop when you step…

Letter from Aarhus: scale and perspective

Posted: Thu, November 21, 2013 - 11:41:38

In addition to appreciating the ways in which Denmark has a design culture, which I wrote about last time, I am also appreciating not being in America, in two ways. One way is perspective. Although I read the New York Times every day, I am somehow freer of media pressure here. This shows up in a funny way. When I…

Letter from Aarhus

Posted: Fri, October 11, 2013 - 12:02:29

I am spending my sabbatical at Aarhus in Denmark. Aarhus is quite a hub for design research activity. DIS 2010 was held here; the Media Architecture Biennale was here in 2012; IDC 2014 will be here next June (paper deadline January 13, demos March 21!); there was an intense two-week workshop here last summer for senior researchers and Ph.D. candidates…

Number 9: Names, Facebook, and identity

Posted: Thu, July 11, 2013 - 10:42:20

Facebook recently informed me that my name is deborah.tatar.9. Oh. Really? I grew up in a sub-culture of America that believed in sending kids to sleep-away camps to get them out of the squalor of the city (“Hot town summer in the city/Back of my neck gettin’ dirty and gritty”). Consequently, as a “tween” and a teen I did a…

Design, CHI, richness of spirit

Posted: Mon, May 13, 2013 - 12:19:11

Since returning from Paris, I have been tapping away, writing about CHI, commenting on the papers, the panels, the oblique and direct epistemologies. But what keeps rising to the top is not CHI, but Paris. I spent the summer of 1983 in Paris, and two weeks in 1995 but have scarcely been there since. What has happened? For the conference,…

Ai Weiwei, names, and memories (The background - foreground playground)

Posted: Tue, April 23, 2013 - 12:56:02

This is the fourth in a series of postings I’ve been writing about Ai Weiwei’s recently closed retrospective at the Hirshhorn, the significance of AI Weiwei’s art with respect to its commentary on the children who died in the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, and, implicitly, the relationship between design, representations, and society. This is, of course, a more art-centric view…

Ai Weiwei Part 3 (The background - foreground playground)

Posted: Mon, March 11, 2013 - 9:48:52

Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist with a recently closed show at the Hirschorn, memorializes the dead children of the 2008 Sichuan province earthquake in another form besides that mentioned in my last twopostings. He accounts for them by listing out their names and information about them, one to a cell, on large sheets of thick light-green paper lined with darker…

Ai Weiwei and the system (The background - foreground playground)

Posted: Tue, February 05, 2013 - 11:23:34

Ai Weiwei's activism in the effort to understand the schools' collapse during the Sichuan earthquake of 2008 has not been confined to the realm of the truth of art. It has also focused on the actual truth of how many children died, who they were, and why the schools were so poorly built. He and his team have been detained…