Design for Invisibility

“Designing for Invisibility”, seeks to imagine new design paradigms that are cognizant of the interplay between the formal and informal. The goal of this project is studying invisible work and practices in more depth and in the process helping design for marginalized groups that purposely seek to remain invisible.

There are trade-offs between visibility and invisibility - individuals seek privacy and anonymity. In terms of informal economies, visibility can inhibit experimentation and creativity, but, on the other hand, also help with accountability. When we look at marginalized groups looking to avoid the panoptic gaze of the state, invisibility becomes intrinsically intertwined with their political, social, and economic freedom.

HCI studies (with the exception of privacy studies) do not deal with surveillance and the state as a context for technology use. How do people maintain invisibility within highly complex infrastructural environments? Often dominated by western values of design, studies assume a liberal democratic environment - which is not the case in many countries in the Global South (and parts of the Global North). How can HCI design work under state imposed surveillance?

  1. Chandra, P. (2017). Informality and invisibility: Traditional technologies as tools for collaboration in an informal market. In Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 4765-4775).
  2. Social obfusctation and Communication Practices (Project in Progress)
Priyank Chandra
Postdoctoral Fellow

I study design and informality focusing on communities who live on the margins.