Associate Professor

Contact Information

Phone: 416-946-5415
Room: RB 7023


  • Ph.D. in Communication, University of California, San Diego, 2003
  • MA in Communication, University of California, San Diego, 1999
  • BA in Theatre Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1994

Administrative Responsibilities

  • Dean's Advisory Group
  • Critical Information Studies Path Liason


Matt Ratto received his PhD from the University of California, San Diego in 2003, writing his dissertation on the social organization of the Linux development community. Following this, he completed a 2 year post-doc at the Netherlands Institute for Scientific Information (NIWI) and in 2005 helped create the Virtual Knowledge Studio for the Humanities and Social Sciences in Amsterdam (VKS-KNAW). In 2005, he was awarded a Netherlands Science Foundation (NWO) grant to study the use of computer simulation and modeling technologies in Archaeology and in 2007 was given a 1 year fellowship in the HUMlab, an innovative digital humanities laboratory located at the University of Umea, Sweden. He moved to the University of Toronto in 2008.
Matt is the director of the Critical Making lab at the University of Toronto. This facility provides students and faculty researchers with basic electrical, craft, and computing equipment that can be used to design, develop, and explore material fabrication and technical prototyping.
Matt is also the director of the Designing Digital Media for the Internet of Things consortium, a private-public-academic consortium interested in investigating, exploring, and building capacity around new developments in tangible interfaces, smart objects, and digital infrastructures. Departing from the traditional model of the hackerspace, DDiMIT is an “digital economy trading zone”, a virtual and physical space where Ontario companies, academic institutions, and community organizations can leverage their joint knowledge and skills in order to support each other in doing novel research, creating innovative products and services, and fostering creative and engaging work in the Internet of Things.

Research Highlight

Professor Ratto is developing critical making methodologies that blend scholarly reflection on critical information issues with hands-on material work. His SHHRC-funded project examines changing notions of labor and expertise in relation to 3D printing and rapid prototyping technologies.

Research description: 
Previous research by Matt has addressed 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.
Matt's current research focuses on how hands-on productive work – making – can supplement and extend critical reflection on the relations between digital technologies and society. This work builds upon the new possibilities offered by open source software and hardware, as well as the developing technologies of 3D printing and rapid prototyping. These technologies and the social collectives that create, use, and share them provide the context for exploring the relationship between ‘critical making’ and ‘critical thinking.’

