Melanie Feinberg

Melanie Feinberg is Associate Professor in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

  • Everyday Adventures with Unruly Data

    Everyday Adventures with Unruly Data

    Melanie Feinberg

    Paired informal and scholarly essays show how everyday events reveal fundamental concepts of data, including its creation, aggregation, management, and use.

    Whether questioning numbers on a scale, laughing at a misspelling of one's name, or finding ourselves confused in a foreign supermarket, we are engaging with data. The only way to handle data responsibly, says Melanie Feinberg in this incisive work, is to take into account its human character. Though the data she discusses may seem familiar, close scrutiny shows it to be ambiguous, complicated, and uncertain: unruly. Drawing on the tools of information science, she uses everyday events such as deciding between Blender A and Blender B on Amazon to demonstrate a practical, critical, and generative mode of thinking about data: its creation, management, aggregation, and use.

    Each chapter pairs a self-contained main essay (an adventure) with a scholarly companion essay (the reflection). The adventure begins with an anecdote—visiting the library, running out of butter, cooking rice on a different stove. Feinberg argues that to understand the power and pitfalls of data science, we must attend to the data itself, not merely the algorithms that manipulate it. As she reflects on the implications of commonplace events, Feinberg explicates fundamental concepts of data that reveal the many tiny design decisions—which may not even seem like design at all—that shape how data comes to be. Through the themes of serendipity, objectivity, equivalence, interoperability, taxonomy, labels, and locality, she illuminates the surprisingly pervasive role of data in our daily thoughts and lives.

    • Paperback $35.00


  • Critical Theory and Interaction Design

    Critical Theory and Interaction Design

    Jeffrey Bardzell, Shaowen Bardzell, and Mark Blythe

    Classic texts by thinkers from Althusser to Žižek alongside essays by leaders in interaction design and HCI show the relevance of critical theory to interaction design.

    Why should interaction designers read critical theory? Critical theory is proving unexpectedly relevant to media and technology studies. The editors of this volume argue that reading critical theory—understood in the broadest sense, including but not limited to the Frankfurt School—can help designers do what they want to do; can teach wisdom itself; can provoke; and can introduce new ways of seeing. They illustrate their argument by presenting classic texts by thinkers in critical theory from Althusser to Žižek alongside essays in which leaders in interaction design and HCI describe the influence of the text on their work. For example, one contributor considers the relevance Umberto Eco's “Openness, Information, Communication” to digital content; another reads Walter Benjamin's “The Author as Producer” in terms of interface designers; and another reflects on the implications of Judith Butler's Gender Trouble for interaction design. The editors offer a substantive introduction that traces the various strands of critical theory.

    Taken together, the essays show how critical theory and interaction design can inform each other, and how interaction design, drawing on critical theory, might contribute to our deepest needs for connection, competency, self-esteem, and wellbeing.

    ContributorsJeffrey Bardzell, Shaowen Bardzell, Olav W. Bertelsen, Alan F. Blackwell, Mark Blythe, Kirsten Boehner, John Bowers, Gilbert Cockton, Carl DiSalvo, Paul Dourish, Melanie Feinberg, Beki Grinter, Hrönn Brynjarsdóttir Holmer, Jofish Kaye, Ann Light, John McCarthy, Søren Bro Pold, Phoebe Sengers, Erik Stolterman, Kaiton Williams., Peter Wright

    Classic textsLouis Althusser, Aristotle, Roland Barthes, Seyla Benhabib, Walter Benjamin, Judith Butler, Arthur Danto, Terry Eagleton, Umberto Eco, Michel Foucault, Wolfgang Iser, Alan Kaprow, Søren Kierkegaard, Bruno Latour, Herbert Marcuse, Edward Said, James C. Scott, Slavoj Žižek

    • Hardcover $90.00