Spring 2013

LMC 6314: Design of Networked Media

Office: TSRB 316A
Office Hours: TBD and by appointment.
Email: ledantec@gatech.edu

Class Meetings: Tuesday/Thursday, 3:05-4:25PM
Location: TSRB 323

Course Description

Mobile technologies from mobile phones to tablet computers, to netbooks and laptops are changing where and how people interact with digital media and with each other. This graduate seminar will focus on the cultural and social impact of mobile technologies, taking a global view of where and how these technologies are being adopted and adapted to solve local problems. Through a combination of reading, design assignments, and a semester-long project, we will examine the broad field of mobile computing and probe issues of access, adoption, identity, privacy, and participation in different cultural and social contexts. The readings will draw on a diverse body of literature, including perspectives from anthropology, sociology, design studies, human-computer interaction, as well as accounts of mobile technology from news and other popular media. The design assignments will be structured around exploring the limits and opportunities for mobile interactions and will challenge you to consider different modes and different cultural (global) settings of mobile technology use.

Course Objectives

After taking this course you should:

  • Have a more comprehensive understanding of the technologies and interaction techniques available and appropriate for mobile application design.
  • Be able to use the theories and works presented in this course to frame and support discussion and critique of mobile technologies.

This class is intended to provide both hands-on experience designing different aspects of mobile interaction along with theoretical and critical perspectives that will help you reflect on the kinds of trade-offs that may be confronted during design. This should include issues of participation, privacy, and identity, among others. The design assignments and semester project are indented to expose different parts of the mobile infrastructure so that each may be interrogated as sites for design and critique.


The total grade for the class will be based upon the following factors and weights:

Participation: 10%
Design Assignments: 30% (10% each)
Semester Project: 60% (10% for each milestone + 20% process book)

Participation & Attendance

Class attendance and participation is mandatory. Participation in class discussion is imperative because it allows you to explore the readings and themes collaboratively, and in the process, discover meanings and issues that you probably would not discover on your own. Participation in class also challenges you to continuously question, refine and articulate your own ideas and interpretations.

In addition, much of this class is based in discussion of the readings and constructive critique of the design assignments and class project, all of which require full participation and cannot be replicated outside of class.

Missing more than 2 classes will result in a loss of 1 letter grade.

Readings & Texts

There is one required text for this course: Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity. All other readings will either be accessible via T-Square or online.

Design Assignments

Each design assignment will follow the same general pattern. The first deliverable will include 5-7 prototype sketches. These will be presented in-class for critique and discussion and handed in. The second (revision) part of each assignment will have you focus your attention on one or two of your prototypes where you will more fully develop the ideas, taking into account feedback from the critique.

In the first part of each assignment I will be looking for breadth: you will need to present several different ideas that approach the theme from different angles, that play off different constraints, and that challenge and interrogate our notions of mobility with respect to the theme.

In the second part of each assignment, I will be looking for depth: you will need to thoroughly expanded the initial ideas, developing a plausible scenario more thoroughly, providing more depth to the experience and to what the system or application or device would look like.

These are meant to be prototypes, not working systems, so the kinds of deliverables I expect are sketches of application screens, system diagrams, or storyboards. As you select the one or two ideas to further develop, the fidelity should go up—more detail in the mockups, more complete narrative arcs in storyboards, etc.

Each assignment will be centered around a particular theme that should be used as a launching point for the prototypes:

  1. Location: Place/space, environment, boundaries, context.
  2. Participation: Who uses/does not use the technology, consequences of use.
  3. Identity: Notions of self, privacy, safety.

Semester Project

You will need to form small groups of two to three to complete the semester project. This project is open ended and will give you an opportunity to examine the convergence of mobility and technology in more depth.

The semester long project will have four primary milestones:

  1. Project proposal: Each group will present their proposal to the class for discussion and critique. They will also turn-in a 2-5 page proposal document describing the project.

    Your group will need to propose a domain in which to explore mobile technology—e.g., mobile games, health and wellness, social computing, ICTD, community action, etc. You may propose a mobile service, an application, or a new kind of device. Your proposal will also need to include details about how you plan to research your potential users and context—providing a plan for how will you document your process and gain the insight needed to appropriately articulate your system/application/artifact design through the subsequent project milestones.
  2. Milestone 1: Each group will present more detail on their project context and 2-3 prototypes of their system/application for critique and discussion.

