I’m Molly Wright Steenson, and I’m a design, architecture, and media scholar. I am an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Design, where I also lead the Doctor of Design program. I teach courses in design studies and history, service design, and research methods, to undergrads, master’s and PhD students.
My book Architecting Interactivity will be published by MIT Press in Fall 2017. It is an architectural history of digital design and a digital history of architecture. And yes—I’m deliberately using the term “architecting” because it’s how many digital designers refer to what they do, and it rubs architects the wrong way. The book explores the productive tension between the two.
Previously, I was an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication from 2013–15. I was also a professor at the groundbreaking Interaction Design Institute Ivrea in Italy for two school years, from 2003–04, where I ran the Connected Communities research group, and an adjunct faculty member at Art Center College of Design in the Media Design Practices master’s program from 2010–12.
I hold a PhD in architecture (2014) from Princeton University School of Architecture, where I wrote a dissertation titled “Architectures of Information: Christopher Alexander, Cedric Price, Nicholas Negroponte & MIT’s Architecture Machine Group” (two-volume download). I also hold a Master’s of Environmental Design from the Yale School of Architecture.
Prior to returning to academia, I worked in many capacities as a designer, design researcher, strategist and geek since 1994. I continue to study how technology and interactivity fit into our contemporary cities and lives. This interest has sent me to India to study mobile phones, to China to study social networking sites, and to the 1960s to study the effect of artificial intelligence on architectural systems and interactivity.
I speak frequently at conferences and universities about architecture, design, technology, history and digital media.
As for the name of this site, Girlwonder is my long-standing digital home. My site has been online in some form or another since 1995 and as Girlwonder.com since 1997—its name is a vestige from my dotcom career in the 1990s and the pop culture feminist webzine I ran until 1999. It’s been with me so long at this point, it’s a part of me. You’ll also find the archives of my blog from 2005 onward.