Fall 2017

LMC 6399: Discovery and Invention in Digital Media

Office: TSRB 316A
Office Hours: By appointment.
Email: ledantec@gatech.edu

Class Meetings: Tuesday/Thursday, 9:30–10:45AM
Class Location: Skiles 002
Lab Meeting: Friday 2:00–3:00PM
Lab Location: Skiles 346

TA: Sandjar Kozubaev
TA Email: skozubaev3@gatech.edu

Course Description

The purpose of this course is to introduce you to a suite of design research methods that can be used to discover opportunities for inventive new computational products and services. It complements the design and production skills developed in LMC 6310 and LMC 6313 with applied research skills.

The course is comprised of readings and projects. The readings provide the theoretical background to the design methods that you will explore through the projects.

Learning Objectives

M.S. Objectives

  • Devise, design, create, and assess prototypical digital media artifacts, services, or environments and to contextualize them within recognized traditions of practice.
  • Explain, give examples of, and defend one’s use of formal digital media design terminology
  • Compare, critique, and appraise digital media artifacts, services, and environments using formal terminology
  • Summarize your work orally and in written form using formal terminology
  • Justify the design choices in your works

Ph.D. Objectives

  • Identify and analyze a domain within the field and identify areas for original contribution as well as methods to pursue these contributions
  • Explain, give examples of, and defend one’s use of formal digital media design terminology
  • Identify and define a suitable research problem in digital media design and apply appropriate disciplinary or interdisciplinary research methods to address it.
  • Demonstrate ability to conduct original research in support of designing new genres and forms of digital media

In addition, both MS and PhD students should have three portfolio worthy projects that demonstrate your skills in design research methods for innovation in digital media.

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. Part of your participation grade will be determined by your application of insights and references from assigned readings to class project critiques.


If you complete all of the requirements for the assignment reasonably well, you should expect to earn a B. In order to earn an A, you must complete and go “above and beyond” all of the requirements and your work must be exceptional across multiple grading factors.

Absence from more than three classes will result in the loss of 1-letter grade for the course. Tardiness for more than four classes will result in the loss of 1-letter grade for the course.

Honor Code Statement

Students are expected to adhere to the Georgia Tech Honor Code.


The course grade will comprise the following assignments, equally weighted:

Project 1
Project 2
Project 3
Written Responses
Research proposal (PhD)

To be extra clear, MS students will have four deliverables, each contributing 25% to the overall grade; PhD students will have 5 deliverables, each contributing 20% to the overall grade.

Written responses to the readings will be graded on a 3-point scale: exceptional (3), adequate (2), lacking (1). The grade is out of a maximum of 25 points (there are 10 responses over the course of the semester). Responses need to be posted (in-line, not as attachments) to the appropriate Slack channel by mid-night before the readings will be discussed. Please take time to review each others’ responses before seminar to ground discussion in observations and questions from your peers.

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

August 22

First day of class.


Structure, Content, and purpose of the course.


August 24

Design Research, part 1

“Rhetoric, Humanism, and Design”, Buchanan

“The Interaction Design Research Triangle of Design Practice, Design Studies, and Design Exploration”, Fallman

“Science and Design: The Implications of Different Forms of Accountability”, Gaver

Assignment: Construct, deploy, document, and assess the use of a D.I.Y. media system

PhD Students: Select a domain and develop 1-3 research questions.

Week 2

August 29

Design Research, part 2

“What is a Research Question”, Davis

“Navigating the Method Mire”, Matthews and Brereton

“Four Cultures of Analysis in Design Research”, Koskinen

“Prototypes and Prototyping in Design Research”, Wenseveen and Matthews


August 31

Hacking and Tinkering As Method, part 1

“Epistemological Pluralism: Styles and Voices within the Computer Culture”, Turkle and Papert

“At the Seams: DIYbio and Opportunites for HCI”, Kuznetsov et al.

“Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture”, Jenkins

Week 3

September 5

Hacking and Tinkering As Method, part 2

“Hacktivism as Design Research Method”, Busch

“Grassroots Mapping: Creating a participatory map-making process centered on discourse” by Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, Dosemagen, Warren, and Wylie, http://www.joaap.org/issue8/GrassrootsMapping.htm

“Hacking, Mashing, Gluing: Understanding Opportunistic Design”, Hartmann, Doorley, and Klemmer


September 7

Annotated Portfolios and Design Notebooks

“Annotated Portfolios”, Gaver and Bowers

“The logic of Annotated Portfolios: Communicating the value of ‘research through design”, Bowers

“Making Spaces: How design notebooks work”, Gaver

Week 4

September 12

No class. Hurricane.


September 14

No class. Conference travel.

Week 5

September 19

Project 1, interim presentations


September 21

Portfolio Review

Week 6

September 26

Project 1 Final Presentations


September 28

Project 1 Final Presentations

Week 7

October 3

Ethnography and Design

Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes, Ch 1, 3, 6

Assignment: Identify and a social practice and propose designs / design guidelines in support of that social practice.

PhD Students: Refine research questions and develop related work.


October 5

Studio day. Conference travel.

Week 8

October 10

No class. Fall break.


October 12

Reflective Design as Design Research Method, part 1

“Strong Concepts”, Höök and Löwgren

“Abductive Thinking and Sensemaking: The Drivers of Design Synthesis”, Kolko

“Investigating the Presence, Form and Behavior of Virtual Possessions in the Context of a Teen Bedroom”, Odom et al.

“Lost in Translation: Understanding the Possession of Digital Things in the Cloud” Odom et al.

Week 9

October 17

Project 2 interim presentation


October 19

Design Criticism As Method

“What is ‘Critical’ about Critical Design?” Bardzell and Bardzell

“Expanding and Refining Design and Criticality in HCI”, Pierce et al

‘Criticism and Function in Critical Design Practice”, Malpass

Week 10

October 24

Design Fiction As Method

“Design Fiction”, Bleeker

“Design Fiction”, Stirling

“The Rhetoric of the Image”, Barthes

“Speculative Design: Crafting the Speculation”, Auger


October 26

Studio Day

Assignment: Create an interactive prototype for the practice in project 2.

PhD Students: Develop research plan, linking question and method and expected outcomes.

Week 11

October 31

Project 2 final presentations


November 1

Project 2 final presentations

Week 12

November 7

Design, Collectives and Assemblages

“Understanding Design as a Social Creative Process”, Warr and O’Neill

“Design Culture and Dialogic Design”, Manzini

“Decentering the Human in the Design of Collaborative Cities”, Forlano


November 9

Studio day.

Week 13

November 14

Project 3 interim presentations


November 16

Project 3 interim presentations

Week 14

November 21

Studio day


November 23

No class. Thanksgiving break.

Week 15

November 28

Studio day.


November 30

Final presentations.

Week 16

December 5

Final presentations. Last day of classes.

Information for Students with Disabilities

Please notify the instructor if you have any disabilities with which you need special assistance or consideration. The campus disability assistance program can be contacted through ADAPTS.