Spring 2015

LMC 6399: Discovery and Invention in Digital Media

Office: TSRB 316A
Office Hours: Friday 10:00AM–12:00PM and by appointment.
Email: ledantec@gatech.edu

Class Meetings: Monday/Wednesday, 10:05-11:25AM
Location: Skiles 346

TA: Eric Corbett
TA Email: ecorbett@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 paper (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.

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 5

First day of class.


Structure, Content, and purpose of the course.


January 7

What is Design Research?

“Rhetoric, Humanism, and Design”, Buchanan

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

“What Can We Expect from Design Research?”, Gaver

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

Week 2

January 12

Hacking and Tinkering As Method, part 1

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

“Critical Making: Conceptual and Material Studies in Technology and Social Life”, Ratto

“Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture”, Jenkins


January 14

Hacking and Tinkering As Method, part 2

“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

Week 3

January 19

No class, MLK day.


January 21

Project Work Day

Week 4

January 26

Interim Project Presentations


January 28

Interim Project Presentations

Week 5

February 2

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


February 4

Portfolio Review

Week 6

February 9

No Class – Interactivity


February 11

Final Project Presentations


February 13

Lab: Final Project Presentations

Week 7

February 16

Design Fiction As Method, part 1

“Design Fiction”, Bleeker

“Design Fiction”, Stirling

“The Rhetoric of the Image”, Barthes

Assignment: Design and document a prototype interface for a speculative product or service.


February 18

Design Fiction As Method, part 2

“Speculative Design: Crafting the Speculation”, Auger

“The Future is Now: Diegetic Prototypes & the Role of Popular Films in Generating Real-World Technological Development”, Kirby

Week 8

February 23

Design and Knowledge

“The Design Way” (chapter 1), Nelson and Stolterman

“Design for the Real World” (chapter 1), Papanek

“Sciences of the Artificial” (chapter 5), Simon


February 25

Project Work Day

Week 9

March 2

Interim Project Presentations


March 4

Interim Project Presentations

Week 10

March 9

Final Project Presentations


March 11

Final Project Presentations

Week 11

March 16

Spring Break. No Class.


March 18

Week 12

March 23

Reflective Design as Design Research Method, part 1

“Reflective Design”, Sengers, Boehner, David, and Kaye

“Autobiographical Design in HCI”, Nuestaedter and Sengers

Assignment: Identify and study a creative practice and propose designs / design guidelines in support of that creative practice


March 25

Reflective Fiction as Design Research Method, part 2

“Understanding Repair as a Creative Process of Everyday Design”, Maestri and Wakkary

“Spyn: Augmenting the creative and communicative potential of craft”, Rosner and Ryokai

“Reflections on Craft: Probing the process of everyday knitters”, Rosner and Ryokai

Week 13

March 30

Prototyping Practices.

In-class activity


April 1

Observational practices + Interim Project Presentations

Week 14

April 6

Observational practices + Interim Project Presentations


April 8

Project work day

Out on travel.

Week 15

April 13

Project work day.


April 15

Project work day.

Week 16

April 20

Final presentations.


April 22

Final presentations.

Week 17

April 27

Finals Week. No class




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.