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Alumnae
Brenda Matthis

 


Former Member of Blinktank (previously known as Newsreel)

Brenda Matthis
bgm@attbi.com

I am a software design pathologist, examining software for the values and beliefs suggested to users they impart, and unfair outcomes. These values and beliefs are referred to as the voice of the authors of the software: designers and developers.

Matthis Brothers Software Pathology

Software pathology is the examination of software program content, interfaces, and logic for their affect on the users. The primary concern is for the people who use the software. The greater part of our research involves software design that results in unfair outcomes for its users. We customarily examine software programs in the design phrase so that its developers can avoid or overcome such outcomes before the software is given to the public. Often we are asked to examine software after its implementation - after problems are discovered.

The lion's share of our work involves researching on the use of educational software in K-12 classrooms. We have learned that children absorb the values through the interfaces and logic "voice" of the software designers and developers, as well as the content, which affects their learning - with both positive and negative results. These effects are found when software is used by adults as well.

For a guide to researchers and publications on these topics, e-mail your request to our client research person: crp@matthisbrothers.com

About Matthis Brothers - I cut my entrepreneurial teeth working for my father at Matthis Brothers, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In honor of him, and what he has taught me, my firm assumed the name of his.

What I have learned from my experience as a software designer/developer and researcher is that all media criticisms are patently applicable to digital media. Protests to the suggestion of authorial voices in software and web sites, for the idea that software authors are not different from any other media authors, and that these authors/designers/developers are accountable for the effects of their values on people, were so vigorous that I was compelled to look deeper. This led to my doctoral research, my work as a software design pathologist, my activism regarding software voice, and my renewed passion for media literacy. There are only a handful of researchers in the world looking at design values and outcomes - we are the icebreaker ships in this work.

From Software to Film to Software Activism

Finding my path to software design pathology is the result of my passion in filmmaking, editing, and film literacy, and 20 years in software design and development. My passion for film has taken me to Pan-African Film Festivals in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and around the world; founding the BenArena Film Society; providing editing, camera work, and production support for many kinds of film and video projects; attending La Biennale di Venenzia: "Les Aesthetics, More Ethics;" and presenting the "How to Watch Film and Television For Your Own Protection™" literacy workshop to children and teenagers. The movie theater, anywhere, remains my favorite place in the world. As a software specialist, I've done almost everything except engineering and hardware design.

Brenda and Blinktank (Formerly Newsreel)

There is an embrace between Matthis Brothers and Newsreel (now Blinktank), as we exchange media literacy information and ideas, and present tools for the world to understand the technology that envelops us. We encourage you to join us in our latest venture: a Video Games Workshop for Teachers and Parents.

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