Over my life, I’ve transitioned from a starry-eyed child fascinated by technology, to an adult disillusioned by her experiences in it. I’ve also begun to notice the dominant values that echo my social and technical worlds: I must be rational and productive, work to prove my value, quieten my emotions.
Adulthood forces me to unpack some of these beliefs, but as I navigate a career in technology — how do I continue forward? How can I reconcile with ideologies still so ingrained in computing culture? What can it look like to refigure my personal relationship with computing, by going back to its roots?
My response to these questions is Jackie’s OS: a nostalgic, speculative reimagining of my childhood computer that dreams about an alternate timeline of my formative, (twee)n years in the mid-2000s.
Drawing from research of computing systems as echoing patriarchal, hegemonic values about intelligence, productivity, and control, I ask: what if my computer could embody values I wish I could’ve seen? That I have value the way I am, deserve to have space for emotions, and have agency on my own terms?
These values are the core design principles in Jackie’s OS and its reimagined graphical user interface, file system, user authentication, and applications. In a simulated, web-based operating system, visitors can encounter the alternate-reality world of my past self by clicking around the interface, exploring my things, and playing with applications - all designed in my whimsical, childhood imaginary.
The features and applications built for Jackie's OS keep these core design principles in mind and draw from my own experiences. They include (but are not limited to), a "bedroom" instead of a computer desktop to encourage rest and dreaming rather than capitalist productivity, an intimately personal authentication system based on trust and discovery rather than control and dominance, and a file system where "Thingz" are organized according to categories that make sense in my childhood worldview.