Matt Ratto is an Assistant Professor and director of the Critical Making lab in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. He received his PhD from the University of California, San Diego in 2003, writing his dissertation on the social organization of the Linux development community. Past appointments include a postdoctoral position with the Netherlands Institute for Scientific Information (NIWI), researcher and founding member of the Virtual Knowledge Studio for the Humanities and Social Sciences in Amsterdam (VKS-KNAW), visiting scholar at the University of Amsterdam, and a research position in the Humlab, University of Umea, Sweden. His previous studies have addressed the use of computer simulation and modeling technologies in Archaeology, the interplay between social organization and software code, the ramifications of particular software design sensibilities on our ability to function as citizens and as members of expert collectives, and the role of digital commons-based peer production in scientific communities.
His current research focuses on how hands-on productive work – making – can supplement and extend critical reflection on the relations between digital technologies and society. In particular, Ratto’s work addresses the movement of digital media and information from screens and into the material environment. This trend, known as ‘ambient’ or ‘ubiquitous’ computing, or more colloquially as the ‘Internet of Things’, is the primary focus of his work and builds upon the new possibilities offered by open source software and hardware, and the developing technologies of 3D printing and rapid prototyping. Since 2007, Ratto has carried out workshops in ‘critical making’ in Amsterdam, London, Canada, the US, and Scotland.