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New Ecology of Things

Meets Tuesdays 2-6, South Campus in the NETLab, room 136

This studio immerses students in the design implications of The New Ecology of Things, an emerging environment of pervasive networks, embedded and embodied technologies, and a world where every object and space has a life of its own. Students will explore this new ecology by building working physical prototypes using sensors, effectors and computation.

Students will be challenged to craft new ecologies that embrace a heterogenous mix of objects and spaces, where interactions are adapted to the activity at hand rather than having a uniform “interface” that’s generalized for all activities. Projects will create an embodied relationship with these digitally enhanced things and activities, considering the entire context of design – communication, meaning making, systems, object form/function, physical environment and layout, affordance, interface, gesture, system behavior, and haptics.

For Spring 2012, we’ll be investigating how The New Ecology of Things can utilize the natural tendency of people to think of their surroundings as if they were animate – that is, objects and spaces have motivation, intention and/or consciousness. Furthermore, the projects will explore how this idea of animism plays out across a heterogeneous ecology, where objects and spaces have distinct “personalities” expressed through their behavior as they communicate and interact with one-another and with people.

Issues the class will explore include:

  • What are the benefits and problems of pervasive networks?
  • What are the tired cliches of ubiquitous computing and the “smart home”?
  • How do productive, mythological and embodied interactions play out in the New Ecology of Things?
  • What are the implications of having multiple, heterogeneous, networked objects and spaces, especially when used in concert for a single activity?
  • What kinds of animism are appropriate for different kinds of systems?
  • How useful are the various ideas of animism such as intention, motivation, consciousness, spirits, souls, and auras? How can they be applied?
  • What is designed behavior and how can it enhance interaction and communication?
  • How can kinetic behavior be used as a way to enhance the expression of the animism through physical motion? What other roles can motion play?

Major Projects

  1. Useless Networks – Due Week 4
  2. Ecologies of Animate Systems – Due Week 13

Course Objectives

  • Design and implement prototypes of networked ecologies, considering the concepts of The New Ecology of Things
  • Discuss a range of approaches to, and examples of animism
  • Discover new kinds of interactions
New Ecology of Things
Modified 2012-01-17
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New Ecology of Things
Modified 2012-01-24
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  • Present Project 1 Proposals
  • Working with remote sensors
  • What is NET, Part 2
New Ecology of Things
Modified 2012-01-31
11

New Ecology of Things
Modified 2012-01-11
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  • Present Useless Networks Projects
New Ecology of Things
Modified 2012-02-13
12

New Ecology of Things
Modified 2012-01-11
6

  • Present research
  • Present Animism Project Proposals
  • Post Research files on this page comments
New Ecology of Things
Modified 2012-01-11
0

  • Individual meetings
  • Work in class
New Ecology of Things
Modified 2012-01-11
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  • Present approach to animism, project sketches
New Ecology of Things
Modified 2012-01-11
0

  • Work in class
New Ecology of Things
Modified 2012-01-11
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  • Present prototype version 1
New Ecology of Things
Modified 2012-01-11
0

  • Individual meetings
  • Work in class
New Ecology of Things
Modified 2012-01-11
0

  • Present prototype, version 2
New Ecology of Things
Modified 2012-01-11
0

  • FINAL CRITIQUE: Ecologies of Animate Systems
New Ecology of Things
Modified 2012-01-11
0

  • NO CLASS