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Tuesday, October 8 • 9:00am - 10:30am
Mel Gregg & Deb Chachra Keynotes, Moderated Discussion

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Mel Gregg

Slack, G-Suite, Teams: How the cloud absolves the work of maintenance
In the Client Computing Group at Intel, our studies of professionals over the past few years have shown a growing reliance on cloud services. From communication platforms facilitating the virtual water cooler for distributed teams to freemium software packages carried forward from education, users are turning to cloud services for reasons of ease and convenience. Despite critical concern about data privacy and surveillance, consumers by contrast often claim to “love” Google. Seamlessly synching storage capabilities are a helpful addition to the toolkit of professionals who are navigating a fast-paced and often unpredictable work world. This talk shares findings from a selection of studies to prompt some fundamental questions about the changing nature of knowledge work, especially the cognitive burden of maintaining order and access to up-to-date files in an environment of information overload.

Deb Chachra

Caring for People, Maintaining Systems: The Future of Infrastructure

In water-stressed Mexico City, an estimated 30% of the water is lost to leaks in aging, poorly-maintained municipal pipes. Neighborhoods like Iztapalapa, both poor and far from reservoirs, are dependent on water deliveries from pipas, or water trucks, whose erratic schedules may even prevent women from holding jobs outside the home. Many of us take it for granted that we can come home, turn on the lights, fill a pot with clean water from a tap, put it on the stove, take fresh food from the fridge, and soon sit down to dinner. Our networked infrastructures—water, sewage, electricity, natural gas and more—make us, in Paul Graham Raven’s phrase, ‘collective cyborgs’: these systems extend our reach, power, and control far into the landscape around us, not as individuals but as a community. In the domestic realm, they augment or replace daily labor, often gendered labor, so while they underpin the autonomy and agency of all of us, their impact on women’s lives is disproportionate. We are realizing that our infrastructural systems are at an inflection point: we need them to be sustainable, including decarbonizing their energy footprint, but also resilient, particularly in the face of climate change, and equitable, in their role as key contributors to equality of opportunity. But precisely because of our critical and continuous dependence on these systems, they can’t be disrupted, or even neglected: they need to be maintained, even as we reconsider them and build out new systems. Infrastructure is always a palimpsest, never a clean slate. From the year-long electrical outage in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, to biowarfare waged by the deliberate neglect of water and sanitation systems in Syria, the failure to maintain infrastructural systems—one of “society’s small, sacred trusts” (in Tracy Kidder’s words)—can have devastating consequences.

Tuesday October 8, 2019 9:00am - 10:30am EDT