Human-Computer Interaction Designer Toombs' Lecture on Everyday Care in Sociotechnical Communities

Austin Toombs, Assistant Professor at Purdue University, in the Department of Computer Graphics Technology

(Jan. 26, 2018) - Austin Toombs, Assistant Professor of Computer Graphics Technology within the Purdue Polytechnic Institute at Purdue University delivered the first School of Information Science talk of the spring semester. His talk, From Hackerspaces to Parent Groups: Everyday Care in Sociotechnical Communities, focuses on maker and hacker identities, hackerspaces, and groups for new parents to unpack how people use technologies and technology ecosystems to care for each other, their neighbors, and their communities in an "everyday" sense.

Toombs earned a master's degree and Ph.D. in Informatics from Indiana University and holds a bachelor's degree in computer science from Ball State University. Previously, Toombs worked as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Open Lab at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom. His professional experiences includes an internship at LexisNexis where he developed information visualization techniques to be used in analyzing user experience reports and interactive mockups of mobile versions of LexisNexis systems and a software development position at the Institute for Digital Entertainment and Education. Toombs research focus is about how digital technologies impact how communities are formed and maintained. He is particularly interested in the role that sociotechnical system designs play in and how interpersonal relationships are sanctioned within a community. 

In his talk, Toombs discusses how he implemented his research in digital civics, which includes the public in design, to develop a workshop for parents transitioning to new parents. His research question involved how he could design something for this type of care using technology. He expressed in the intial thoughts of phase 1 that new parents are often resistant to joining parent groups or making "baby-friends." Toombs thinks that designers can center around vulnerability and produce something that makes sure parents are supported in this type of transition. 

The School of Information Sicence hosts talks each semester to promote community building, collaboration, and education in the information science field. To that end, a variety of outside scholars are invited to the School each semester to discuss their ideas. Please direct questions regarding these talks to David Nemer (david.nemer [at], Assistant Professor of Information Communication Technology at the University of Kentucky's School of Information Science. 

To learn more about Professor Toombs' publications, professional service, and research activities, please visit: