Austin Toombs | Visiting Researcher

Austin Toombs

My research interests centre on the impact that digital technologies have on how communities are formed and maintained. I am particularly interested in how certain kinds of relationships between individuals within a community are encouraged while others are discouraged, and how various technologies are used to implicitly enforce these distinctions. How interpersonal relationships are sanctioned (in both senses of the word) plays a vital role in the inclusivity, welcomeness, and diversity of a community.

In recent projects, I have studied maker, hacker, and DIY communities through both physical and digital ethnographies, the participatory design of hackathon-like events, and large-scale listserv communication analyses. In this work, I have focused on explicating the ways in which individuals develop identities as makers/hackers/expert-amateurs, as well as how they participate in their community. In my work on digital civics, I will be extending the methodological lenses I have developed to threads related to social care, civic engagement, and health informatics.


Making a critical playshop
Toombs AL, Ferri G, Grimme S, Gross S, Stallings MD, Bardzell J, Bardzell S, Interactions34-37
From Empathy to Care: A Feminist Care Ethics Perspective on Long-Term Researcher-Subject Relations
Toombs A, Gross S, Bardzell S, Bardzell J, Interacting with Computers45-57


The Proper Care and Feeding of Hackerspaces: Care Ethics and Cultures of Making <strong> </strong>
Toombs A, Bardzell S, Bardzell J, CHI’15: 2015 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems629-638
Flow of Competency in UX Design Practice
Gray CM, Toombs A, Gross S, CHI’15: 2015 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems3285-3294


"Now that's definitely a proper hack": Self-made Tools in Hackerspaces
Bardzell J, Bardzell S, Toombs A, CHI '14: 2014 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems473-476
Becoming Makers: Hackerspace Member Habits, Values, and Identities
Toombs A, Bardzell S, Bardzell J, Journal of Peer Production


A tribute to Mad Skill: Expert Amateur Visuality and World of Warcraft Machinima
Pace T, Toombs A, Gross S, Pattin T, Bardzell J, Bardzell S, CHI’13: Proceedings of the 2013 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems2019-2028


An experience report and analysis of Java technologies in undergraduate game programming courses
Gestwicki P, Haddad A, Toombs A, Sun F, Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges102-108
Copyright 2018 Open Lab