Forlano is an Assistant Professor of Design at the Institute of Design and Affiliated Faculty in the College of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology where she is Director of the Critical Futures Lab. From 2012-2013, she was a Visiting Scholar in the Comparative Media Studies program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research is focused on the intersection between emerging technologies, material practices and the future of cities; specifically, she writes about emergent forms of organizing and urbanism enabled by mobile, wireless and ubiquitous computing technologies with an emphasis on the socio-technical practices and spaces of innovation. She is co-editor with Marcus Foth, Christine Satchell and Martin Gibbs of From Social Butterfly to Engaged Citizen: Urban Informatics, Social Media, Ubiquitous Computing, and Mobile Technology to Support Citizen Engagement (MIT Press 2011). Forlano’s research and writing has been published in peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Peer Production, Fibreculture, Digital Culture & Society, ADA, Journal of Urban Technology, First Monday, The Information Society, Journal of Community Informatics, IEEE Pervasive Computing, Design Issues and Science and Public Policy. She has published chapters for books including editor Mark Shepard’s Sentient City: Ubiquitous Computing, Architecture, and the Future of Urban Space (MIT Press 2011) and The Architecture League of New York’s Situated Technologies pamphlet series and is a regular contributor to their Urban Omnibus blog. She received her Ph.D. in communications from Columbia University.
In Fall 2013, I opened a flat, white, rectangular box with a minimalist design, the kind that usually contains an Apple device. The experience screams: “Designed by Apple in California Assembled in China.” It’s the embodiment of high-tech, Silicon Valley culture. Inside was not a new iPhone or a red iPod, but an upgrade for a medical device. The MiniMed 530G—approved by the Food and Drug Administration on September 26, 2013—is a system of technologies that includes a glucose sensor, an insulin pump, a transmitter, a glucose meter, test strips, and software. This essay examines posthumanism in the context of networked medical devices based on the experience of becoming diseased and disabled as a result of chronic illness. In particular, the notion of posthuman subjectivitie(s) is raised as an opportunity to think through the body and its assemblage of human and non-human parts.