The Spring courses to which I have been assigned are as follows:
- Design for UNICEF (Thur 09:30am to 12:00pm — Clay Shirky)
UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) takes on issues affecting the health, well-being and opportunities of children and youth around the world. Increasingly, this includes creating and managing novel communications tools, from online forums for youth journalism or story-telling to support for youth AIDS activists. It also includes physical design challenges like designing off-the-grid communications infrastructure. (A list of relevant projects can be found at Mepemepe.com) In this class, students examine some of the design challenges UNICEF faces, and will work in groups to research and prototype possible extensions to existing efforts. The first third of the semester involves understanding the goals and constraints of various UNICEF projects, the middle third involves each workgroup selecting and developing a prototype project, and the final third involves soliciting user feedback and professional critique of that prototype. The class includes site visits and project crits from UNICEF technologists and field workers, and culminates in final presentations to members of the UNICEF staff
- Programming from A to Z (Tues 09:30am to 12:00pm — Adam Parrish)
This course focuses on programming strategies and techniques behind procedural analysis and generation of text-based data. We’ll explore topics ranging from evaluating text according to its statistical properties to the automated production of text with probabilistic methods. Using real world data sets we’ll build examples of document classifiers, recommendation engines, and language generators. Examples are demonstrated using Java, Processing, and PHP with a focus on advanced data structures (linked lists, hash tables, binary trees) associated with storing and manipulating data. Prerequisite: H79.2233 Introduction to Computational Media or equivalent programming experience.
- Little Computers (Tues 12:30pm to 3:00pm — David Nolen)
Apple sold the iPhone as a phone, but its buyers use it as a little computer. In no time, hackers cracked the phone and found it to be not much different than their OS X based laptops and desktops. The cute device runs a mature UNIX based operating system and it supports most of Apple’s object-oriented API, Cocoa. The class covers object oriented programming, C/Objective-C/Objective-C++, scripting languages, OS X internals, Interface Builder, and XCode. The Cocoa and Cocoa Touch APIs covered include: Quartz, OpenGL, Core Location, CFNetwork (wifi), as well open source frameworks such as GData (Google) and XMPPFramework (Jabber). Access to a Mac running OS X 10.5 is the minimum requirement, but having a real Cocoa Touch device like the iPhone or the iPod Touch to test on will make the class more enjoyable. The class is highly technical in nature and is geared to intermediate to advanced programmers, or /extremely/ dedicated beginners. That said, the goal of the course is to actively and creatively explore this new field of little computers using the iPhone as the main research platform.
- Mainstreaming Information (Mon 2:30pm to 5:25pm — Lisa Strausfeld / Christian Schmidt)
Information sources that have the power to impact our day-to-day lives on topics such as global and domestic politics, health, the economy, and the environment, are now readily available online. The best information design work is still primarily relegated to obscure journals and websites, and asks too much from the viewer. This workshop aims to bring information sources we all care about into the mainstream. Our goal is to explore how selective streams of information can be sited and expressed in a way that not only creates engagement on the part of the viewer, but inspires action. Students work on a two-part semester-long design project based on an information source of their choice. Basic programming or action-script skills are required. The class is conducted as a design studio with bi-monthly critiques. It includes seminar discussions and guest visits by experts in the design profession. All aspects of visual communication are addressed, with an emphasis on typography, layout, color, and motion. Students need not have any formal design training, but should come with a particular interest in and commitment to honing their design skills. Note: This course meets for 12 sessions beginning Monday, January 26.
The first three were the top three in the preferences that I listed, and the final course was fifth, so I am quite thrilled with what I got. I still plan to shop several other courses though, including 1’, 2’, 10’, When Strangers Meet (for which I am first on the wait list) and Digital Imaging: Reset (which have descriptions here).