INFO 651 : Critical Technical Practices


"Those who mistrust the machine and those who glorify it show the same incapacity to utilize it. Machine work and mass production offer unheard-of possibilities for creation, and those who are able to place these possibilities at the service of a daring imagination will be my creators of tomorrow." --- Guy Debord

This seminar explores building information technology as a form of critical inquiry. As computer science and human-computer interaction come into contact with traditionally nontechnical disciplines such as art, design, and cultural studies, new tensions and opportunities arise.

What will this mean for technical research? How do humanistic and artistic insights affect traditional technical methodologies and alter the questions that are being asked? What new technologies are being developed, and how do they differ from the results of purely technical research?

We will answer these questions by looking at research projects in social, tangible, and ubiquitous computing. We will compare traditional technical research with research based on interdisciplinary techniques such as tactical media, art as research, critical design, conceptual design, and innovative user-centered design.

Students from all fields are welcome. The course provides opportunities to contribute from a variety of disciplines; its baseline assumption is some ability to read technical papers as well as basic comfort with the humanities at an undergraduate level.

You can download the syllabus in print-friendly format.

Instructor: Phoebe Sengers
Location: Upson 315 Snee Hall 1150
Time: Tu, Th 3:50-5:05 11:40-12:55