Presentation by Jesse Shapins and Violet Whitney from Sidewalk Labs.
Jesse Shapins is Director of Design at Sidewalk Labs, where he leads the company’s human-centered design processes and helps teams explore ways to improve city life through new digital products. For over a decade, Jesse has been a leading designer and entrepreneur at the intersection of media, technology, and place. In 2004, before smartphones, Jesse invented Yellow Arrow, one of the first platforms to globally connect physical locations, digital media and communities. He is also co-founder of Mapping Main Street, a documentary arts project that tells the stories of the over 10,466 streets named Main Street across the United States and Brooklyn’s UnionDocs, a leading example of a documentary arts center that deeply engages with its surrounding community. Before joining Sidewalk, Jesse was Director of Product at BuzzFeed, where he worked closely with journalists, entertainers, and tech teams to push the boundaries of content and technology. Jesse holds a BA in Urban Studies from Columbia University and a PhD in Urbanism and Critical Media Practice from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he also served on the architecture faculty, teaching courses such as The Mixed-Reality City and Media Archaeology of Place.
Violet Whitney is a designer at Sidewalk Labs and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia GSAPP. She is a founding member of A-Frame, an activist organization that advocates for collaborative and equitable approaches to architectural practice. Her research focuses on how technology influences design process and urban experience. Her recent work analyzes the ways by which recommendation systems are algorithmically segregating cities and generating spatialized filter bubbles and the potential for data-driven techniques like location awareness and natural language processing to reveal unseen patterns in everyday social media, video, and images.