Business Improvement Districts

The current study employs novel large-scale datasets and methodological advances in geographic information systems to study the interdependence of people, place, and law. The study explores law’s impact on the securitization, resilience, and place-making of quasi-public spaces (e.g., sidewalks) through unique public-private legal entities, Business Improvement Districts (BIDS). The study first collected a census of BIDs throughout Southern California. The BID census was integrated with large-scale geographic datasets, such as business databases, property values databases, open city datasets, Google Street View imagery, & Twitter ambient population to study the regulation of quasi-public spaces across space and time. The impact of BIDs on securitization, resilience, and place-making of space are compared and contrasted to matched clusters of non-BID business. In addition to advancing the field of legal geography with novel methodology, the study demonstrates the vital role technology plays in organizing and communicating the values of community stakeholders.

Gaming Memoryscapes: Private Servers, Piracy, and Nostalgia

In light of recent changes to the massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft (WoW), many players are choosing to connect to “private servers” that run older versions of the game. While these servers are typically located in non-US sites and exist outside of corporate data centers, the game code is still corporate property, constrained by intellectual property laws and End User License Agreements. WoW’s development company has begun to make use of rhetorical tactics to demonize private servers (e.g., referring to them as “pirate” servers), and have threatened users and maintainers with legal action. With nostalgia and obsolescence as driving forces and legal frameworks as looming threats, what values and ideologies emerge from everyday player discourse and practices on private servers? How might private servers reshape understandings of relations between intellectual property and geopolitical boundaries?

Human Rights Stories As Technology For Social Change

International human rights activism relies heavily on storytelling. New digital technologies and “image politics” transform how advocacy groups and NGOs make their claims, with many dispersing stories via social media, photography and video. These stories are often utilized as a form of technology for social change in and of themselves, with innate transformative and political potential, posing as democratic discourses of truth and “evidence” of what is real. And yet, storytelling for human rights is not without controversy. Are stories truly democratic? Who are human rights stories for? Few studies focused on storytelling for social change bring together literatures on international human rights in addition to the social construction of the narrative form, or consider how rights stories are crafted by international advocacy groups. Drawing on interview data and actual stories disseminated online, I analyze how and why international human rights stories are produced, and how advocates reconcile ethical and practical challenges in telling them.

Gig Economy

Noopur’s project investigates reputation measures (such as 5-star ratings, thumbs, feedback and work profiles) that mediate Gig Economy transactions in platforms such as Uber, Airbnb and TaskRabbit. It looks at the socio-legal materialities of gig-work reputation, how ratings are assembled and, how they shape transactions and interactions in-turn. Further, this project proposes near-future and speculative design recommendations to rework reputation artefacts in order to better support gig workers’ information needs and career decisions, especially in non-Western contexts.

U.S.-Led Technological Warfare

As a Technology, Law & Society Graduate fellow, my research seeks to gain insight by looking to the natural law tradition, humanism, and contemporary practices of U.S.-led technological warfare, we can begin ask the right questions about how international law and ethics must evolve with technological innovation. From collateral damage estimation software as the exercise of ethical due care in war, to advanced algorithms determining which patterns of life constitute a “legitimate target” in drone strikes, how has technology come to replace difficult ethical decision-making in warfare? What answers might early international law thinkers and their humanist critics have to offer the complex legal and ethical dilemmas of contemporary techno-warfare? These guiding questions that build on my previous work, explore the underpinnings of international law to see how an increasingly computerized warfare is challenging some of these foundational assumptions, upon which we built our laws and ethics of war.