With moral and technical imagination, we shape tools and technologies for human beings, non-human stakeholders, and the planet.

Over the past two decades, the VSD Lab has engaged in a wide range of projects including but not limited to the security of implantable medical devices; children’s social and moral interactions with robotic pets; mobile phones and the safety of homeless young people; web browsers and informed consent; snow leopards, poaching, and citizen science; privacy in public; large scale urban simulation for land use and environmental planning; the invisible materiality of information technology; and information systems in support of transitional justice. An archive of sample past projects can be found on the projects page.

Current Projects

computer code


Data statements document key decisions and characteristics of data sets. This tool provides a means for creating more representative datasets, mitigating bias in the use of data driven systems, and enabling better science. We developed data statements in the context of natural language processing (NLP) systems and language data types. In 2021 we released Schema Version 2 for data statements for NLP systems as well as A Guide for Writing Data Statements for Natural Language Processing. In collaboration with the UW Tech Policy Lab.

See: Bender, E. M. and Friedman, B. (2018). Data statements for natural language processing: Toward mitigating system bias and enabling better science. Transactions of the Association of Computational Linguistics, 6, 587-604. DOI:

People: Emily M. Bender, Batya Friedman, Angie McMillian-Major

Contact: Emily M. Bender | Emily's Contact Info

Website: Data Statements

a tractor in a field


COVID-19 has laid bare the brittleness of American food systems, which climate change will only stress further in the coming years. Taking a design stance, we are exploring the role of technology and tech policy in food resilience. By engaging with both farming on the ground in a rural community and the broader policy infrastructure of agriculture, we hope to generate insights that will improve food resilience going forward. In collaboration with the UW Tech Policy Lab.

See: Ballard, S., Calo, R., Chordia, I., Friedman, B., Greendorfer, E., Hendry, D.G., Logler, N., Torborg, S., and Wanstreet, R. (2022). Ways to Grow: New Directions for Agricultural Technology Policy. Published by the Tech Policy Lab, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

People: Stephanie Ballard, Ryan Calo, Ishita Chordia, Batya Friedman, Elias Greendorfer, David Hendry, Nick Logler, Savannah McKinnon, Rian Wanstreet

Contact: Nick Logler | nlogler [at]

computer hardware


Every technology we interact with is made of something. Even cloud technology runs on physical servers. As we devote more and more of our attention to digital interactions, the physical materials that make those interactions possible fade into the background. In this design research, we interrogate our relationship with materials. How do we expand our understanding of what is and can be a material? How do we care for and maintain physical artifacts? How does language condition our understanding of material systems? Asking these questions (and more) creates opportunities to explore our conceptions of justice, flourishing, and living well in material worlds.

See: Logler, N., Pitt, C., Gao, X., Hishikawa, A. M., Yip, J., & Friedman, B. (2020). “I Feel Like This is a Bad Thing”: Investigating Disassembly in Action for Novices. Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 1–14.

People: Stephanie Ballard, Allan Borning, Batya Friedman, David Hendry, Nick Logler

Contact: Nick Logler | nlogler [at] or Stephanie Ballard | ballard4 [at]

Progress not perfection


In their 2019 book, Friedman and Hendry provide a comprehensive account of Value Sensitive Design, documenting nine theoretical constructs. With this project, we continue that theoretical work including the characterization of value sensitive design as a formative theory; “stakeholder identity” as a subcategory within the theoretical construct of stakeholders; and how to account for historical systemic harms. We also consider the implications of these new theoretical developments for established value sensitive design methods and toolkits such as the Envisioning Cards.

See: Hendry, D. G., Friedman, B. and Ballard, S. (2021). Value sensitive design as a formative framework. Ethics and Information Technology 23, 39-44.

