Sample syllabus for Digital Design Theory seminar: Syllabus_DigitalDesignTheory


Helen Armstrong, North Carolina State University
Digital Design Theory


Week One

Themes: Bauhaus basics; Rule-based design methodologies; role of computer in design
methodology; Concrete Art; Bit International; design that bridges art with science; the search
for a computer aesthetic

Read: Ladislav Sutnar, “Visual Design in Action,” Digital Design Theory p.22.

Read: Max Bill, “Structure as Art? Art as Structure?” Digital Design Theory p.39.

Read: Karl Gerstner, “Programme as Computer Graphics,” “Programme as Movement,” “Programme as Squaring the Circle,” Digital Design Theory p.30.

Read: Bruno Munari, “Arte programmata.” (Arte cinetica. Opera moltiplicate. Opera aperta). Digital Design Theory p.28.

Read: Margit Rosen, “The Art of Programming”  A Little-Known Story about a Movement, a Magazine, and the Computer’s Arrival in Art: New Tendencies and Bit International, 1961–1973, (Cambridge: MIT, 2011).

Experiment: Design by Tweet

Week Two

Themes: How tools affect design methodologies; Algorithmic approach to art/design;  Serial Art; Emphasis on process rather than finished artifact

Read: “Algorithm” in Fuller, Matthew, Ed, Software Studies\A Lexicon (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2008).

Read: Wim Crouwel, “Type Design for the Computer Age,” Digital Design Theory p.42.

Read: Sol LeWitt, “Doing Wall Drawings,” Digital Design Theory p.48.

Read: Ben Fry and Casey Reas, “Processing . . . ,” Digital Design Theory p.98.

 Bartlett International Lecture Series: 2012-13 // Casey Reas

Experiment: Processing Exercise

Week Three

Themes: Codes as systems for communication; What happens to design when it is expressed
through code?

Read: Friedich Kittler, “Code” from Fuller, Matthew, Ed, Software Studies\A Lexicon (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2008).

Read: Charles Petzold, “Chapter One,” “Chapter Two,” “Chapter Three,” “Chapter Nine,”Code: The Hidden Language of  Computer Hardware and Software, (Microsoft Press, 2001). p.3-31; p.69-85.

Experiment: Coding exercise


Week Four

Themes: utopia; birth of personal computer; graphic user interface; object-oriented
programming, code

Watch: “9 Design Ideas that Shaped the Web”

Read: Ivan E. Sutherland, “The Ultimate Display,” Digital Design Theory p.36.

Watch: Sketchpad demo

Skim: “The Mother of All Demos”

Experiment: Code exercise

Week Five

Themes: birth of hacker culture; politics of programming; tinkering and mass making

Read: “The Hacker Manifesto” by The Mentor (first published in the underground hacker ezine Phrack, 1986).

Read: Turner, Fred, “Introduction,” from Counterculture to Cyberculture: Steward Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Uptopianism, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008).

Read: “Whole Earth Catalog Purpose and Function,” Digital Design Theory p.41.

Watch: Keren Elazari: “Hackers: The Internet’s Immune System”

Week Six

Themes: open source; participatory culture; peer production; social production

Skim: Cathedral and the Bazaar by Eric Steven Raymond. p.1-23.

Read: excerpt from Benkler, Yochai, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006). 

Watch: “Benkler: Makes the case for (capitalist) cooperation”

Read: Henry Jenkins, Mizuko Ito, Danah Boyd, “Chapter One: Defining Participatory Culture,” Participatory Culture in a Networked Era (Polity, 2015).

Week Seven

Themes: privacy; copyright; friendship; politics

Watch: Richard Stallman: “Why Open Source Misses the Point of Free Software”

Read: Lawrence Lessig, “Introduction,” Free Culture (London: Penguin, 2005).

Watch: Glenn Greenwald: “Why Privacy Matters” 

Watch: Edward Snowden: “Here’s how we take back the Internet”

Week Eight

Themes: community building; participation; user-generated content; networked culture

Read: David Gauntlett, “Conclusion,” Making is Connecting (2011).

Read: “What is Participatory Culture? and “Community” in Participate: Designing with User-Generated Content, (Princeton Architectural Press: 2011) p.11-27.

Experiment: Participatory exercise


Week Nine

Themes: interface background; computers and design; code literacy

Watch: “Alan’s Kay’s role in the development of personal computers: a graphic novel”

Read: Alan Kay, “User Interface: A Personal View,” Digital Design Theory p.75.

Read: Muriel Cooper, “Computers and Design,” Digital Design Theory p.64.

Read: April Greiman, “Does It Make Sense?” Digital Design Theory p.62.

Read: P. Scott Makela, “Redefining Display,” Digital Design Theory p.86.

Read: Hugh Dubberly, “Design in the Age of Biology: Shifting from a Mechanical-Object
Ethos to an Organic-Systems Ethos,” Digital Design Theory p.111.

Week Ten: Spring Break

Week Eleven

Themes: typography; digital craft

Read: Erik van Blokland and Just van Rossum, “Is Best Really Better,” Digital Design Theory p.82.

Read: Zuzana Licko and Rudy VanderLans, “Ambition/Fear,” Digital Design Theory p.72.

Revisit Wim Crouwel

Check out Liza

Week Twelve

Themes: Internet of Things; nanotechnology; networks

Read: Brenda Laurel, “Designed Animism,” Digital Design Theory p.122.

Read: Khoi Vinh, “Conversations with the Network,” Digital Design Theory p.126.

Read: Paola Antonelli, “Design and the Elastic Mind,” Digital Design Theory p.106.

Watch: Sebastian Thrun: Google’s Driverless Car

Experiment: IFTTT

Week Thirteen

Themes: Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality,

Watch: Chris Milk: How Virtual Reality Can Create the Ultimate Empathy Machine

Read “15 Ideas that Will Make You Reconsider Virtual Reality”:

Read: Interview with Kevin Kelly and Jaron Lanier

Read: VR is Still Broken

Experiment: VR Prototyping Workshop

Week Fourteen

Themes: AI; singularity; cyborgs; posthuman design

Read: Harken Faste: “Posthuman-Centered Design “Digital Design Theory p.134.

Watch: Ray Kurzweil: Get Ready for Hybrid Thinking 

Watch: Nick Bostrom: What Happens When our Computers Get Smarter Than We Are?

Week Fifteen

Class wrapup