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Genevieve Bell

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Genevieve Bell

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Alma mater
Bryn Mawr College Stanford University

Divining a Digital Future: Mess and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing, Data: Now Bigger and Better!

Stanford University, Bryn Mawr College

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Genevieve Bell is an Australian anthropologist best known for her work at the intersection of cultural practice and technology development. Bell is currently a Professor at the Australian National University and a Senior Fellow at Intel, where she was formerly a Vice President directing the company's Corporate Sensing & Insights group. She is widely published, and holds 13 patents.


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Early life

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Daughter of renowned Australian anthropologist, Diane Bell, Genevieve Bell was born in Sydney and raised in a range of Australian communities, including Melbourne, Canberra, and in several Aboriginal Communities in the Northern Territory. Bell attended university in the United States, where she graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1990 with a bachelor's degree in anthropology. Bell went on to attend Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, for graduate studies. In 1993, she earned her master's degree from Stanford, followed by a Doctorate in 1998, both in Anthropology. Her doctoral research focused on the Carlisle Indian Industrial School which operated in rural Pennsylvania in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


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From 1996-1998, Bell taught anthropology and Native American Studies at Stanford University, in both the Department of Anthropology and Department of Anthropological Sciences, as well as in the Continuing Studies program.

She was recruited from her faculty position by Intel Corporation in 1998 to help build out their nascent social-science research competency in the advanced research and development labs. She was based at one of the company's campuses in Hillsboro, Oregon, where she worked as a cultural anthropologist studying how different cultures around the globe used technology. She and her colleagues helped re-orient Intel to a more market-inspired and experience-driven approach and she is widely credited with establishing User Experience as a recognized competency at Intel.

She started Intel’s first User Experience Group in 2005, as part of Intel’s Digital Home Group. The company named her an Intel Fellow, their highest technical rank, in November 2008 for her work in the Digital Home Group. She rejoined the advanced research and development labs in 2010, when Intel made her the director of their newly forming User Experience Research group. This group was Intel’s first fully integrated user experience research and development group; they worked on questions of big data, smart transportation, next generation image technology and ideas about fear and wonder. After steering that group to a range of successes inside and outside the company, she was made a Vice President in 2014 and Senior Fellow in 2016.

Bell’s impact has been recognized repeatedly outside Intel. In 2010, she was named one of the top 25 women in technology to watch by AlwaysOn and as one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company. In 2012, Bell was inducted to the Women In Technology International Hall of Fame. and in 2013, she was named Anita Borg’s Women of Vision in Leadership. In 2014, she was included in Elle Magazine’s first list of influential women in technology and also included in a new exhibit at London’s Design Museum profiling 25 women from around the world.

Her first book, Divining a Digital Future: Mess and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing, written in collaboration with Paul Dourish, is an exploration of the social and cultural aspects of ubiquitous computing, with a particular focus on the disciplinary and methodological issues that have shaped the ubiquitous computing research agenda. The book was published by MIT Press in 2011.

Bell was also a Thinker in Residence for South Australia from 2008-2010. She had a visiting appointment to help guide government policy surrounding new national broadband initiative. Bell conducted ethnographic research and developed new innovative research methods to identify barriers to adoption and drivers around broadband uptake. Her final report, “Getting Connected, staying connected: exploring the role of new technology in Australian society” is available online.

In 2017, Bell was appointed as a Professor at the Australian National University College of Engineering and Computer Science, where she is focusing on "exploring how to bring together data science, design thinking and ethnography to drive new approaches in engineering; and ... exploring the questions of what it means to be human in a data-driven economy and world".


Genevieve Bell Wikipedia