    For the first milestone you will deliver documents demonstrating how you investigated your target users and context. This may include photos and video from observation, field notes, or other ethnographic materials; if you are working with a context or problem space that is not immediately accessible, you will need to include a literature review. You will also develop prototypes of your service/application/device. Each prototype should demonstrate a key usage scenario and include enough detail to communicate how the people will experience your technology and should be clearly motivated by the fieldwork/literature review.
  3. Milestone 2: Each group will present/demo their system/application prototype for additional critique and discussion.

    This milestone will have your group focus on one of your prototypes, developing it further and more completely. You should add detail to both the design of the technology as well as to the social setting in which the technology will be used. While still a prototype, I expect to see more fidelity in the execution and depth of scenarios/cases covered.
  4. Final presentation, poster, and process book: Each group will give a 20 minute presentation on their project (time may be adjusted according to class size and scheduling). I expect each group to have addressed any feedback provided at milestone 2 and to have taken their design further; the prototypes should be ‘demoable’.

    Each group will also produce a poster for their project. We will hold a dedicated critique session for posters and the expectation is these posters will be presented at the end-of-term demo day.

    Finally, each group will hand in a final process book for the project that should provide clear and thoughtful documentation and reflection on how the design progressed through each of the milestones: what constraints informed early prototypes; what were the key choices that occurred as designs were developed or discarded; descriptions and documentation of how the context was investigated; a description of the key use scenarios (there will be more than one).

This project is designed to give you an opportunity to develop your practical and theoretical understanding of mobile media. I do not expect every project to center around mobile phones or tablet computing—in fact, I encourage you to think about new forms of technology or to interrogate mobile technologies that exist outside the canon of mainstream use.

For those of you interested, there are a number of opportunities to turn your projects into papers and/or posters at academic conferences. I would encourage you to look at the calls for demos and student design competitions for project ideas and ways to parlay course work into something more:

  • Mobile HCI Design Competition (deadline May 1, 2013), Posters (May 8, 2013)
  • Ubicomp Demos and Posters (deadline March 2013)

Class Resources

This class is meant to help you explore different aspects of mobile systems (applications, architectures, services, interactions, etc.). As such, there is no strict technical requirement for how you develop and implement your semester project. To that end, there are a number of resources you might find useful depending on your technical background and interest:

Prototyping Tools:

Course Schedule

What follows is an outline for the course. As the course progresses, we may adjust dates and materials; however, unless specifically stated in class, you should assume this schedule is current and accurate.

Week 1

January 8

First day of class.

Design Assignment 1 (Location) out.


January 10


L. Barkhuus and M. Chalmers. Picking pockets on the lawn: The development of tactics and strategies in a mobile game, 2005.

M. Chalmers, A. Dieberger, K. Höök, and Ã…. Rudström. Social navigation and seamful design. Cognitive Studies: Bulletin of the Japanese Cognitive Science Society, 11(3):171–181, 2004.

Week 2

January 15


S. Harrison, and P. Dourish. Re-place-ing space: the roles of place and space in collaborative systems. In Proceedings of the 1996 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. pages 67–76, New York, NY, USA, 1996. ACM Press.

E. Paulos and E. Goodman. The familiar stranger: Anxiety, comfort, and play in public places. In CHI ’04: Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems, pages 223–230, New York, NY, USA, 2004. ACM Press.

E. Paulos and T. Jenkins. Urban probes: Encountering our emerging urban atmospheres. In CHI ’05: Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems, pages 341–350, New York, NY, USA, 2005. ACM Press.


January 17

Design Assignment 1 (Location) due. In-class critique.

Week 3

January 22


J. Brewer and P. Dourish. Storied spaces: Cultural accounts of mobility, technology, and environmental knowing. Int. J. Hum.-Comput. Stud., 66(12):963–976, 2008.

I. Shklovski, J. Vertesi, E. Troshynski, and P. Dourish. The commodification of location: dynamics of power in location-based systems. In Proceedings of the 11th international conference on Ubiquitous computing, Ubicomp ’09, pages 11–20, New York, NY, USA, 2009. ACM.

E. Troshynski, C. Lee, and P. Dourish. Accountabilities of presence: Reframing location-based systems. In CHI ’08: Proceeding of the twenty-sixth annual SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems, pages 487–496, New York, NY, USA, 2008. ACM.


