Refactoring Cloud Service with Modern Microservice Framework; Improving Internet Usage Experience for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Hanover, Ethan, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Morrison, Briana, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia
Francisco, Pedro Augusto, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

My capstone project investigated a specific instance of improving an existing Internet-based technology by upgrading its code infrastructure. To do this I first researched the existing and new infrastructures to ensure this upgrade was compatible with the goals of the software project as a whole, and then I began gradually migrating functionality. The purpose of this project was to determine whether such an upgrade was worthwhile on a larger scale throughout the company.
This project motivation captures the key human dimension of this capstone project: the evaluation of a project costs (i.e. labor) compared to its benefits (i.e. an improved system, ultimately for economic gain). This evaluation can only be performed by humans which introduces inevitable personal biases. Analyzing these influences as a Social Construction of Technology can help understand the importance of the human element in relation to objective techniques that often fail to represent all of a problem’s complexity.
The social influence on technology is a key focus in my STS research aswell where I plan to explore another Internet phenomenon, namely the challenges related to Internet accessibility for visually impaired users. I seek to understand what has caused the current state of Internet accessibility today, what has caused it driven it to such a state, and how it can be improved in the future. Like the capstone project, I expect human factors to play a large part in many of these questions.
Together, my capstone project and STS research are two examples of how the original goals of the Internet being efficient, high performance, fair, and accessible will always face challenges related to many conflicting motivations behind every technology implementation decision. Social influences are often a major factor, alongside economic, regulatory, political, and technological influences.

BS (Bachelor of Science)

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Technical Advisor: Briana Morrison
STS Advisor: Pedro Augusto Francisco

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