“Critical Technical Practice” offers a survey of theory and methods for students interested in questioning relationships between technology, culture, and the environment. The theory component focuses on how designed things (particularly technical things) influence and are influenced by cultural norms. It will also discuss how technology mediates our experiences in and of the world. The methods component focuses on how a design practice can be engaged as a means of re-thinking these norms. The objective of the course is to equip students with a introductory set of theory and methods for thinking more critically, creativity, and perhaps radically, about possible future human-technology relationships.
While the course takes its name from the concept developed by Phil Agre in relation to Artificial Intelligence, it extends beyond Agre’s framework to include a broader set of “critical” design methods that have gained prominence within the last decade. As such, design will be engaged a means of provoking discussion, ideas, and questions about technology and culture as opposed to finding the ideal solution for a well defined problem. We will focus more deeply on the processes of toying with, manipulating, and questioning technology as opposed to producing specific technological objects.
While several disciplines in the humanities and engineering engage critical practices, this courses focuses mostly on “design research” as it has been taken up within the broader field of human-computer interaction. The course is intended for graduate students and welcoming to advanced undergraduates who are interested in exploring design and research. Those who have an existing practice (art, craft, design, performance, engineering, etc.) involving technology might find the content particularly valuable. No programming or coding experience required.
Professor Laura Devendorf
ATLAS & Department of Information Science
Monday 2:00pm – 3:00pm
Thursday 11:00am – 12:00pm.
ALTAS 207a, Unstable Design Lab
Critical Technical Practice
ATLS 4529-002 / 5529-002
Meets Monday & Wednesday, 9:00am – 10:15am