milena radzikowska.

Feminist Design: Research + Teaching + Practice

Sketch for TAPoR 3.0 – privileging the collection.

I write, teach, and research as a feminist and practicing design researcher; I aim to be a mentor and community builder. My work in human-computer interaction is reciprocally informed by my passion for creating safer, more inclusive, and compelling spaces, both digital and analog. My design and research work is interdisciplinary and collaborative, marked by a passion to work in the service to others.

Since 2005 I’ve worked on over 25 interdisciplinary design research projects, four of those had budgets in the millions, extending over longer periods (anywhere from two to seven years). I have also been involved in smaller projects, funded through the Alberta Colleges and Technical Institutes program and the Alberta government. Finally, as part of my doctoral work, my project was funded through the NSERC program and collaborated with an industry partner, fellow PhD students, and colleagues in engineering, computing science, and humanities computing on a project to develop a framework for plant-wide decision-making.

I have had the great privilege to work on large, medium, and small, national and international research teams. My work has been iterative and experimental – meant to challenge existing interface design conventions and explore unique alternatives to complex visualization problems. All my design work has benefitted from collaboration with a brilliant, insightful, and passionate community of students and fellow researchers.

My passion lies in the potential of design to serve those who are part of marginalized, vulnerable, or under-represented communities. I’ve designed interfaces to support humanities scholars in their work; to connect breast cancer survivors; to help protect wildlife in provincial parks; and to challenge marginalizing practices in the oil sands. I’ve volunteered design services with numerous not-for-profit organizations, including UNICEF, John Humphrey Centre for Human Rights and Freedoms, Nova Scotia Palliative Care Association, Nova Scotia Heart & Stroke Foundation, and Atlantic Bag Manufacturers.

I have an Masters in Design (MDes) in Visual Communication and a PhD in Comparative Literature and Humanities Computing from the University of Alberta. I’ve co-authored more than 50 publications on data visualization, aesthetics, interaction design, interaction theory, and design for large text collections. I am the co-author of the book Visual Interface Design for Digital Cultural Heritage: A Guide to Rich-Prospect Browsing.

Keywords: Critical Design, Information Design, Data Visualization, Feminist HCI, Rich-Prospect Browsing, Human-Computer Interaction, Decision Support Systems, User Engagement, Design Strategy

Current Projects

  • Visualization for decision support in multi-modal industry
  • Materialization of Text Analytical Experiences
  • Implementing New Knowledge Environments (INKE), which includes:
    • workflows as structured surfaces
    • the dynamic table of contexts
    • the paper drill
  • Graphical Representation of Collection Items
  • TAPoR: Text Analysis Portal for Research
  • Digital Humanities + Interaction Design Repository
  • Introducing Significant Design Change in Digital Humanities
  • Extending Rich-Prospect Browsing Theory
  • Critical Theory Approach to Visibility and Pluralism in Design

Graduate Advising

I am looking for graduate students to work with me on projects that deal with the theorization, design, prototyping, and testing of experimental information artifacts, interactive tools, and data visualizations.

The main focus of my research activities is in the design and development of interactive systems that enhance human access to information using visual and information design processes and techniques. I am driven by a user-centred approach and the belief that machines should help meet human needs, whether to entertain, educate, collaborate, make decisions, or complete tasks. The subject matter of these projects can potentially cover a wide range, and I welcome students who want to investigate a subject emergent out of their own interests and passions.

Many of the interfaces I have designed are experimental in nature. Experimental interface design typically proceeds iteratively, through a research life cycle that includes three phases: conceptual and theoretical work supported by sketches; prototyping informed by user study; and production and implementation, with further information provided by analysis of logs. The objective of this research is not primarily to implement current best practices, but rather to help invent the next generation of best practices.

I am particularly interested in design as theory reification, in critical design, and in feminist HCI.