Keynote Speakers

Rigo Award Keynote: UX Research: A Reflection on the Past, the Present, and the Future

Dr. Jan Spyridakis, University of Washington

Dr. Spyridakis will explore the trajectory of user research in the past 30 years, using much of her research as a basis for the talk. This exploration will briefly examine her research path starting with research questions that examined paper documents with extremely controlled experiments using participants in research labs, moving to studies that investigated online documents and websites with remote methods. These broadening approaches moved from looking at individuals in isolation to individuals in context to individuals in community. Now we are looking at larger data sets, crowd patterns, etc. Not only do the media, platforms, and methods we study continue to change, but our research questions, settings, and tools also continue to evolve. Users and industry are ongoingly demanding that user researchers be able to refocus their researcher questions and methods to keep up with shifting user demands, needs, and interests. As academics conducting UX research, we must be able to educate the next generation of UX researchers to keep up with shifting industry demands given the internet of things and ever evolving user interfaces


Dr. Jan H. Spyridakis is a Professor in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington. Her research focuses on using remote UX methods to assess how the design of online information affects users; designing contextualized best practices for the design of online information; and using online tools and information to support leadership and advancement of women in science and engineering. She is the recipient of six teaching and ten research awards. She serves on three editorial boards and is a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication. She was described as most prolific experimental researcher with the largest number of published research articles in the last 20 years in technical communication journals in an article in the December 2013 issue of the IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication.


The Chaos of Context: Presentation, Perception, and Agency
Dr. Richard Forno, UMBC

Public portrayals of the digital landscape, particularly through the entertainment mass media and product marketing, can have a profound influence on how the general public perceive the technology and its strengths and limitations. Over time, these images, stereotypes and dramatized capabilities are replicated across texts and repeated until they become the default paradigm for understanding a complex and ever-changing technological environment.

For example, one only needs to observe legislative bodies or watch mainstream news media trying to come to understand issues such as encryption, cybersecurity, or even pluralistic applications of the term “to hack” to see just how deeply the stereotype of the god-like but socially maladjusted ‘hacker’ have penetrated popular perceptions.  Metaphors that act as a useful shorthand in fictional storytelling do not make a good basis for policy decisionmaking, but when sensationalized depictions of the reach, scope and capacity of the technologies drown out more sophisticated or nuanced descriptions of that capacity in practice, it is understandable why unrealistic expectations and unworkable proposals for technology – like encryption backdoors – continue to be proposed.

Drawing on examples from the media, academia, politics, and the technology industry, this keynote explores the connections between past and ongoing media tropes around technology/technologists and current debates in the field.  This interpretively analyzed keynote argues that perception is just as important as performance, and rather than railing against the ‘stupidity’ or ‘ignorance’ around advances in technology, acknowledges instead that the models used by mass society (including policy makers) to understand digital innovations are part of a wider set of  mass cultural messages that have served a purpose but now need to be updated.  Addressing the assumptions and inaccuracies of  these shared media-fuelled perceptions of the emerging digital society is an important part of understanding and overcoming conflicts between technology and policy.


Dr. Richard Forno’s academic and professional career has been spent bridging contexts and overcoming perceptions at the intersection of technology and practice. He is a senior lecturer in the UMBC Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, where he directs (and teaches in) UMBC’s graduate cybersecurity program, serves as the Assistant Director of UMBC’s Center for Cybersecurity, and is a Junior Affiliate Scholar at the Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society (CIS).

Although a student of the humanities, Richard is a self-taught geek whose twenty-year career spans the government, military, and private sector, including helping build a formal cybersecurity program for the US House of Representatives, serving as the first Chief Security Officer for the InterNIC, and co-founding the CyberMaryland conference. Richard was also one of the early researchers on the subject of “information warfare” and he remains a longtime commentator on the influence of Internet technology upon society.