Maggie Hughes

PhD candidate

Maggie designs technologies and systems informed by the human practices that contribute to a functioning deliberative democracy, such as dialogue and community organizing. In her PhD, she explores different methods of data collection, analysis, visualization, and action that are informed by these practices. Using participatory methods for design research, including codesign and participatory action research, Maggie partners with local community members and organizers in her work. Currently in the Center for Constructive Communication, she works on research related to the Real Talk project for which she co-lead participatory sensemaking and now codesigns data analysis processes and visualizations in Boston.

With a specific focus on computer supported cooperative work, Maggie has published in CHI, CSCW, and HICSS. In recent years, she has hosted workshops at the intersection of community organizing and technology at CSCW to support researchers in studying the craft and technologists and academics in practicing it. She has been a Teaching Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy school with Marshall Ganz for Organizing: People Power Change, and has been the head teaching assistant and co-course-designer for Designing Constructive Communication Systems at the Media Lab.

For her master’s thesis, Maggie dove into an ethnographic study of facilitation methods such as Circle practice (used commonly in abolitionist and anti-mass incarceration movements) and designed Keeper, an online facilitation scaffolding informed by the study. Before that, her research primarily focused on and continues to be motivated be growing political fragmentation in the US, a subject personally meaningful to her.



Online conversation support scaffolding modeled after ancient and modern social technologies.

Research Lab