BioSan Jose State University (San Jose, CA)San Diego State University (San Diego, CA)University of Washington (Seattle, WA)Queen's University (Kingston, Ontario, Canada)
Karina researches how people think about "good work" in the digital age. Trained as a sociologist, they use qualitative methods -- such as ethnography, interviews, and discourse/content analysis -- to get at how people critique technology and labor, and how they try to fix it. They are currently writing a book for MIT Press that explores what happens when high-status tech workers in Silicon Valley become disillusioned with their jobs. The manuscript follows a group of engineers and computer scientists who volunteer in their spare time to build technologies for municipal governments as they try to simultaneously design technologies that increase civic participation while also working through their disappointment with the tech industry. Many workers find themselves in a bind: they want to feel passionate about their jobs in Silicon Valley, but the industry continuously disappoints them; they want to build things that will help people, but they are pressured to make their employer as much money as possible. Tech workers' frustration with their situation leads them to get involved in Tech for Good initiatives as a way to salve their discontentment. But this has consequences for the kinds of technologies Tech for Good initiatives create: often, they end up building products nobody uses, rather than helping the communities the volunteers wanted to assist in the first place. In all, the book tells a complicated story about passionate labor and the limits of Tech for Good projects.
Karina grew up in Silicon Valley as the child of a tech contractor. Their experiences living in the underbelly of Silicon Valley, witnessing the emotional and psychological tolls passionate work can exact of employees, have deeply influenced their research and teaching interests. They are also an organizer with the Labor Tech Research Network, a 501(c)3 nonprofit network of over 450 members concerned with issues relating to labor and technology. The organization brings together academics, researchers, practitioners, journalists, and labor organizers to tackle labor and technology issues from an anti-racist, feminist, and transnational perspective.