Hi, everyone! I’m Gus. I am pleased to be joining Simply Secure for a one-year fellowship.

For the past year and change I worked for the Open Internet Tools Project, where I pioneered their work on security usability. OpenITP being an open source organization, I had the great joy of doing all my work in public, which means everything we did is still online and publicly available. Among the things I did:

  • worked to help the community share best practices in usability;
  • ran usability-focused hackathons;
  • held a monthly meeting of security trainers (which is still ongoing!);
  • held workshops to develop security-focused user personas and visual assets;
  • ran user tests on a number of tools;
  • analyzed tool-building projects’ data on their downloads;
  • and wrote analyses of the field.

My fellowship at Simply Secure will have two parts:

One part of my job this year will be continuing to do usability work for various secure-tools projects, in a more focused way. I will work with particular projects to identify what their usability needs are and develop solutions specific to their stage of development. These might include design workshops, metrics analysis, expert review, or more user testing.

The other part of my job will be a more overarching research project that might be useful to a number of tool developers, as well as to the broader community of security trainers, usable-security researchers, and digital literacy educators. Building on the methodology already developed by Arne Renkema-Padmos, I will work with a handful of researchers to assess users’ mental models of how the Internet works. Users will draw out diagrams of what they understand, with “scaffolding” provided by images of Internet elements with which they may be familiar (browsers, routers, etc.). We will then analyze these diagrams to identify patterns in misconceptions, as well as what users already understand.

Outside of work, I produce The Media Show, a YouTube series about media literacy and digital literacy which I began while writing my dissertation at Teachers College. Our latest series of episodes answer questions about media and technology drawn from Google Autocomplete — meaning many people have asked them. We’ve got episodes in the works on how ads know your location, how the Internet crosses the ocean, and how hackers find out your passwords. Previously, we’ve done episodes on how spam ends up in your email and how search engines work. Follow our progress on YouTube.

I look forward to continuing to work with folks in this space!

The Media Show’s puppets explain how search engines work The Media Show’s puppets explain how search engines work