Fall 2019

LMC 6399: Discovery and Invention in Digital Media

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

Class Meetings: Tuesday/Thursday, 12:00–1:15PM
Class Location: Skiles 354

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. As part of this, each seminar day will have 2-3 assigned discussants who will lead the class through the material.

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 Canvas by 8am the day 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 Introduction


Structure, Content, and purpose of the course.

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 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

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 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

“Critical Making”, Ratto

No class

Conference travel

Week 4 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

No class

Conference travel

Week 5 Critique

Project 1

Portfolio Review
Week 6 Final Presentations

Project 1

Final Presentations

Project 1

Week 7 Ethnography and Design

“Implications for Design”, Dourish

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.

Week 8 Reflective Design as Design Research Method, part 1

“Strong Concepts”, Höök and Löwgren

“Reflective design”, Sengers et al

“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.


Project 2

Week 9 No class

Fall break


Design guidelines

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

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

Week 10 Final Presentations

Project 2

Final Presentations

Project 2

Week 11 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 12 Design Fiction As Method

“Design Fiction”, Stirling

“Ambiguity as a Resource for Design”, Gaver, Beaver, & Benford

“Speculative Design: Crafting the Speculation”, Auger


Proposal: Intro and Literature Review Draft

Week 13 No class

Conference travel

No class

Conference travel

Week 14 Design, Collectives and Assemblages

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

“Design Culture and Dialogic Design”, Manzini

“From HCI to HCI-Amusement: Strategies for Engaging what New Technology Makes Old” Devendorf et al.


Project 3

Week 15 Studio


Proposal: Intro and Literature Review Draft and Methods Draft

No class

Thanksgiving break

Week 16 Final presentations

Project 3

Proposal: Final document due

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.