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.


March 2022: It has been nearly a year since we’ve done updates! Some highlights:

Majdah successfully defended her dissertation, “The Photo-Making Practices of a Subculture: Moving the Inclusiveness Agenda Forward in HCI,” and is now faculty in the College of Computer and Information Sciences at King Saud University.

Rosemary and Stephen have passed their topic proposals.

An article we’re very excited to have out - a ToCHI paper by Sam, David, and Norman on the “Speech-like Techno-Masculinity” of dot-com era web design books.

EunJeong has started a new position as faculty at Syracuse University.

Congrats Dr. Alshehri, Rosemary, Stephen, Sam, and Dr. Cheon!

We said goodbye to Kaitlyn Timm, now a Social Worker with the Marion County Superior Court, Young Hwan Na, now an HCI/D masters student at Indiana University, and Lucas Kempe-Cook, now a technical trainer at Kite Pharma. Best wishes on your next journey!

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.