I’m Molly Wright Steenson, and I’m a designer, writer, speaker, and professor whose work focuses on the intersection of design, architecture, and artificial intelligence. I’m the author of the forthcoming book Architectural Intelligence: How Designers, Tinkerers, and Architects Created the Digital Landscape (MIT Press, Fall 2017). I’m a UX pioneer who has worked with the web since its earliest days, and an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Design. I speak and keynote internationally about design and technology and hold a PhD in architecture from Princeton University.
My book Architectural Intelligence will be published by the MIT Press in Fall 2017. It is an architectural history of digital design and a digital history of architecture that examines architecture’s interactions with computation, cybernetics, and artificial intelligence, 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.
At Carnegie Mellon, I am a design professor. I lead the Doctor of Design program, a distance-based doctorate, and teach courses in design studies and history, service design, and research methods to undergraduates, master’s and doctoral students.
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.