Selected Publications

Journal Articles
Ratto, M. (2007) “The Ethics of Seamlessness: Resources and Future Directions,” International Review of Information Ethics. Vol. 8 - Ethical Challenges of Ubiquitous Computing.
Ratto, Matt (first author) and Anne Beaulieu (2007) "Banking on the Human Genome Project," for special issue on ‘Genes’ and Society: Looking Back on the Future, S. Z. Reuter and K. Neves-Graça, eds Canadian Review of Sociology/Revue Canadienne de sociologie, 44(2).
Ratto, M. (2006) “Foundations and Profiles: splicing metaphors in genetic databases and biobanks”. Public Understanding of Science, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 31-53.
Ratto, M. (2005) “Don’t Fear the Penguins: Negotiating the trans-local space of Linux development,” Current Anthropology, vol. 46, no. 5, Dec. 2005, pp. 827–834.
Ratto, M. (2005) “Embedded Technical Expression: Code and the Leveraging of Functionality,” The Information Society, vol. 21, No. 3. 2005.
Griswold, W. G.; Shanahan, P.; Brown, S.W.; Boyer, R; Ratto, (secondary author) M; Shapiro, R.B.; Truong, T.M. (2004) “ActiveCampus - Experiments in Community-Oriented Ubiquitous Computing," IEEE Computing, Oct. 2004.
Ratto, Matt (first author); Shapiro, R. Benjamin; Truong, Tan Minh; and Griswold, William G. (2003) “The ActiveClass Project: Experiments in Encouraging Classroom Participation”, Procedings of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning. Kluwer, 2003.
Conference Proceedings
Ratto, M. (2009) “Critical Making: conceptual and material studies in technology and social life,” paper for Hybrid Design Practices workshop, Ubicomp 2009. Orlando, Florida.
Ratto, M. (2009) “Epistemic commitments, virtual reality, and archaeological representation,” in Proceedings of the XV World Congress UISPP, Technology and Methodology for Archaeological Practice: Practical applications for the past reconstruction (eds Alexandra Velho and Hans Kamermans) Vol. 37, Session C04 (Lisbon, 4-9 September 2006), Archaeopress, British Archaeological Reports.
Ratto, M., Thoutenhoofd, E. (2007) “Cyberinfrastructure and the Cochlear Implant: technological objects, social ordering, and epistemic conflict”, paper for Inside Knowledge, Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis, March, 2007.
Ratto, M., Ferran, B. (2007) “Artists and scientists as extremophiles: extreme environments and ecology,” MutaMorphosis: Challenging Arts and Sciences, 8th - 10th of November 2007, Prague, Czech Republic, online proceedings:
Book Reviews
Ratto, M. (2008) “Next Steps in Digital Studies, Resignifying Culture, Community, and Code,” The Information Society, 24(1): 62-64.
Book Chapters
Beaulieu, A., Ratto, M., Scharnhorst, A., (forthcoming) “Learning in a Landscape: Simulation-building as Reflexive Intervention”, chapter for The Architecture of the Book and the Database, Pieter Uyttenhove and Wouter Van Acker (eds), The Architecture of the Book and the Database.
Ratto, M., Hockema, S. (2009) “Flwr Pwr: Tending the Walled Garden”, in Dekker, A & Wolfsberger A (eds.) Walled Garden, Virtueel Platform, The Netherlands.
The Virtual Knowledge Studio (Wouters, P., Vann, K., Scharnhorst, A., Ratto, M., Fry, J., Beaulieu, A., Hellsten, I.) (2007) "Messy shapes of knowledge - STS explores informatization, new media and academic work". Chapter in the New Handbook of Science, Technology and Society, E. Hackett, O. Amsterdamska, M. Lynch, J. Wajcman eds. MIT Press.
Ratto, M., van Kranenburg, R., (2007) “Bricolabs: a Network for Generic Infrastructures”. Chapter in (Un)common Ground: Creative Encounters across Sectors and Disciplines, C. Brickwood, B. Ferran, D. Garcia, & T. Putnam eds. Bis Publishers.
Conference Presentations
Kamermans, H., Ratto, M. (2008) “There must be some way out of here: blending agent-based simulation and GIS modeling”, The use of GIS in Archaeological Settlement Research: Facts, Problems and Challenges, Workshop of the Roman-Germanic Commission of the German Archaeological Institute with the DFG-project “Princely Sites” & Environs („Fürstensitze“ & Umland) Frankfurt, September 26 2008.
Ratto, M. (2007) “Grasping the smile: Moving from Widgets to Objects in Knowledge Exchange,” Enter_Unknown Territories, Cambridge, April 25-27, 2007.
Ratto, M., Thoutenhoofd, E. (2007) “Cyberinfrastructure and the Cochlear Implant: technological objects, social ordering, and epistemic conflict”, Inside Knowledge: (Un)doing Methodologies, Imagining Alternatives at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, from March 28 to 30, 2007.
Ratto, M. (2006) “Epistemic Commitments and Archaeological Representation,” International Union for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences (UISPP) XV, Lisbon, Portugal, September 4-9, 2006.
Ratto, M. (2006) Pre-Symposium Summit: Codes + Creativity, International Symposium for Electronic Arts (ISEA2006), Montalvo Art Center, Saratoga, CA.
Ratto, M. (2006) “Critical Material Practices: FLOSS, crafting, and redesign as ways of rethinking commodity culture,” special workshop: What Does Diversity Really Mean for F/LOSS?, The Second International Conference on Open Source Systems, Como, Italy, 2006.

Affiliations & Collaboration

Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR)
Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S)

Year joined the iSchool



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