Writing 1. Sensation
Is there a sensation of being on the internet or in virtual worlds that you think of fondly? What is it, and where did your affinity for that sensation come from? Does it come from nostalgia and longing? Or does it come from personal and political beliefs? Can you describe a past memory or imagine a space on the internet that has that atmosphere? How is it designed? Maybe you could get into the logistics and politics? Editing privileges? Safeness and moderation?
- Paul Ford, "Reboot the World" (2015)
- Tara Vancil, "An Abbreviated History of the Web" lecture (2017)
Writing 2. Website
In our current age of “big data,” with players such as Google, Instagram, Yelp, etc. that often make having your own individual or small company website obsolete, what values might such a website provide? Choose two specific websites that embody these values. (Think of a website for an individual person/presence or a small company/organization.) Describe each website. What does it feel like to read/view/use, navigate around, and return to it? Who specifically do you imagine coded the website, and who might update it? (Is it the same individual?) Why is this website important to you personally?
- Laurel Schwulst, "My website is a shifting house next to a river of knowledge. What could yours be?" (2018) *
- Conversation with Toph Tucker and Jasmine Lee, "Restaurant Websites" (2019)
- J.R. Carpenter, "A Handmade Web" (2015)
Writing 3. Love
As Fei Liu writes, the like/heart button is a flattening affordance of giving affirmation and love. The text-editor provides a much more expressive input. But even people who can't communicate well because of language barriers can express love through actions, like cooking food. Can we create other "love inputs" that might allow us to "reach across the chasm of a seamless signal"? What is expressing "real" love or affirmation about? Is it about effort, thoughtfulness, generosity, something else? What might a thoughtful or generous interface feel or behave like?
- Fei Liu, "A drop of love in the cloud" (2018) *
- Pirijan Ketheswaran, "A charming conversation between you, a computer, and me" (2018) *
Writing 4. Calm
In an age of information overload online, it’s easy to feel the oppressiveness of the internet. But it seems if we can decide on a specific attitude or approach that works for us, it helps. Personally—do you find yourself resisting, finding pockets for slowness, or do you embrace entropy, going with the flow? Do you do both? Describe any specific rituals or practices that have helped you. How would you generalize your personal approach to information overload in order to find inner calm and purpose?
- Mark Weiser and John Seely Brown, "The Coming Age of Calm Technology" (1996)
- Ingrid Burrington, "Sand in the Gears" (2018) *
- Max Fowler, "A harm reduction guide to using your phone less" (2018) *
Writing 5. Literacy
What’s your relationship to literacy and reading like? What was it like as a child? What is it like now? Do you feel it’s changed over the course of your lifetime? What does a meaningful experience with literature feel like to you? Is literacy important? Describe any specific design affordances that help your experience in reading. Try describing one in print (physical books) and one in digital (e-readers). Is "interactivity" important to literacy and reading? Also, in an ideal world, what might the future of literacy be like? Science fiction writer Octavia Butler wondered, "What is the likelihood of a future in which reading is no longer necessary for the majority of the people? I don't much like the look of that future, but I wonder if when computers, for instance, can be addressed verbally, can be spoken to, whether it will still be necessary for people to be able to read and write."
- Octavia Butler and Samuel Delany in conversation at MIT, media in translation (1998)
- Édouard U., “On building knowledge networks” (2018) *
Writing 6. Publishing
How would you define publishing, broadly speaking? What might some reasons you would publish something online versus in print? What about vice versa? Next, describe two specific reading experiences online that have been memorable to you. What made them memorable? Was it the type of material you read, the way it was presented, the UI? How did you feel while reading? Was it immersive? Or did it capture your attention in a different way? How would it have been different had you read it in print?
- Paul Chan, "To Publish or Perish" lecture (2012)
- Interview with Rachel Rosenfelt, Founder of the New Inquiry (2017)
- Gwen Allen, "Magazine Statements, 1798–2013" (2016) — will email you all this
in the class reader *