Spring 2016

LMC 6650: Community Historians + Westside Speaks

Office: TSRB 316A
Office Hours: Fridays 9AM–11AM, or by appointment
Email: ledantec@gatech.edu

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

Course Description

This project studio will explore the design of interactive experiences that support capturing community narrative and supporting sense making for policy makers. We will design and develop new processes and computing infrastructure to support an on-going project with the City of Atlanta, the Westside Future Fund, the Atlanta Housing Authority, and supported by the Historic Westside Cultural Arts Council. The focus of the course will be on collecting community narratives around development and “community engagement.” We will explore digital collection practices as well as procedures for organizing, sharing, and contextualizing narratives so that policy makers and elected officials can better respond to community needs and desires. Studio output will explore narrative as data and data as rhetoric. We will work with community members directly to design interactive maps and visualizations that make the collected narratives legible to a range of professional and community audiences. This studio will focus on developing participatory design practices and will include substantial opportunities to work community partners to scope, co-develop, and test design ideas and working interfaces.

Students from any discipline are welcome to enroll.

Course Objectives

We will conduct a wide ranging review of literature in design research, human-computer interaction, and science and technology studies. We will examine existing products and systems in order to inform our exploration of sustainable civic and community engagement. This studio will provide a venue for exploring the cultural, social, and ethical implications of design and civic media through the lens of a community-driven, real-world project in partnership with the City of Atlanta and several other organizations located in Atlanta’s historic Westside.

This course is part of Georgia Tech’s Serve-Learn-Sustain (SLS) initiative, which provides students with opportunities inside and outside the classroom designed to help them combine their academic and career interests with their desire to improve the human condition, allowing them to help build healthier, more sustainable communities where people and nature thrive. More information about SLS can be found at www.serve-learn-sustain.gatech.edu. Visit the website to sign up for the SLS ListServ and find links to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter)

B.S. and M.S. Objectives

  • Demonstrate knowledge, comprehension, and application of the tools and formal design elements of digital media design.
  • Ability to explain, give examples of, and defend one’s use of formal digital media design terminology
  • Can design and create digital artifacts that create the experience of agency for the interactor.
  • Demonstrate use of digital media to create prototypes

Ph.D. Objectives

  • Students can identify, analyze, and effectively write about a domain within the field digital media and identify areas for original contribution as well as methods to pursue these contributions.
  • Students can formulate original interpretations and design original prototypes that reflect an understanding of the humanistic context of digital media.
  • Apply theoretical concepts to specific digital media works
  • 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


The total grade for the class will be based upon the following assignments (Please note that the MS grade is based on 100pts, the PhD is based on 150pts):

Participation 20pts
Design Project 60pts
Written Assignments 20pts
Research paper (PhD) 50pts


Participation & Attendance

Studio attendance and participation is mandatory. Participation in 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.

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

Readings & Texts

There are no required texts for this course, all readings will either be accessible via T-Square or online.

Design Project

The design project will be a group endeavor where you will be developing an interactive system in partnership with the a team from the City of Atlanta and other community partners. The broad goal of the project is to create technology that supports the collection and sharing of community narratives for use in structured workshops that will take place during the summer. The City of Atlanta is in the midst of a project supported by Living Cities to re-imagine how it conducts community engagement with the westside. The first step of the project is to collect narratives from community residents that reflect the history and current conditions of the area and highlight the successes and failures of development projects the City has executed and championed. These narratives will then be used in a series of workshops in late spring/early summer to help define new community engagement practices and processes that help support meaningful participation from disenfranchised citizens. The system we design will be used—and critical for—those visioning workshops.

The project will be somewhat fluid in the beginning as details and direction take shape through the multi-party collaboration, but once those details firm up, you will have a number of specific deliverables throughout the semester:

Public Project Introduction (Week 2)
We will host a public meeting in the Westside during week 2. The tentative date is Jan. 21 at 5pm. This meeting will be part project introduction, part working meeting with a diverse set of stakeholders.

Community Training Workshops (Week 3–5)
There will be three training workshops, tentatively scheduled weeks 3–5. We will collectively develop training material to guide community members through learning how to conduct interviews with fellow residents. These interviews will focus on the oral history of the westside, the current development context, and efficacy and consequences of the City’s engagement processes.

