Jie Qi PhD Dissertation Defense

July 22, 2016


MIT Media Lab, Bartos E15-070


The experience of wonder imbues the ordinary world around us with a magical sense of possibility that was not there before. When technology is seamlessly integrated into the commonplace, it can evoke a sense of wonder.
In this dissertation, Qi explores the theme of wonder in technology, learning and self-expression through the lens of paper electronics, which is circuit building on paper using conductive tapes and circuit components as electronic craft materials. This new medium blends the interactive functionality of electronics with the expressive flexibility of the paper medium. Qi presents an overview of the paper electronics medium as well as its extension in the form of electrified books. Qi then described the design of a paper electronics toolkit called circuit stickers and how this toolkit was deployed through a company Chibitronics and the 21st Century Notebooking educational initiative. Qi then documents and evaluates paper electronics, with a focus on the circuit stickers toolkit, as a learning approach, expressive medium and way to engage more diverse communities in technology creation.
These investigations show that paper electronics has indeed impacted learners, educators and creators across many backgrounds and disciplines. It has enabled educators to teach a broad range of subjects and skills in new ways. Furthermore, they have invented their own techniques and tools, as well as contributed their own resources to the community. Artists have used paper electronics to explore electricity and interactivity for self-expression, demonstrating the aesthetic flexibility and expressive potency of this medium. Finally, it has engaged creators from diverse communities and backgrounds including young learners, educators, Makers, crafters and entrepreneurs.
In paper electronics, the craft becomes more magical as it takes on the interactivity of electronics, while the electronics become not only more expressive, but also more meaningful within the context of a crafted scene. It enables not only new approaches to learning and creating technology, it also engages new types of creators in inventing surprising technological artifacts—ones that inspire new experiences, objects and opportunities for wonder.

Host/Chair: Joseph A. Paradiso


Leah BuechleyEdith Ackermann

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