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University of Michigan School of Information


Cindy Lin

Cindy Lin



I am currently a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Michigan, School of Information, advised by Dr.  Silvia Lindtner. I am also a graduate certificate student in the Science, Technology, and Society Program and an ESIP Community Fellow in the Machine Learning Cluster.  My research and teaching interests are located at the intersection of human computer interaction (HCI), feminist and postcolonial science and technology studies (STS), critical data studies (e.g. AI fairness), and environmental justice.

My research focuses on the visions, promises, and instruments of data science and AI that are applied to transform environmental sciences and sustainability. I have studied the private-public partnerships between American IT corporations like IBM and environmental state scientists and engineers in Indonesia, evidencing how the story of AI and data science as both inevitable and promising for environmental justice and climate change legitimizes various forms of racialized exploitation.

My commitment to study cultures and politics of AI and data-driven solutions in the context of postcolonial development has resulted in 12 peer-reviewed articles in top social science and computing journals and conferences such as ACM CHI, PD, DIS, and Social Text, including a co-authored book, Technoprecarious (Goldsmiths Press 2020).

Dissertation title

Coding Climate Inequality: An Ethnography of Data Control, Efficiency, and Environmental Justice in Postcolonial Indonesia

Fields of interest

Social Informatics
Critical Data Studies
Environmental Studies
Feminist and Postcolonial Theory


Bachelor of Arts, National University of Singapore, 2015
Ph.D. in Information, University of Michigan, 2021

Selected Publications


1. Fisher, Anna Watkins, Silvia Lindtner, Ivan Chaar-Lopez, Cengiz Salman, McKenzie Wark, Kalindi Vora, Jackie Wang, Cass Adair, Lisa Nakamura, Cindy Lin, with Meryem Kamil (Precarity Lab). Forthcoming October 2020. Technoprecarious. Goldsmiths Press/The MIT Press. Equal Authorship.

Peer Reviewed Conference Proceedings

2. Lin, Cindy and Silvia Lindtner. (Under Review) “Techniques of Use: Confronting value systems of productivity, progress, and usefulness in computing and design.” In Proceedings of the ACM Human Factors in Computing Systems Conference (CHI '21).

3. Lin, Cindy, Silvia Lindtner, and Stefanie Wuschitz. “Hacking Difference in Indonesia: The Ambivalences of Designing for Alternative Futures.” In Proceedings of the ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference (DIS '19), San Diego, CA. [25% acceptance rate], Recognition for Contribution to Diversity and Inclusion.

4. Lin, Cindy, and Silvia Lindtner. "Legitimacy, boundary objects & participation in transnational DIY biology." In Proceedings of the ACM Participatory Design Conference (PDC ’16), Aarhus, Denmark. [26% acceptance rate]

5. Dolejšová, Markéta, and Cindy Lin. "Squat & Grow: Designing Smart Human-Food Interactions in Singapore." In Proceedings of the SEACHI 2016 on Smart Cities for Better Living with HCI and UX, 24-27.

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

6. Nakamura, Lisa, Irina Aristarkhova, Iván Chaa López, Anna Watkins Fisher, Meryem Kamil, Cindy Lin, Silvia Lindtner and Tung-hui Hu (Precarity Lab). Digital Precarity Manifesto. In Social Text 37 no. 4 (2019).

7. Avle, Seyram, Cindy Lin, Jean Hardy and Silvia Lindtner. “Scaling Techno-Optimistic Visions.” In Engaging Science, Technology and Society 6 (2020): 237-254.

8. Lindtner, Silvia, and Cindy Lin. "Making and its promises." CoDesign 13, no. 2 (2017): 70-82.

9. Bardzell, Jeffrey, Shaowen Bardzell, Cindy Lin, Silvia Lindtner, and Austin Toombs. "HCI’s Making Agendas." Foundations and Trends® in Human–Computer Interaction (TOCHI) 11, no. 3 (2017): 126-200.

10. Lin, Cindy, and Andrew Moon. "Negotiating Time: Design as Historical Practice." PORTAL Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies 13, no. 2 (2016).

Book Chapters

11. Lin, Cindy. How Forest Became Data: The Remaking of Ground Truth. The Nature of Data: Infrastructures, Environments, Politics, Ed. Jenny E. Goldstein and Eric Nost, University of Nebraska Press. Forthcoming 2021.

12. Pena, Mary, Cindy Lin, Nina Jackson Levin, Prash Naidu, Miranda Garcia, Roxana Maria Aras, Salman Hussain, Cintia Huitzil, Janaki Phillips. ‘Making sensory ethnography and sensorial formats in re-view’, entanglements, 1(2):102-107.

Lightly Peer Reviewed Articles

13. Lin, Cindy. “How to Make a Forest.” e-flux architecture, April 2020. [link]

14. Lin, Cindy. Algorithmic Vision to Notice Differently: Entrusting Software to Protect Trees and Gun Farmers. In Proceedings of DIS ’19: Contesting Borders and Intersections, ACM, New York, NY, USA. [link]

15. Lin, Cindy. elderly women make!: increasing diversity in maker culture. 2016 ACM Grace Hopper 2016 Student Research Competition (SRC). 2016. Houston, Texas