Gretchen Ortiz

HCI & Psychology

MS in Human-Computer Interaction

Georgia Tech

I’m a tech geek interested in emerging technology and fascinated about how people understand and interact with it. Since high school, I have assisted friends and relatives in their struggle with technology. As a result, I decided to take a step further and learn about usability. After much pondering, I chose to get a degree in Human-Computer Interaction from Georgia Tech. My initial focus was on web usability but I shifted towards social networking by the end of the first semester. I worked doing qualitative research on different online communities (e.g. Facebook and SecondLife). One of the many group projects was based on Maple Story (MMORPG) and I loved it. After this and much thinking, I decided to focus my Master’s project on that same MMORPG. I fell in love with online games and virtual worlds, not just because I like games, but the fact that I could keep in contact with friends while playing.

BA in Psychology

Universidad de Puerto Rico I have a bachelor’s degree is in Psychology (Social Science Department, UPR).  Two courses were life-changing: Theories of Personality & Feminist Theories. These classes introduced me to the complex phenomena that occur between technology and humans. I had to study identity issues in cyberspace. I read about how personality is flexible and dynamic inside a virtual space. This phenomenon changes our notion of what is normal. Whatever we take for granted in the real world may no longer be valid in virtual space. In “The Cyborg Manifesto” Donna Haraway exposes how interconnected humans have become with technology. A cellphone is no longer a machine in our hands; it is part of our body. We have become cyborgs. We have to understand that complexity to accept the new reality. As humans, we need to design technology that belongs to us, not the other way around.