Homework: Remaking Domestic Network Infrastructure
Richard Mortier, University of Cambridge

Does your home network work, the way you want it to, every day? Does your parents'? Your neighbours'?

Home networking has become mundane but remains one of the most complex domestic technologies that people have to install and manage. Solving the associated problems requires an interesting mix of human-computer interaction and systems/networking: simply bolting fancy UIs onto existing infrastructure isn't enough. In the Homework project we started exploring this mix by explicitly considering the users' needs rather than blindly reusing existing technology. In this talk I will briefly describe some of the ethnographic work we carried out, and the impact this had on our technology design, a Linux-based router using Open vSwitch and NOX.

I will then discuss the particular capabilities we built and deployed in response to this ethnographic using it: putting people into the protocols, providing physically mediated access control, reducing interaction overhead for secure wireless association, and enabling users to implement network policies. I will finish by reflecting briefly on what I see as some of the interesting challenges in this space.

About the speaker
Richard Mortier is a University Lecturer in NetOS, part of the Systems Research Group in the Cambridge University Computer Laboratory. Prior to that he was a lecturer with the Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute at the University of Nottingham School of Computer Science. He is interested in computing infrastructures, specifically networked systems. In the past he has done extensive work on topics including routing behaviour in backbone networks, future network architectures, performance analysis and modelling of distributed systems, enterprise network management, and analysis of network topologies. Most recently he has become interested in interdisciplinary research and particularly the interplay between networked systems and topics that traditionally fall under human-computer interaction.
Date & Time
Thursday, February 26, 2015 - 14:00
Huxley 218