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ATARI WOMEN - retro gaming and the women pioneers behind them

Pernille Bjørn

Abstract: Only few women choose a career in computer science. Since 2016, I been interested in understanding this strange phenomenon, with the purpose of making a difference and actively change the current situation. A core issue is not about attracting women to join computer science, but instead about changing the ways in which computer science is displayed and perceived from within. One fundamental tale about computer science is that it is closely linked to computer game development, as games have often been used as a way to demonstrate superior software and hardware capabilities within research labs. Further the popularity of games and gaming culture is prevalent and perceived predominantly as male in western societies. However, women played important roles when the gaming industry was being established in the 70s and 80s, but only few know their names and their stories. Focusing on the Atari gaming console, which has famously manifested the start of the gaming industry in the USA, we identified 29 CIS- and trans-women who made important contributions to Atari, and 13 allowed us to tell their stories. In this keynote, Professor Pernille Bjørn will tell the stories of Atari Women celebrating the women, who made important contribution to Atari in the 70s and 80s . The purpose of telling the stories of Atari Women is to challenge the contemporary predominantly masculine representation of computer game development and re-work current historical (“retro”) celebratory memories of gaming to include hidden stories about women’s contributions. The aim is to shape current narratives about computing by re-writing the history of gaming through design activities. Finally, she will present intertextual design as an HCI design approach that 1) uses design to create new historical referents (connecting present contexts with people who carry past stories); and 2) harnesses nostalgia and fame to amplify the impacts of those referents on computing cultures today and in the years to come. Basically, re-writing the history of gaming is about stating that diverse gender identities are not new in gaming, they have always been there and they are still here. Atari women and their contributions must be remembered to change the future.

Bio: Pernille Bjørn is Full professor & Head of Department for Research at the Department of Computer Science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark (DIKU). In 2016, professor Bjørn initiated a research initiative (Femtech.dk) aimed at changing the gender diversity in computing eduction and profession by utilising Makerspace Methodologies. In September 2019, she returned from 1-year Fulbright Scholarship as visiting professor at University of Washington, in the HCDE department. During this year, she worked on uncovering the hidden stories of women in the early days of the gaming industry, and creating artefacts which allow these stories to become part of the digital archives and history of gaming. She is the co-founder of Atari Women (atariwomen.org), which have been displayed at Emerald City ComicCon2019 and at the Living Computers Museum in Seattle 2019. Besides research on gender diversity in computer science, Professor Bjørn research is within the area of Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Human Computer Interaction studying global software development (e.g. unpacking the dark side of global agile), healthcare information systems (e.g. exploring variation and standardization), and tech entrepreneurship (e.g. the inaccessible infrastructures for tech entrepreneurs in the West Bank). She has a strong international profile having spent 1 year at University of Washington, 1 year at University of California, Irvine, and 2 years at Simon Fraser University, Canada. Pernille Bjørn have served in numerous trusted high ranking research community positions such as paper co-chair for CHI2020, ECSCW2018, and CSCW2016. Currently she serves as papers co-chair for CHI2021.

Real world approaches to human-computer collaboration

Mira Lane

Abstract: Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence have the potential to upend the way we create, work, and connect with one another. This disruption is an opportunity and a challenge. As we see technologies begin to closely replicate aspects of creative human output, we must consider the evolution of our relationship to technology. New technologies alter our interactions with one other, they have the potential to empower and rapidly turn our ideas into reality, and yet… we all know that we must tread intentionally in this new era. Should we aim for more ambitious relationships between computers and ourselves and what does responsible innovation mean in an increasingly complex and interconnected world?

Bio: Mira Lane is the Partner Director of Ethics & Society within Cloud & AI at Microsoft. Mira runs a multidisciplinary team within an engineering context that is responsible for guiding technical and experience innovation towards ethical, responsible, and sustainable outcomes. The technology areas of interest to her team include speech & language, computer vision, ambient devices, intelligent meetings, intelligent agents, and mixed reality (AR, VR, HoloLens). Mira’s history at Microsoft has focused on experience strategy, incubation of new product concepts, and bringing products to market. She holds numerous patents across platforms and collaborative interfaces. She has held various roles through her technology career in development, product management, UX architect and design. Mira has a background in art, computer science, and mathematics. Her video art has been featured in film festivals and galleries.