The technique we will use is built on the experience of many years working with the Historic Westside Cultural Arts Council and we will be working directly with them to evolve our process to work at a larger scale.

Black History Month Celebration, (Week 6-7)
We will attend the Black History Month Celebration (Sunday, February 21) to further work with community members collecting stories, and to showcase some of the materials already collected. This will provide a venue for testing early prototypes for sharing content collected in the larger effort.

Story Aggregation/Tagging/Sense-making (Week 8)
Working with the project team from the City, you will design and develop prototypes for aggregating, tagging, and clipping the collected interviews (community narratives). This will likely include iterating on existing infrastructure (an Omeka archive), working with existing services (e.g. Mechanical Turk), and creating new interfaces that enable sense-making by community members and policy makers.

Prototype Test 1 (Week 11)
We will publicly test the prototype at public community meetings during week 11.

Prototype Test 2 (Week 13)
We will publicly test a substantial iteration of the prototype at public community meetings during week 13.

Final Presentation (Week 16)
You will present the final version of the system to members of the City and community at large and be prepared to hand off the system for full deployment during the summer.

Research Paper

Ph.D. students will participate in the design project and will additionally need to write a 10-page research paper (in the CHI format). More details about the research paper will be discussed in class.

Writing Assignments

You will write responses to the readings throughout the semester. Each written response will develop an argument about the readings – you may choose to focus on one article or connect several (including from previous weeks) – but the key here is that you are developing an argument about the topic and not simply reporting on the content.

The written assignments are worth 20pts of your grade, and to keep things simple, I use a straight point system: you need 20 points total to get maximum credit on the written assignments. Each assignent should be 500–1000 words and is worth a maximum of 3 points. There are 11 weeks of seminar, each is eligible for a written assignment, so you have ample opportunity to earn the 20 points.

Written assignments will be turned in as blog posts in T-Square and are due the 6pm the night before we discuss the reading in-class. I expect everyone to read and comment on reading posts prior to class.

Course Schedule

What follows is an outline for the semester. As the semester 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 11

Introduction to the studio and first day administrivia.

January 13


Fox, S., & Le Dantec, C. A. (2014). Community historians: scaffolding community engagement through culture and heritage (pp. 785–794). DIS ’14: Proceedings of the 2014 conference on Designing interactive systems,  ACM Request Permissions.

Hayes, G.R. The Relationship of Action Research to Human-Computer Interaction. ACM Trans. Comput.-Hum. Interact. 18, 3 (2011).

Le Dantec, C. A., & Fox, S. (2015). Strangers at the Gate: Gaining Access, Building Rapport, and Co-Constructing Community-Based Research (pp. 1348–1358). CSCW ’15: Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing,  ACM Request Permissions.

Atlanta Living Cities Documentation

Week 2

January 18

MLK Day, no class.

January 20


Vikki S. Katz and Keith N. Hampton (2016) Communication in City and Community: From the Chicago School to Digital Technology. American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 60(1) 3–7.

Lewis A. Friedland (2016) Networks in Place. American Behavioral Scientist 2016, Vol. 60(1) 24–42.

Keith N. Hampton (2016) Persistent and Pervasive Community: New Communication Technologies and the Future of Community. American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 60(1) 101–124.

Week 3

January 25

GT Talk

Michael Montoya, Student Center Theater

January 27


Carroll, J.M. Community computing as human-computer interaction. Behaviour & Information Technology. 20, (2001), 307–314.

McMillan, D. W., & Chavis, D. M. (1986). Sense of community: A definition and theory. Journal of Community.

Bennett, W. L., & Segerberg, A. (2012). The Logic of Connective Action. Information, Communication & Society, 15(5), 739–768.

Downey, J., & Fenton, N. (2003). New Media, Counter Publicity and the Public Sphere. New Media & Society, 5(2), 185–202.

Habermas, Jürgen. 1964 The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article.

Week 4

February 1


TOM_SLEE, Seeing Like a Geek

Winner, L. (1986). Do Artifacts Have Politics. The whale and the reactor: a search for limits in an age of high technology. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 19–39.

Joerges, B. (1999). Do Politics Have Artifacts? Social Studies of Science, 29(3), 411–431.