People: Stephanie Ballard, Alan Borning, Batya Friedman, Elias Greendorfer, David Hendry, Nick Logler

Contact: Batya Friedman | batya [at] or David Hendry | dhendry [at]

Website: The icon represents the notion of progress, not perfection. For more on this visual language, see About VSD



On the Steppe is a community radio series on designing and using technology wisely. In these conversations, UW Information School Professor Batya Friedman and KTRT Radio Program Manager Don Ashford think about how we shape technology, how technology shapes us, and how we can grow our moral and technical imaginations. In collaboration with the UW Tech Policy Lab and the Methow Valley radio station KTRT 97.5 FM “The Root”. Join them in these conversations!

People: Don Ashford, Batya Friedman, Nick Logler, Elias Greendorfer

Contact: Batya Friedman | batya [at] or Don Ashford | don [at]

Website: On the Steppe

drone in a flower field with the script "the bee flew along, the drone bee.."


Over a decade has passed since the initial articulation of value scenarios as a VSD method. Since that time, value scenarios have been applied in academia, education, and industry as an envisioning tool in academic publications, classrooms, and as a way to introduce VSD newcomers to designing with human values in mind. In this retrospective analysis, we bring together exemplary value scenarios, catalog their uses to date, provide heuristics for developing value scenarios, and reflect on the method’s strengths and limitations.

See: Nathan, L. P., Friedman, B., Klasnja, P., Kane, S. K., & Miller, J. K. (2008). Envisioning systemic effects on persons and society throughout interactive system design. Proceedings of the 7th ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems, 1–10.

People: Stephanie Ballard, Batya Friedman, Elias Greendorfer, David Hendry, Nick Logler

Contact: Stephanie Ballard | ballard4 [at]

Voices of the Rwanda Tribunal logo


This multi-lifespan design project explores the role of information systems in supporting transitional justice and societal healing from genocide. The collection contains 49 video interviews with personnel from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) documenting the perspectives and stories that they would like to share with the people of Rwanda, the international justice community and the global public, now, 50 and 100 years from now. Contributions include multi-lifespan design methods and strategies including: multi-lifespan timeline, multi-lifespan co-design, and strategic pause.

See: Friedman, B., Nathan, L. P., & Yoo, D. (2016). Multi-Lifespan Information System Design in Support of Transitional Justice: Evolving Situated Design Principles for the Long(er) Term. Interacting with Computers, 29(1), 80–96.

People: Batya Friedman, Robert Alsdorf, Tadayoshi Kohno, Nick Logler, Lisa Nathan, Trond Nilsen, Elizabeth Utter, Daisy Yoo, et al.

Contact: Batya Friedman | batya [at]

Website: Voices from the Rwanda Tribunal

a toolbox filled with old tools


Drawing on Value Sensitive Design theory and method and being responsive to the design situation calls for skillful practice. Yet skillful practice is not easily described and can be hard to cultivate. The VSD-in-a-Box project addresses this challenge, providing a comprehensive collection of heuristics, hands-on materials, strategies, and toolkits to teach and support skillful practice. We anticipate these will be packaged in a single, integrated entity, hence VSD-in-a-box.

See: Friedman, B., Hendry, D. G., & Borning, A. (2017). A Survey of Value Sensitive Design Methods. Foundations and Trends® in Human–Computer Interaction, 11(2), 63–125.

People: Stephanie Ballard, Batya Friedman, Elias Greendorfer, David Hendry, Nick Logler

Contact: David Hendry | dhendry [at]

Website: VSD Coop

See also: Toolkits

Child and parent using laptop


We investigate how youth do "invisible work" with technologies to solve family information problems around health, finances, and education.

See: Pina, L., Gonzalez, C., Nieto, C., Roldan, W., Onofre, E., & Yip, J. (2018). How Latino children in the U.D. engage in collaborative online information problem solving with their families. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction 2(CSCW), Article 140,

People: Jason Yip, Wendy Roldan, Carmen Gonzalez

Contact: Jason Yip | jcyip [at]

Website: Children, Technology Research, Learning + Families Lab