Hi, I'm Johanna Brewer.
Media Platform Researcher
I am a designer, developer, ethnographer & entrepreneur. My research explores how marginalized communities are challenging surveillance capitalism and my creative practice focuses on increasing inclusion on media platforms.

You can reach me via email, Twitter or LinkedIn.
A Brief Bio
I am a Research Associate at MIT & AnyKey, an organization that advocates for diversity and inclusion in competitive gaming, and also co-founder of Neta Snook, a research & design studio that creates new media and technology for a diverse society.

Previously, I led a series of startups including frestyl, a live music discovery platform, as well as Rhomby, a presence-awareness system for smart homes. I've held design research positions at WBUR, Intel, Swiss National Supercomputer, Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston University, and I received a PhD in Information & Computer Science from UC Irvine for my work on the aesthetics of urban mobility.

Besides working for fun, I make and collect music, hack and repair electronics, walk long distances, travel the world on public transport, juggle kendama, design jewelry, do yoga, swim, tend my garden and cook lots of vegetarian food.
Portfolio Highlights
Below are some of the more interesting projects I've had a hand in creating. For a more comprehensive view, please open my design portfolio, consult my curriculum vitae, peruse my publications, or check out my community activities.

You will note that my research spans a broad range of domains including: esports, live streaming, nutritional literacy, sustainable technology, public radio, home automation, live music discovery, public transportation and interactive toys. So far, I've never met a computer I couldn't get along with :]
AnyKey's GLHF Pledge
Fostering Inclusion in Competitive Gaming
Good Luck, Have Fun is a promise to make a difference as a positive and inclusive citizen in gaming. More than 300,000 gamers have already signed the code of conduct and equipped AnyKey's global chat badge on Twitch.

To ensure that the AnyKey symbol maintains integrity as a sign of respect and inclusion, a community-based moderation system was launched in 2019. It allows anyone to file a report if they see someone abusing the badge, giving folks a direct role in enforcing the values of the pledge.

Take the pledge
Inclusive Streamers
Marginal Ethnography in Online Gaming
Gaming is a historically toxic environment for women, people of color, disabled and LGBTQ+ folks. But on Twitch, minority streamers and their allies are creating safe spaces for their communities and keeping the trolls at bay.

Inspired by their achievements, this in-depth study was launched in 2018 to learn more about the inclusive streamers behind this growing movement.

View slides from MiT talk
The Food Rainbow
Nutritional Visualization for Public Health
As an unbiased and kid-friendly way to reveal the nutritious values of any food, this visualization uses colors to represent the six macronutrients that make up everything we eat. The rainbows simplify the USDA guidelines and allow for at-a-glance comparison of day-to-day dietary choices.

Initiated in 2016 as a response to the current health crisis, this ongoing project is focused on building a grassroots movement to promote nutritional literacy using The Food Rainbow as a common framework. Several tools, including an app to translate nutrition labels, have already been released.

Explore the online tools
Sustainability Champions
Experimental Ethnography in Media Production
Taking an experimental approach to creating meaningful marketing content for a growing sustainability tech startup, this project involved filming a series of ethnographic interviews on location and in high definition.

Creating a collection of short videos accompanied by in-depth journalistic articles ensured that the authentic insights captured on camera would be enlightening for employees and potential customers alike.

Watch the web series
WBUR Let's Talk Audience Survey
Participatory Ethnography in Public Radio
As the most extensive study of WBUR's audience to date, this research project was especially notable because of its large-scale participatory nature. Designed and analyzed by a team of 36 members from the station's newsroom in 2017, the Let's Talk Audience Survey received responses from nearly 1% of listeners.

Results were published internally as a 160-page Opportunity Report book whose purpose was to give all members of the NPR station's staff a shared, actionable understanding of their audience's identities, opinions and values.

Download the Opportunity Report
Dynamic Growth Dashboard
Data Science for Organizational Management
The development of a customizable internal analytics dashboard was the culmination of a participatory design effort to identify, share and compare key organizational metrics at WBUR.

This multi-user KPI dashboard capable of tracking virtually any type of metric was designed following an ethnographic study of organizational data gathering practices. After coaching senior managers to incorporate measurement and feedback cycles into weekly meetings, this cloud-based software was developed to share this practice across public media.

Read an article about the dashboard
Presence Awareness for Smart Homes
Designed as an enhancement for home automation ecosystems, Rhomby is a toolkit for keeping tabs on the locations of mobile devices. With a pocket-sized server, a single Bluetooth iBeacon for each room and a lightweight mobile app, Rhomby enables programmers to create responsive, context-aware controls based on where people are in the house.

Developers can deploy this real-time indoor location tracking and geofencing system in less than an hour, allowing them to quickly create seamless, hands-free experiences for people as they move between rooms or leave home. Unlike other smart devices, Rhomby is completely self-contained and private. No data ever leaves the home or gets transmitted online.

Learn more about Rhomby
Live Music Discovery & Promotion
Launched in Rome in 2010, frestyl was once the most comprehensive web service for concert discovery in Italy. After relocating to Berlin in 2012, frestyl relaunched as a B2B2C service that directly connected live music event organizers with fans to increase attendance at shows.

frestyl's mobile application was featured by Apple as Best New App in Germany thanks to a custom recommendation algorithm providing weekly personalized concert suggestions, as well as a unique built-in music player allowing users to stream playlists for upcoming gigs nearby.

Watch an interview with the founders
Aesthetic Journeys
Ethnography and Design for Public Transportation
My PhD thesis reframed mobility for ubiquitous computing by examining the aesthetic aspects of urban movement. By conducting a series of studies on public transportation in Portland (OR), London & Paris, I developed both new ethnographic techniques, like object shadowing, as well as a set of design principles for urban mobility.

This Intel-funded research led to the creation of undersound, a conceptual mobile music sharing system integrated into the London Underground, and SeeShell, a prototype RFID ticket card holder with an permanent ink display that emerged over time based on a rider's journeys.

Download my PhD dissertation
Interactive Toys for Office Collaboration
The world's first hybrid tangible interface and an ambient display, Nimio was a set of interactive office toys designed for the core administrators of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2).

These hand-held, translucent silicone toys were given out as individual playthings, but wirelessly networked via RF to act as input-output devices for a collective visualization of distributed activity. With embedded sensors and internal LEDs, action around one Nimio caused the others to glow in distinctive patterns and colors that became uniquely identifiable by the group using them.

Watch a video about Nimio
F77 Interface to CP2K
Supercomputing Interface for Molecular Simulation
CP2K, often referred to as the Swiss Army knife of molecular simulation, is a program used to generate models of solid state, liquid, molecular and biological systems.

As a research assistant at the Swiss National Supercomputer (CSCS), I aided in the implementation of a modernized Python and C-based interface to this historic Fortran framework.

Learn more about CP2K
4D Tumor Tracking
Computer Vision in Radiation Oncology
While pursuing my Master's degree I implemented a real-time 4D tumor tracking and modeling system which used fluoroscopic imaging for advanced computer-assisted radiation therapy.

As a research assistant for the Massachusetts General Hospital's Integrated Radiotherapy Imaging System (IRIS) Project, my work helped improve the efficacy of beam-guided and respiratory-gated radiation therapy.

Download my Master's thesis