January 24

Design Assignment 1 (Location) part 2 due. In-class critique.

Design Assignment 2 (Participation) out.

Week 4

January 29


M. Augé. Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity. Verso Books, 1995.


January 31

Project work day.

Week 5

February 5


E. Björgvinsson, P. Ehn, and P.-A. Hillgren. Participatory design and “democratizing innovation”. In Proceedings of the 11th Biennial Participatory Design Conference, PDC ’10, pages 41–50, New York, NY, USA, 2010. ACM.

B. Friedman and P. H. Kahn, Jr. Human values, ethics, and design. In The human-computer interaction handbook: fundamentals, evolving technologies and emerging applications, pages 1177–1201. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Mahwah, NJ, USA, 2003.

P. Sengers, K. Boehner, S. David, and J. J. Kaye. Reflective design. In CC ’05: Proceedings of the 4th decennial conference on Critical computing, pages 49–58, New York, NY, USA, 2005. ACM.


February 7

Semester Project proposal presentations.

Week 6

February 12


G. Marsden, A. Maunder, and M. Parker. People are people, but technology is not technology. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 366:3795–3804, July 2008.

A. S. Taylor. Out there. In Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference on Human factors in computing systems, CHI ’11, pages 685–694, New York, NY, USA, 2011. ACM.

K. Toyama. Technology as amplifier in international development. In Proceedings of the 2011 iConference, iConference ’11, pages 75–82, New York, NY, USA, 2011. ACM.


February 14

Design Assignment 2 (Participation) due. In-class critique.

Week 7

February 19


K. R. Cohen. Who we talk about when we talk about users. In EPIC ’05: Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings, pages 9–30. Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2005.

L. Irani, J. Vertesi, P. Dourish, K. Philip, and R. E. Grinter. Postcolonial computing: a lens on design and development. In Proceedings of the 28th international conference on Human factors in computing systems, CHI ’10, pages 1311–1320, New York, NY, USA, 2010. ACM.


February 21

Design Assignment 2 (Participation) revision due. In-class critique.

Design Assignment 3 (Identity) out.

Week 8

February 26


C.A. Le Dantec and W.K. Edwards. Designs on Dignity: Perceptions of Technology among the Homeless. In CHI ’08: Proceeding of the twenty-sixth annual SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems. ACM, (2008), 627–636.

J.P. Woelfer, A. Iverson, D.G. Hendry, B. Friedman, and B.T. Gill. Improving the safety of homeless young people with mobile phones: values, form and function. In CHI ’11: Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference on Human factors in computing systems. ACM, (2011), 1707–1716.


February 28

Project work day.

Week 9

March 5

R. E. Grinter, L. Palen, and M. Eldridge. Chatting with teenagers: Considering the place of chat technologies in teen life. ACM Transactions of Computer-Human Interaction, 13(4):423–447, 2006.

L. Srivastava. Mobile phones and the evolution of social behaviour. Behaviour & Information Technology, 24(2):111 129, 2005.


March 7

Semester Project milestone 1 presentations.

Week 10

March 12


M. Bylund, K. Höök, and A. Pommeranz. Pieces of identity. In Proceedings of the 5th Nordic conference on Human-computer interaction: building bridges, NordiCHI ’08, pages 427–430, New York, NY, USA, 2008. ACM.

S. Hall Who needs ‘identity’? in S. Hall and P. du Gay (eds.) Questions of Cultural Identity, Sage, London, 1996, 1–17.

L. Palen and P. Dourish. Unpacking “privacy” for a networked world. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems, CHI ’03, pages 129–136, New York, NY, USA, 2003. ACM.


March 14

Design Assignment 3 (Identity) due. In-class critique.

Week 11

March 19

Spring Break. No Class.


March 21

Week 12

March 26

Reading: Assigned from group projects.


March 28

Design Assignment 3 (Identity) revision due. In-class critique.

Week 13

April 2

Reading: Assigned from group projects.


April 4

Semester Project milestone 2 presentations.

Week 14

April 9

Project work day.


April 11

Poster Critique.

Week 15

April 16

Poster Critique.

Present posters and demos at the Digital Media & GVU Demo Day, April 17, 2–5PM.


April 18

Project work day.

Week 16

April 23

Final presentations.


April 25

Final presentations.

Week 17

April 30

Finals Week. No class