My research focus is understanding long-term use of technology through a lens I call “soft sustainability.” While sustainability research in HCI has mainly been on the hardware aspects of environmentally-friendly technology, my focus is on the human, or social component of sustainability. Much of extant HCI research investigates technology adoption and short-term usage, but understanding why people continue to use interact with technology over a long period of time involves different socio-psychological mechanisms. This has serious implications when designing a system intended for long-term use.
My interest in soft sustainability began 13 years ago when I designed Ewhaian.com- a social network site for my university. Despite the failures of social network sites created by universities around the world, the site I designed is still extremely active and the oldest documented success case of its kind. At the time, I had an intuition about what would contribute to sustainability of social systems, and thus spent my graduate years delving into academic research to study this area in a more systematic manner.
Now, I research the antecedents and socio-psychological effects of technology usage, with a concentration on sustainability. I have a three-prong approach for understanding what contributes to sustainability: conscious motivations, non-conscious habits, and self-identity. These three factors have different implications and interactions with technology design. I have studied these factors in many different contexts, including social media, education, games, and cultural content, and am excited about continuing work in this area.