Language and access:
World Englishes, Universal Design for Learning, and writing pedagogy

Helping a student storyboard a digital comic at a university outreach event in 2016. Photo by Bruce Matsunaga.Teaching frameworks that highlight diversity of language and expression enable students from all backgrounds to succeed and thrive in the writing classroom. This article places two such frameworks into conversation: World Englishes (WE) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). World Englishes examines the use of different varieties of English in their respective socio-cultural contexts, advocating for understanding varieties based on their own local standards, rather than a constructed hegemonic norm. Universal Design for Learning provides flexible learning environments to enable all students to demonstrate competency in different ways, creating accessible classrooms through multiple modes of expression and means of engagement. This article, published in the October 2020 issue of the Journal of Global Literacies, Technologies, and Emerging Pedagogies (JOGLTEP), illustrates the power of a combined UDL/WE philosophy through applications across writing pedagogy, including first-year composition and doctoral comprehensive exams. PDF of article available here.

User experience design for older adults:
Experience architecture and methodology for users aged 60+

Security questions for account creation on a website, asking "What was the name of your first pet?" "What is your dream job?" and "In what city did your parents meet?"

This paper describes a study that combined interview and observation methods to explore the user experiences of 23 users aged 70+. Interviews involved questions about how and when users learned to use computers and the internet, as well as their usual online activities and difficulties completing those activities. Observations involved two sessions for each user: first, a naturalistic observation where the researcher recorded the participant interacting with the computer(s) in their home, demonstrating their typical internet use; second, a structured task analysis where participants completed a series of increasingly complex operations online, including searching for information on a specific topic, using web mapping tools, and interacting with a government website. Participants followed a think-aloud protocol during both observations, explaining the steps that they were taking and sharing their thought process and feelings with the researcher. The rich qualitative data from this work provides insights into the needs of this population in four specific areas—physical, cognitive, educational, and cultural—as well as design strategies for addressing those needs.

Most downloaded paper from the 2019 ACM-SIGDOC Proceedings. Available for download from the ACM Digital Library.

“Can you hear me now?”:
Revaluing listening’s role in user research practice

Winning the Microsoft-sponsored Student Research Competition award at 2017’s ACM-SIGDOC conference, this project identifies listening as a component of user experience research that has been under-explored in both scholarly and practitioner literature. By combining rhetorical frameworks with existing UX best practices, I called for the revaluation of listening’s role in the data-gathering and analysis process, particularly when the researcher and participants operate from different cultural standpoints. I presented the poster alongside 12 other graduate students at the SIGDOC 2017 Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, before advancing to the final round of oral presentations in front of an audience of faculty, students, and industry professionals in the field of communication design. Full poster available here; paper available here.

Participatory porn culture:
Feminist positions and oppositions in the internet pornosphere

This chapter in Sex in the Digital Age (eds. Nixon & Düsterhöft, 2018, Routledge) describes the results of a study examining the rhetorical differences between pornography consumed by male audiences versus female audiences. Reviews of the collection highlight this work:

The cover image of the 2018 Sex in the Digital Age edited collection, which shows a condom wrapper atop a keyboard“Smith provides an insightful analysis of the democratising effect
of participatory porn culture, accounting for how an historically marginalised female audience negotiates erotic agency as porn consumers and producers through the sharing and curating of sexual content exceeding the boundaries of the male gaze” — Scott Kerpen in Information, Communication & Society (2019, 22.13, 2024-2029)

David Rosen in the New York Journal of Books writes: “Each individual study runs a tightly-packed 10 pages or so… and share a common academic rigor, grounded in detailed analyses and innumerable references to prior studies. Most informative, many of the articles include materials from the author’s primary research. Allegra Smith takes up the ‘porn wars’ that divided feminists during the 1980s and remains a contentious issue. As an alternative, she proposes ‘participatory porn culture,’ an online zone where ‘women’s fantasies are articulated and then depicted on screen . . .’ She stresses, ‘pornography sits tenuously one the contested boundary of public rhetoric and private practice.’ And adds, ‘Internet pornography uniquely demonstrates the symbols and manifestations of an erotic culture that is simultaneously public and private.’

Preprint available here.