I’m Molly Wright Steenson and I’m a designer, writer, speaker, and professor whose work focuses on the intersection and implications of design, architecture, and artificial intelligence. I’m the author of Architectural Intelligence: How Designers and Architects Created the Digital Landscape (MIT Press, 2017), which examines architecture’s interactions with computation, cybernetics, and artificial intelligence.
At Carnegie Mellon University, I’m the Senior Associate Dean for Research in the College of Fine Arts, the K&L Gates Associate Professor in Ethics and Computational Technologies & an associate professor in the School of Design (with a courtesy appointment in the School of Architecture). I teach everyone from undergrads, to master’s students, to PhD students. I teach seminars for master’s students in the issues behind design and technology, service design, studios for undergraduates, and seminars for doctoral students. I hold a PhD in architecture from Princeton University.
My book Architectural Intelligence is an architectural history of digital design and a digital history of architecture, with deep case studies on the work of Christopher Alexander, Richard Saul Wurman, Nicholas Negroponte, and Cedric Price, and the ways that their work influenced the development of contemporary digital design practices, including information architecture and interaction design. My second book Bauhaus Futures, co-edited with Laura Forlano and Mike Ananny, is a collection about what would keep the Bauhaus up at night if it were around today, and will appear in 2019. Both books are on MIT Press.
I’m an old skool web geek. Since 1994, I’ve worked in many capacities as a UX designer and strategist, design researcher, writer, and geek. I built the first news-delivering website at Reuters in 1995, managed the second most-hit page on the Internet—the Netscape Search page—in 1996, worked on some of the first web-based online communities, and co-founded a groundbreaking pop culture feminist webzine, Maxi. I was was one of the very first content strategists and user/customer experience architects, and worked on complex digital platforms at companies like Scient and Razorfish. 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.
In my academic career, I was an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication from 2013–15 and a professor at the groundbreaking Interaction Design Institute Ivrea in Italy 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.
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 that era. 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.