Design Of Information-Rich Environments
This seminar course based on lectures, collaborative class workshops, discussions and design exercises introduces students to an array of critical themes and concepts for the creative work at the intersection of digital systems data and physical objects and space – the emerging domain of what can be referred to as urban computing or ambient informatics.
Over the past years, much of our environment has been pervaded by networks and systems that generate digital bits as part of their operations (think of public transport electronic ticketing systems, telecommunication services, the electricity grid, logistic operations, etc.). Massive amounts of data are being generated by these systems at every instance and they are closely related to human activity, both informing human actions as well as reflecting their effects (for example, the digitization of the public transport system has enabled to inform passengers of the real-time location and arrival of busses as well as informing network operators and cities in real-time of the origin-destination patterns of all passengers at every instant).
Native American Histories And Presence
Native American Histories & Presence is an introduction to the Indigenous peoples of North America and to the academic field of Native American and Indigenous studies. Drawing from Indigenous studies, history, anthropology, cultural geography, settler colonial studies, and critical ethnic studies, this interdisciplinary course focuses on the resilience of Indian nations in New England and beyond. With an awareness of history’s bearing on the present and future, Native American Histories & Presence explores how treaties and the legacy of historical policies such as allotment, relocation, termination, boarding schools, and natural resource extraction impact tribal nations today. Regarding colonization and decolonization as ongoing processes, this course highlights concepts such as sovereignty, self-determination, and environmental justice within the context of enduring and evolving relationships to land and place. Native American Histories & Presence is structured around four intersecting themes: identity, land, law, and culture. The course culminates in a collaborative project that combines public history and public art in order to activate the landscape, engage new audiences, and propose new modes of just and peaceful coexistence in the colonial present.
This course introduces concepts, methods and practices of data visualization and data storytelling for journalism majors. Data journalism is an emerging field of practice that ranges from the dazzling interactive graphics of the New York Times to the consistent, watchful reporting of sites like Homicide Watch. In this course, students learn to adopt a “data-mindset” and reflect on how telling stories with data can help advance (and occasionally obscure) public understanding. Students will learn how to find and create data sets for their stories, how to analyze data (including some basic scripting and coding) and how to present data in a variety of ways. We will also discuss privacy, verification, ethics and some of the other thorny issues that arise with data reporting. Some experience in HTML and coding is helpful but not required.
Tuning In- Reading And Listening To Public Spaces
Space is not a container, but a product of human experience and practices. In this course, we will investigate how to read and represent public space, especially from a hearing perspective. Using the complex transitory spaces in and around South Station and Ruggles Station — their structures and flows, social practices, sensory and auditory qualities — the project is based on a thick mapping approach: an approach to cartographic representation that is not limited to the representation of a given data set, but also reflecting on the process of collecting these data. This joint studio between Architecture and Information Design and Visualization investigates different approaches to read and represent a complex informational environment, through observation, listening, and critical cartography. The studio incorporates methods from environment-behavior research, human geography, design research and sound studies.
Solving Public Problems Using Technology
Inside and outside government, technology has changed the way governance is perceived and delivered. Traditional good government advocates are pressing for more effective release and availability of government data so as to forward accountability and transparency. That same data can be used by entrepreneurs to launch private businesses that may or may not support public missions. Innovators within government are trying to find more efficient ways of both running government agencies and getting access to good ideas from outside the ranks of civil servants. Citizens increasingly want better, clearer access to government services. At the same time, core policy-makers are often uncomfortable with using technology to reveal and change how decisions are actually made within government. All of this is happening at local, national, and international levels, along with an explosion in the use of mobile communications and social media. But not everywhere: digital divides persist around the word. Technology is no longer something over which the IT department has unquestioned dominion (not that the IT department is going away). It is now part of every communications, operations, advocacy, and service-delivery strategy from both inside and outside government. However, strategic, directed, data-driven, outcomes-driven use of technology in governance is still very early in its development. Many governmental and NGO actors do not have the skills to use technology effectively, and talk about technology’s democracy-enhancing possibilities is often met with concern that technology will squelch public values rather than support them. This course will combine an overview of practical skills for using technology with analytical discussion, expert guest speakers, and an introduction to user-centered design. The course is designed to be at once an entry-level survey of the govtech landscape and a course on working with community partners to solve civic problems.
Reinventing (And Reimagining) Boston: The Changing American City
This multi-disciplinary course uses Boston to help student better appreciate, understand and participate in contemporary urban life. In particular, we will explore three central questions at the heart of any conversation about any city. Who is Boston for? Who should it be for? And how will those decisions get made? The course will examine these questions via a unique combination of readings, lectures, presentations by notable local practitioners, visits to different parts of Boston, and writing assignments. In that work, we take seriously that studying a city – and teaching a Gen Ed course – is an exercise in dissonance, plurality, and negotiation. To that end, this course draws on a wide number of sources and disciplines to help answer three fundamental questions, which are always making demands of each other.
MixedReality City: Transit Symphony
The contemporary city is constituted by multiple overlapping, intermixing realities articulated across built form and imagined space, individual experience and collective memory, embodied sensation and digital mediation.
Often, these multiple realities are invisible or illegible, with certain narratives dominating particular environments. However, realities always leave traces, to be excavated and reconstructed. The MixedReality City is an exploratory research seminar and workshop in which students pursue studies of urbanisminthemaking through means and methods emerging in the digital arts and humanities, including: data narrative, digital ethnography, adversarial design, and critical technical practice. The course focuses in equal parts on unpacking discourses and developing interpretative digital artifacts.
For Spring 2015, MixedReality City takes on transit as a heuristic for understanding and experiencing the city, and travel as a means of performing urban space. We’ll proceed through five modules, touring dominant modes of moving through urban spaces, surveying their alternative and corollary modalities along the way.