Karina Rider received their PhD from Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, in 2021. For the past two years, they have been a Postdoctoral Researcher with the Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research, New England. Karina’s research uses qualitative methods to explore struggles for justice in datafied societies, especially as they relate to labor, culture, and race.
Karina is currently writing a book for MIT Press’ Labor and Technology Series tentatively titled Volunteering the Valley: Designing for the Common Good in the San Francisco Bay Area. The book follows a group of civic technologists in the Bay Area as they try to design digital technologies for the common good. Drawing on participant observation and interviews with civic tech volunteers, paid staff with civic tech nonprofits, and municipal bureaucrats, the book explores how technologists in these kinds of Tech for Good initiatives not only try to embed political values into digital technologies, but simultaneously grapple with their disillusionment with their careers in the high-tech industry and try to recapture the initial excitement, pride, and sense they are ‘saving the world’ that they felt when they first began in tech. However, in doing so, volunteers end up building technologies that are never adopted by community partners and that fail to address residents’ most pressing concerns. Drawing these processes out in all their contradictory detail, the book raises questions about the conditions under which high-tech labor can contribute to the common good.
Karina is also conducting an ethnography of grassroots opposition to, and support of, Google’s proposed mega-campus in the San José Diridon Station area. The project explores how grassroots organizations contest high-tech firms’ responsibility for providing social services such as housing, transportation, and job training, as well as Google’s role as steward for San Jose’s environment and culture.