Hi, I'm Johanna Brewer.
Technology Design Activist
My research explores how communities creatively challenge surveillance capitalism to increase inclusion on media platforms.
A Brief Bio
I am an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Smith College and the Director of Research at AnyKey, a nonprofit advocating for inclusion in gaming and live streaming.

For my work on the aesthetics of urban mobility in the field of ubiquitous computing, I earned a PhD in Informatics from UC Irvine. I've authored numerous articles in leading human-computer interaction publications and media studies journals. And in 2023 I co-edited a volume about live streaming culture published by MIT Press titled Real Life in Real Time.

My ethnographic research explores how marginalized communities challenge surveillance capitalism and my technology design practice aims to increase inclusion on media platforms. By collaborating with grassroots groups who transform our world through new economies, forms of expression, and styles of governance, I seek to develop technologies that benefit our diverse society.

As a design activist, I founded several counterculture tech companies including frestyl for live music discovery, Rhomby for anti-surveillance smart homes, and Neta Snook for diversity-focused R&D. Beyond my startup life, I've also held research positions at MIT, Intel, WBUR, ETH Zürich, and Boston University.

Though I might be a robot, I am also certainly a mixed-race native (Pequot), non-binary, neurodivergent friendo. As a tryhard indiginerd hacktivist I'm doing my best to represent my peoples. I was a top 10 world ranked gamer in Worms 2, I can program in 40 different languages, and I always respect my elders.

Besides working for fun, I make and collect music, play video games, juggle, weave wampum, hack and repair electronics, walk long distances, travel the world on public transport, befriend animals, talk to plants, swim the oceans, and cook lots of vegetarian food.
Real Life in Real Time
Live Streaming Culture
MIT Press 2023
Though some may try to dismiss live streaming as a fleeting internet fad popular with gamers, following the shutdowns of the global pandemic, personal video broadcasting has now become a regular feature of most everyone's lives. In this volume co-editors Bo Ruberg, Amanda Cullen, Christopher Persaud, and I present a broad range of essays exploring the cultural implications of live streaming, paying special attention to how it is shifting notions of identity and power in digital spaces. The diverse set of authors included represent a variety of perspectives, including media studies, human-computer interaction, queer studies, and anthropology.

This volume extends the crucial work of games studies scholars by foregrounding how pressing cultural issues like access, activism, aesthetics, disability, harassment, gender, race, and sexuality play out on streaming platforms across the globe. The medium is altering behaviors, norms, and communication patterns. But most vitally, it is motivating participants to engage with real life as it unfolds in real time. Ultimately, these essays challenge readers to consider both the possibilities for harm and the potential for radical change that live streaming presents.
Contact Me
Direct message on Discord/Twitter is your best bet to reach me. I am terrible at responding to email. I will read yours, and then either reply right away, or between two days and two years later.

I hold open office hours on a rotating schedule. If you would like to meet, please book an appointment to chat with me.
Bass Hall 106

Mailing Address
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063 USA

Office Hours
Check times on Calendly


Recent News
  August 2023
Published my first book with MIT Press, a co-edited volume titled Real Life in Real Time: Live Streaming Culture, available in print and free digital open access on August 23.
  June 2023
Gave a talk at DiGRA about queer conviviality in speedrunning live streams called Coming Out While Going Fast.
  March 2023
Spoke at PAX East on a panel called The Organizations That Help Aspiring Gaming Professionals and Streamers Grow Their Careers with a delegation of a dozen Smithies in the audience.
  December 2022
Tweeted so well the Los Angeles Times quoted what I had to say in their story about Native appropriation.
  November 2022
Streamed a short CHI PLAY talk called Playing Unbound which serves as my latest call to action for my colleagues to positively transform HCI.
  July 2022
Appeared on KQED's Forum to talk about Logging in to The World of Collegiate Esports with San Francisco's National Public Radio audience.