Yasmine Kotturi

Yasmine Kotturi


Carnegie Mellon University

human-computer interaction, future of work, community-based participatory design

Yasmine Kotturi is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University, advised by Jeffrey Bigham. Yasmine earned her Ph.D. in Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University, where she was advised by Chinmay Kulkarni. She has worked at Microsoft Research Asia, and she has led research collaborations with Etsy and Instagram. Her research is currently supported by the National Science Foundation's Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier. Learn more about her work at: https://cs.cmu.edu/~ykotturi

Community Oriented Approaches to Building Peer Support Systems in Work

Independent workers---such as gig workers, online freelancers, or micro-entrepreneurs---take on heightened uncertainty in pursuit of flexible working arrangements. While workers may be independent from organizations' directive control, a decade of ethnographic studies have highlighted how independent workers---who are digitally distributed in space and time---are in fact interdependent on each other for social, emotional, and material support. To augment workers' quests for peer support, scholars and practitioners have designed dozens of intricate and innovative sociotechnical systems which foster large-scale, online peer support networks. Yet, solely sociotechnical approaches to peer support systems---which often aim for universal user adoption---have failed to create systems which provide inclusive support for this rapidly growing and diverse workforce. Such approaches often overlook existing peer networks which are entirely offline, and the resulting systems are rarely accessible, or desirable, to workers with limited trust in technology or limited technology literacy.

In my talk, I articulate a method to co-design community-based peer support systems for work. This method follows a participatory action protocol to work with community partners who already foster existing networks of peer workers to understand if technological interventions can provide supplemental support. In the case that community partners decide to explore technological supplements for peer support, this method follows a co-design software protocol to build a peer support system which builds on existing, offline networks. This method deprioritizes technological contributions, and therefore outcomes of this method include not just a system, but also educational materials and in-person workshops. I illustrate this method across two multi-year community partnerships with local hubs for independent workers in Pittsburgh, PA.