Site visit; review video categories/content

February 3


Week 5

February 8


Larsen, L., Harlan, S.L., Bolin, B., Hackett, E.J., Hope, D., Kirby, A., Nelson, A., Rex, T.R. and Wolf, S. 2012. Bonding and Bridging: Understanding the Relationship between Social Capital and Civic Action. Journal of Planning Education and Research. 24, 1 (Sep. 2012), 64–77.

Mandarano, L., Meenar, M. and Steins, C. 2010. Building Social Capital in the Digital Age of Civic Engagement. Journal of Planning Literature. 25, 2 (Nov. 2010), 123–135.

Quick, K.S. and Feldman, M.S. 2011. Distinguishing Participation and Inclusion. Journal of Planning Education and Research. 31, 3 (Sep. 2011), 271–290.

February 10


Week 6

February 15


Black History Month Celebration Prep

February 17


Black History Month Celebration Prep

Week 7

February 22


Lelieveldt, H. 2004. Helping Citizens Help Themselves Neighborhood Improvement Programs and the Impact of Social Networks, Trust, and Norms on Neighborhood-Oriented Forms of Participation. Urban Affairs Review. 39, 5 (May. 2004), 531–551.

Lievrouw, L.A. Oppositional and Activist New Media: Remediation, Reconfiguration, Participation. In PDC ’06: Proceedings of the ninth conference on Participatory design. ACM, (2006), 115–124.

February 24


Week 8

February 29


Carroll, J. (2004). Completing Design in Use: Closing the Appropriation Cycle. Presented at the Proceedings of the 12th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS 2004), Turku, Finland.

Selwyn, N. (2003). Apart from Technology: Understanding People's Non-Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Everyday Life. Technology in Society, 25(1), 99–116.

Sengers, P., Boehner, K., David, S., & Kaye, J. ‘. (2005). Reflective Design (pp. 49–58). Presented at the CC ’05: Proceedings of the 4th Decennial Conference on Critical Computing, New York, NY, USA: ACM.

March 2


Week 9

March 7


Marsden, G., Maunder, A., & Parker, M. (2008). People Are People, but Technology is Not Technology. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 366, 3795–3804.

Toyama, K. (2011). Technology as amplifier in international development (pp. 75–82). Presented at the Proceedings of the 2011 iConference, New York, NY, USA: ACM.

Cohen, K. R. (2005). Who We Talk About When We Talk About Users (pp. 9–30). Presented at the EPIC ’05: Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings, Blackwell Publishing.

Taylor, A. S. (2011). Out there (pp. 685–694). Presented at the Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference on Human factors in computing systems, New York, NY, USA: ACM.

March 9


Week 10

March 14


Shirky, C. 2008. –Collective Action and Institutional Challenges,– pp. 143–160 in Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. New York: Penguin.

Benkler, Y. 2006, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, New Haven: Yale University Press, pp 1–34.

Morozov, E. (2011). Why Kierkegaard Hates Slacktivism. In The net delusion : the dark side of internet freedom (1st ed.). New York: Public Affairs. Pp.179–204

March 16


Week 11

March 21

Spring Break

No class

March 22

Spring Break

No class

Week 12

March 28


Latour, B. Technology is society made durable. In A Sociology of monsters: Essays on power, technology, and domination, pages 103–131. Routledge, 1991.

Star, S. L. Power, technologies and the phenomenology of conventions: On being allergic to onions. In J. Law, editor, A Sociology of monsters: Essays on power, technology, and domination, number 0, pages 26–55. Routledge, 1991.

March 30


Week 13

April 4


Williams, A., Robles, E. and Dourish, P. 2009. Urbane-ing the City: Examinig and Refining the Assumptions Behind Urban Informatics. Handbook of Research on Urban Informatics. M. Foth, ed. Information Science Reference. 1–20.

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

Björgvinsson, E., Ehn, P., & Hillgren, P.-A. (2010). Participatory design and –democratizing innovation– (pp. 41–50). Presented at the PDC ’10: Proceedings of the 11th Biennial Participatory Design Conference, New York, NY, USA: ACM.

April 6


Demo Day Poster Crit.

Week 14

April 11


Demo Day Prep

April 13

No class. GVU Demo Day.

Week 15

April 18


April 20


Week 16

April 25

Final Presentations

April 27

Final Presentations

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.

Honor Code Statement

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