Squirrel's Nest - Oravan Pesä - Podcast Episode 2

Squirrel’s Nest EPISODE 2: Monitor Thyself

Editor and mediator: Maria Villa Largacha

What are the concerns involved and the complex challenges of designing technology for a better, safer life? What is the flip side of the quantified self? How to ensure the agency, autonomy and control users have over their data? How does it support skills like reflection and self-regulation? What can prototypes built in Media Design labs teach us about human learning processes?

We invited two Aalto researchers to discuss self-monitoring in relation to autonomous learning processes, and the utility of user-centered media design in supporting difficult situations like the process of recovering from the trauma of intimate partner violence.  We talk with Laura Uusitalo and Eva Durall about their MA and PhD research projects, digging into the complexities of the multidisciplinary development and participatory design of these tools. We examine the needs of population in high-risk of abuse, the risks and opportunities that information technology enables in abusive situations, and the cultural implications of the increasing technological mediation of our private life.


Laura Uusitalo “Designing for women experiencing intimate partner violence” Aalto Media Design Masters Thesis, 2018.  

Eva Durall (PhD candidate Aalto Department of Media with the project “Feeler: Self-Monitoring for Supporting Reflection in Learning”).

Monitor Thyself

2:00 Critical research in Media Design: user-centered approach developments to support wellbeing. Potential and side effects of collecting personal data.

7:00 Tracking emotions, learning and the expectation of changing behavior. What is autonomous learning?

12:40 Technologies supporting processes of recovery from abuse. Empowerment.

15:15 Women rights, abuse and the private sphere. A public health problem.

18:00 The large-scale discussion on abuse. #Metoo movement.

20:50 Supporting reflection and recovery: the tools users need in their personal paths and circumstances.

24:00 Designing tools for processes and users in all kinds of stages.

How to reach all the different needs?

29:00 Interpretation and impact of monitoring technologies. Current boom of development.

33:10 Data management, neutrality, and surveillance. Competitive culture where apps are thriving.

36:30 Cultural pressure and societal problems involved in self-assessment. Victims are often the ones blamed.

39:00 Power relations in society and in education. How might critical learning processes redefine them?

41:00 Awareness and empowerment. Turning points: hitting the rock bottom.

46:50 Technologies of the Self, self-awareness, biopolitics: monitoring physiological data, for what purpose?

50:00 Technologies augmenting our abilities also filter our understanding in problematic ways.

52:00 Can technology support empathy?

54:00 Web is a weapon. Infrastructure and responsibility needed for data management. Public policy frames.

58:30 Dealing with complexity and social aspects in Media Design. The challenge of true transdisciplinarity.

1:03:30 Education: a powerful tool to bypass power relations and build a more egalitarian society.

1:06:00 Findings and design implications. Re-routing after research is done and over with.