The Authentic User Experience Lab (AUX Lab) is part of the Baskin School of Engineering at UC Santa Cruz. We integrate empirical and humanistic methods to do research with subcultures. We publish in human-computer interaction (HCI) and other related venues (e.g., CHI, DIS, CSCW, ECSCW, ICWSM). Take a look at our projects and publications.

By subverting the now, subcultures become harbingers for the future practices and values of mainstream culture. Contemporary trends (e.g., in art) and movements (e.g., feminism) can be traced back to subcultures. Lying on the fringes of society, subcultures creatively reinforce and communicate their distinctive traditions—–their authenticity—in a sensor-rich and socially-networked society.

We characterize this relationship of technology with subcultures, design systems to support their notion of authenticity, and fashion new frameworks and methods to inform designs that help people strive for meaningful lives. We subscribe to the idea that society as a whole can learn a great deal about how to live from subcultures, the delightful, diverse microcosms they are.

We are always looking for new collaborators. If you are interested in doing research with us, please contact Professor Norman Makoto Su.


April 2021: It has been a difficult time for everyone, but there is good news! Congratulations to Majdah for defending her topic proposal and Stephen for passing his quals! Belated congrats also to Rosemary for passing her quals last semester! We see great things ahead for all of them. Some recent work:

A CSCW paper by EunJeong and Norman on “Jarvis,” a RtD artifact for disseminating values for zero-waste practitioners.

A CHI paper by Sam, Bardia, David, and Norman describing the homogeneity of web design and its causes.

A trio of “affective” works co-authored by Norman: a book chapter on HCI and personal experiences of rurality, a CSCW paper on techlash with Amanda Lazar and Lilly Irani, and a CVPR paper on computer vision practitioners and researchers with David Crandall.

November 2020: With Xinru Page, Brian Smith, and Mainack Mondal, Norman has received a People’s Expectations and Experiences with Digital Privacy research award from Facebook. Drawing from film theory, we’ll produce short online videos that lead to awareness and control over user profiling.

October 2020: Norman will be heading the “human-centered AI pillar” to plan a new Artificial Intelligence Institute for Rural Health, Wellness, and Resilience, lead by David Crandall, Selma Sabanovic, Katie Siek, and David Wild.

June 2020: Congratulations to Dr. EunJeong Cheon for successfully defending her dissertation, “Making Values Explicit in the Design of Emerging Technologies.” Special thanks to her committee members: Selma Sabanovic, Erik Stolterman Bergqvist, Mark Ackerman, and Jessica Lester. EunJeong will be joining the CS faculty at Aalborg University as a tenure-track assistant professor. We wish her the best!