LCC 6314 Design of Networked Media

Th 3:00 - 6:00 Skiles 002
Prof. Ian Bogost
Skiles 024
(404) 894-1160
Office Hours: by appointment

This seminar examines some of the many artifacts we loosely call "mobile devices" or "mobile technology," including phones, iPods, GPS, handheld game devices, and so forth. The course seeks to (a) explore the varing cultural contexts of apparently identical technology and (b) to interrogate the unique affordances of these devices in order to expose new design opportunities.

We will focus especially on the often unquestioned relationship between mobile technology and urban modernity, often characterized by the move from isolated community to large, city-bound societies. The goal of reproducing modernity through mobile tech is exacerbated in America by our relative lag behind Europe and Japan, densely urban societies which have more in common with each other than with America. We will pay special attention to the dissonance between technological determinism in mobile tech as a celebration and advancement of modernity. We will be especially interested in asking what uniquely "American" mobile applications are, or would be, like.

Students will produce five or more mobile design prototypes, complete one in-class presentation, participate in weekly seminar discussions, and complete one major, formal research paper. Design prototypes will be left open to the student's individual interests, but students are encouraged to complete one procedural prototype (with mobile processing), one voice-activated prototype (with VoiceXML), one TTS prototype (with Java toolkits to be provided), one camera- or computer-vision prototype (e.g., semacode or similar), and one open (wildcard) prototype. In addition to these prototypes, students are required to produce weekly design concepts to share.

Students are encouraged to bring additional readings and examples to class, and the one in-class content presentation may be based on a reading not included in the assigned list (please provide it to the class at least a week before).

The course will be conducted as a hybrid seminar/studio. Each week we will discuss the week's readings, cover the infrastructure and technology topics, and students will present and critique each other's work. Students are incouraged to prepare semi-formal presentations of their designs, including visual aids or digital/printed posters. Please note that not all of these presentations need be completed prototypes. Also note that overall presentation performance will factor into the final course grade; this is meant to give you more experience presenting your own work.

Course Requirements

Strive to do one design a week if possible. The five prototypes will be turned in by the end of the course; this should give you the freedom to try different approaches and potentially abandon a few. The course's many design workshops are meant to provide iterative design feedback. Designs should be prepared as webpages, PDF's, etc. and will be turned in on a course swiki (to be created).

Work will be graded based on two factors:

  1. Clear articulation of theoretical and creative goals (along with the plausibility of that interpretation)
  2. Sophistication and completeness in execution of (1)

Required Texts

The following books are available at the Engineers Bookstore or your favorite online bookstore.

Tentative Schedule

That means it will probably change as we mangle it. Artifacts/reading assignments may be altered each week as we progress.

  Topic Read/Do
Week 1
January 12

No class meeting this week

Week 2
January 19

Modernity, Postmodernity

Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity, Chapters 1 - 6
Jameson, Postmodernism, Chapters 1, 4

Week 3
January 26

America, the Rural, the Third World

Baudrillard, America
Lang, The Mobile Connection, Chapter 3
Africa: The Impact of Mobile Phones

Week 4
February 2

Cultural Contexts

Ito, "Discourses of Keitai in Japan" (handout)
Katz & Aakhus, eds, Perpetual Contact, chapters 2 - 9

Week 5
February 9

Voice and Synchrony

Fischer, A Social History of the Telephone to 1940
Lacoché et al, A social history of the mobile telephone with a view of its future
Lang, The Mobile Connection, Chapter 1
Shirky, Half the World

Week 6
February 16

Attend Living Game Worlds Symposium

Week 7
February 23


Mobile Processing
Overview of mobile game programming
J2ME Polish: tools, overview

Week 8
March 2

Mobility and Locality

Rheingold, Smart Mobs
Nelson et al, Quiet Calls
Okabe & Ito, Keitai in Public Transportation (handout)
Geocaching 1 2   2  
The work of Blast Theory

Week 9
March 9

Personal Data Access

Costikyan, Toward the True Mobile Game (summary, article to follow)
Lang, The Mobile Connection, Chapter 4
Shirky, It's Communication, Stupid
Applewhite, The BlackBerry Business

Week 10
March 16


Grinter, Eldridge, Design for the socially mobile: Wan2tlk?: everyday text messaging hugms
Lang, The Mobile Connection, Chapter 7
Bogost, Asynchronous Multiplay

Week 11
March 23

Spring Break

Week 12
March 30


Terrorism: 1  2  3 
Want et al., Bridging Physical and Virtual Worlds with Electronic Tags
Cheverst et al, Designing mobile interaction: Exploring bluetooth based mobile phone interaction with the hermes photo display
TTS (coming soon)
Bluetooth 1   2

Week 13
April 6

Cameras and Computer Vision

Kato et al, "Uses and Possibilities of the Keitai Camera" (handout)
Kindberg et al, I saw this and I thought of you
Gesture-based games (MTG lab)
Grinter, Words and Images

Week 14
April 13


History of the Nintendo Handheld
Handheld Museum
contents of The Escapist, issue 2
Electronic Plastic (book, reserved in EGL, do not remove)
A selection of handheld games (EGL) - Nintendo DS, GBA, PSP - especially consider WarioWare and Feel the Magic/Rub Rabbits
Gamespot reviews of PSP games, DS games, GBA games
Falk et al, Pirates: Proximity-Triggered Interaction in a Multi-Player Game
Sanneblad & Holmquist, Designing Collaborative Games on Handheld Computers

Week 15
April 20

Tactility and Surface

iPods around the world
Rosen, The Age of Egocasting
Wigdor & Balakrishnan, TiltText
Poupyrev et al, Ambient touch: designing tactile interfaces for handheld devices
Nintendo, WarioWare Twisted (EGL)
Nintendo, Yoshi Topsy-Turvy (EGL)
Chang & O'Sullivan, Audio-Haptic Feedback in Mobile Phones

Week 16
April 28


Personal Soundtracks
Podcasting 1   2   3   4  

Finals Week
May 1 - 5

Demo Day

Requisite syllabus fine print: All students are expected to abide by the Georgia Tech Honor Code. Any evidence of plagiarism or academic dishonesty of any form will result in a failing grade and the student being reported to the Office of Academic Integrity for disciplinary action.

Mobile technology ipod gps game handhelds phone telephony camera tty camera