Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session


We live in an increasingly virtual world. We interact over email and IM; we meet new people and keep up with friends via their online profiles. We are continuously building a vast record of our various transactions, a personal portrait in clicks, words and video. And our communications are becoming integrated into the walls of our homes and offices, a ubiquitous blanket of connectivity.

This virtual world is wholly synthetic: the design of the underlying system shapes how you appear, what you can see and hear, and who has access to what. As designers, we are responsible for thinking about the impact of our creations: we can envision a future in which technology expands our sociability, making an extraordinarily creative, communicative and cooperative world, but we can also envision a dystopic future where friendship has become a conduit for marketing and awareness of universal surveillance choreographs our every move.


Requirements include weekly readings followed by short writing assignments, three design projects, active class participation and a final project.



In-class participation in discussion and critique50%
On the design assignments - graded on creativity, completeness, and insight into solving the given problem50%



Introduction: the design of mediated interaction

Course overview; big questions in this field; fundamental design concepts


Legibility and abstraction

How to design environments that go beyond copying the everyday physical world, yet remain intuitively comprehensible

Metaphor and design

Design review: interaction space; depicting conversation

Maps of conversations can show many things: who participated? What was their role? How did the topic evolve? And these maps can themselves be landscapes, the context for future discussions

Design problem 1: interaction space design

Visualizing time and history

The 4th dimension: clocks, calendars and other ways of marking time

Mapping conversations

Design review: personal history; varieties of portraiture

Portraits depict appearance, but they have also be made of movements, musical compositions, shopping lists, etc. Introduction to the range and art of portraiture

Design problem 2: personal time-line project

Data portraits / depicting people

What are the salient features about a person that makes them recognizable, as an individual or as a social type

Varieties of portraiture

Design review: data portrait

Design problem 3: concrete and abstract portraits

Augmented realities: visible projections and invisible annotations

Lozano-Hemmer; Naimark; Oursler; politics of public space augmentation

Augmented publics / communicating spaces

Final project proposals

Discussion of proposals

Proposal for final project


Surveillance and transparency

Supertraces: surveillance, privacy, persuasion

Final presentations

Finish final projects