Nassim Parvin

Assistant Professor

Member Of:
  • School of Literature, Media, and Communication
  • Center for Urban Innovation
  • Digital Integrative Liberal Arts Center
Email Address:
Office Phone:
Office Location:
TSRB 320
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Dr. Parvin (JafariNaimi) is an Assistant Professor of Digital Media in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Tech, where she also directs the Design and Social Interaction Studio. Parvin’s research explores the ethical and political dimensions of design and technology, especially as related to values of democratic participation and social justice. Integrating methods of humanistic scholarship and design-based inquiry, her research answers pressing questions about the influence of digital technologies on the future of social and collective interactions. Her papers have appeared in premier publication venues in design studies, science and technology studies, and human-computer interaction. She is an award-winning educator and serves on the editorial board of the journal of Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience. Dr. Parvin received her PhD in Design from Carnegie Mellon University. She holds an MS in Information Design and Technology from Georgia Tech and a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Tehran.

  • PhD, Carnegie Mellon University
  • MS, Georgia Tech
Research Fields:
  • Digital Media
  • Media Studies
  • Science and Technology Studies
  • Inequality and Social Justice
  • Community engagement
  • Digital and Mixed Media
  • Philosophy
  • Science and Technology
  • LCC-3206: Communication & Culture
  • LCC-3710: Prin-Interaction Design
  • LCC-6311: Visual Culture & Design
  • LCC-6340: Mixed Reality Exp Design
  • LCC-6650: Project Studio
  • LMC-3705: Prin Information Design
  • LMC-3710: Prin Interaction Design
  • LMC-3833: Special Topics in STAC
  • LMC-4102: Senior Thesis
  • LMC-6311: Visual Culture and Desi
  • LMC-6318: Experimental Media
  • LMC-6399: Discovery & Invention
  • LMC-6650: Project Studio
  • LMC-6748: Social Justice & Design
  • LMC-6800: DM MS Project Course
  • LMC-8001: Digital Media Studies
  • LMC-8801: Special Topics
Selected Publications

Journal Articles

  • Our Bodies in the Trolley’s Path, or Why Self-driving Cars Must *Not* Be Programmed to Kill
       In: Science, Technology, & Human Values [Peer Reviewed]

    July 2017

    The discourse around self-driving cars has been dominated by an emphasis on their potential to reduce the number of accidents. At the same time, proponents acknowledge that self-driving cars would inevitably be involved in fatal accidents where moral algorithms would decide the fate of those involved. This is a necessary trade-off, proponents suggest, in order to reap the benefits of this new technology. In this article, I engage this argument, demonstrating how an undue optimism and enthusiasm about this technology is obscuring our ability to see what is at stake and explaining how moving beyond the dominant utilitarian framings around this technology opens up a space for both ethical inquiry and innovative design. I suggest that a genuine caring concern for the many lives lost in car accidents now and in the future—a concern that transcends false binary trade-offs and that recognizes the systemic biases and power structures that make certain groups more vulnerable than others—could serve as a starting point to rethink mobility, as it connects to the design of our cities, the well-being of our communities, and the future of our planet.

  • MRx as a Participatory Platform
       In: Digital Creativity [Peer Reviewed]

    October 2015

    Facilitating and supporting various modes of social interaction has been part of Mixed Reality (MR) design experiments and discourse over the past twenty years. But what vision of social interaction is sought and advanced through Mixed Reality environments? In this paper, I identify two dominant ways that social interaction is envisioned in MR designs, broadly construed as material and political, and illustrated through a series of examples. I further draw on them to highlight the potentials, boundaries, and limitations of each with regards to the kinds of social interactions that are sought and cultivated through the integration of digital media on physical space. I suggest that as MR becomes mainstream, it is important to go beyond these visions to consider whether and how MR environments might connect with the economic, social, and cultural specificity of local sites to meaningfully serve the always evolving social needs and purposes of their communities.

  • Values as hypotheses: design, inquiry, and the service of values
       In: Design Issues [Peer Reviewed]

    October 2015

    Editors’ Summary: "For all designers, no matter what methods or processes they use, values are essential. Nassim JafariNaimi, Lisa Nathan, and Ian Hargraves take on this crucial topic in their article “Values as Hypotheses: Design, Inquiry, and the Service of Values.” They refute the separation of values and action, arguing instead that values are to be discovered and affirmed within action. Following philosopher John Dewey’s ideas, the authors posit that values are hypothetical until they are confirmed through design actions. They refute the belief that moral values are either unchangeable truths or “local expressions of individual and group preferences,” favoring instead a philosophy of plurality that lets values emerge from pragmatic encounters with situations. Their approach is an extremely helpful response to the sticky question of whether values that are pre-ordained and fixed can be integrated into design practice.”


  • Collective Intelligence or Groupthink? Engaging Participation Patterns in World without Oil
       In: Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work [Peer Reviewed]

    February 2015

    © 2015 ACM.This article presents an analysis of participation patterns in an Alternate Reality Game, World Without Oil. This game aims to bring people together in an online environment to reflect on how an oil crisis might affect their lives and communities as a way to both counter such a crisis and to build collective intelligence about responding to it. We present a series of participation profiles based on a quantitative analysis of 1554 contributions to the game narrative made by 322 players. We further qualitatively analyze a sample of these contributions. We outline the dominant themes, the majority of which engage the global oil crisis for its effects on commute options and present micro-sustainability solutions in response. We further draw on the quantitative and qualitative analysis of this space to discuss how the design of the game, specifically its framing of the problem, feedback mechanism, and absence of subject-matter expertise, counter its aim of generating collective intelligence, making it conducive to groupthink.