# Jan 3, 2011

“In early 1997, Sokal came to the University of Illinois, and quite graciously offered to share the stage with me so that we could have a debate about the relation of postmodern philosophy to politics. It was there that I first unveiled my counterargument, namely, that the world really is divvied up into “brute fact” and “social fact,” just as philosopher John Searle says it is, but the distinction between brute fact and social fact is itself a social fact, not a brute fact, which is why the history of science is so interesting.”

Michael Bérubé for Democracy: A Journal of Ideas

# Dec 17, 2010

“Situated software isn’t a technological strategy so much as an attitude about closeness of fit between software and its group of users, and a refusal to embrace scale, generality or completeness as unqualified virtues. Seen in this light, the obsession with personalization of Web School software is an apology for the obvious truth — most web applications are impersonal by design, as they are built for a generic user. Allowing the user to customize the interface of a Web site might make it more useful, but it doesn’t make it any more personal than the ATM putting your name on the screen while it spits out your money.”

Shirky: Situated Software

# Dec 12, 2010

“An existing space may outlive its original purpose and the raison d’etre which determines its forms, functions, and structures; it may thus in a sense become vacant, and susceptible of being diverted, reappropriated and put to a use quite different from its initial one. A recent and well-known case of this was the reappropriation of the Halles Centrales, Paris’s former wholesale produce market, in 1969-71. For a brief period, the urban centre, designed to facilitate the distribution of food, was transformed into a gathering-place and a scene of permanent festival — in short, into a centre of play rather than of work — for the youth of Paris.”

Henri Lefebvre

“Change life! Change Society! These ideas lose completely their meaning without producing an appropriate space. A lesson to be learned from soviet constructivists from the 1920s and 30s, and of their failure, is that new social relations demand a new space, and vice-versa.”

Henri Lefebvre – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

“The question of what kind of city we want cannot be divorced from that of what kind of social ties, relationship to nature, lifestyles, technologies and aesthetic values we desire. The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city. It is, moreover, a common rather than an individual right since this transformation inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power to reshape the processes of urbanization. The freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is, I want to argue, one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights.”

New Left Review – David Harvey: The Right to the City

The Antikythera Mechanism in Lego

Filmmaker John Pavlus:

This is a 2000-year-old analog computing device reconstructed out of Lego. It predicts solar and lunar eclipses, accurate to within two hours — all using plastic gears. Andy Carol, its designer, builds mechanical computers out of Lego as a hobby. He made this device basically because Adam Rutherford, an editor and producer at Nature, dared him to. When Adam heard that Andy had actually built the device, he called me and said, “Well, clearly we have to make some sort of film about this thing now.” (small mammal)

# Dec 8, 2010

“In the Theatre of the Oppressed, though, theatre becomes a tool of empowerment. The boundary between actor and spectator is broken down. Spectators become active participants in the performance; instead of spectators, they become spect-actors. They can intervene in the play – suggest alternative acts for the actors to perform, or they can get onto stage themselves and act. Actors, on the other hand, become jokers – facilitators, encouraging spectators to become spect-actors, and acting out roles that spect-actors ask them to (Boal, 1974/1979).”

The Theatre of the Oppressed: A Biography of Augusto Boal

# Dec 6, 2010

“Milord runs his Mad Avenue Gallery, in which he displays wares. He is protected by a handful of rude footmen who seem to feel that this is the way Life will always be. At his beck and call is Sir Fretful Callous, a moderately well-informed high priest, who apparently despises the Flame he is supposed to tend and therefore prefers anything which titillates him. However, Milord needs his services, since he, poor thing, hasn’t the time or the energy to contribute more than his name and perhaps his dollars; getting information and finding out what’s going on are simply toooooo exhausting. So, well protected and advised, he goes blissfully through the streets in proper Louis XIV style.”

U B U W E B :: Dick Higgins on Intermedia

Exam Area III: Interaction Design for Social Media and Pervasive Computing

This post is a part of a series covering my qualifying exam research areas. Scroll to the bottom of this post for links to each area, or click here for a general description of the process.


As devices and platforms multiply, so too does the amount of metadata produced by individuals in the course of daily life. This metadata, generated and collected via disparate sources such as social networking profiles, web usage analytics, and physical sensor systems embedded in mobile devices and the built environment, provides interaction designers with rich real-time information flows that model and visualize user behavior.

Understanding how to create responsive and context-aware interactivity based on these dynamic data flows is an imperative for designers working in the field of social media and pervasive computing interaction design. Equally important is an investigation of how participatory activities and games – from social games to ambient alternate reality games to locative artworks to collaborative production games and more – can leverage social media and pervasive computing to exist “inside the flow” of their users’ lives, rather than as cordoned-off activities that necessitate a pause or “stepping out” from behavioral norms in order to access. Key readings draw from game design, particularly discussions around so-called “casual” asynchronous play systems (Fullerton, Juul, Salen and Zimmerman); mobile and locative interaction design (Böhlen and Frei, Ermi, Montola, Schell, Vinge); information architecture, pervasive computing, and the internet of things (Benford, Berners-Lee, Bleecker, Kay, Krueger, Montola, Nieuwdorp, Shirky, Sterling); and human-computer interaction design (Csikszentmihalyi, Kuniavsky, Thackara, Ramsey, Simon).


Benford, Steve et al. “Bridging the physical and the digital in pervasive gaming,” Communications of the ACM, 48 (3), 54-57, 2005.

Berners-Lee, Tim. “Linked Data – Design Issues.” http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/LinkedData.html

Bleecker, Julian, and Nicolas Nova. “A synchronicity: Design Fictions for Asynchronous Urban Computing.” Situated Technologies. http://www.situatedtechnologies.net/?q=node/102

Bogost, Ian. “Asynchronous Multiplay: Futures for Casual Multiplayer Experience.” http://www.bogost.com/writing/asynchronous_multiplay_futures.shtml

______. “Cow Clicker.” http://www.bogost.com/blog/cow_clicker_1.shtml

Böhlen, Marc, and Hans Frei. “MicroPublicPlaces.” Situated Technologies. http://www.situatedtechnologies.net/?q=node/104

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. 1st ed. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2008.

Dourish, Paul. “Embodied Interaction: Exploring the Foundations of a New Approach to HCI.” Xerox PARC, 1999. http://www.dourish.com/embodied/embodied99.pdf

______. Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction. MIT Press, 2001.

Ermi, Laura and Mayra, Frans. “Player-Centered Game Design: Experiences in Using Scenario Study to Inform Mobile Game Design.” Game Design Research Symposium, IT-University, 2004. http://www.gamestudies.org/0501/ermi_mayra/

Fullerton, Tracy. Game Design Workshop, Second Edition: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games. 2nd ed. Morgan Kaufman, 2008.

IGDA Casual Games SIG. 2008-2009 Casual Games White Paper. International Game Developers Association, 2009. http://archives.igda.org/casual/IGDA_Casual_Games_White_Paper_2008.pdf

Juul, Jesper. A Casual Revolution: Reinventing Video Games and Their Players. The MIT Press, 2009.

Kay, Alan and Goldberg, Adele. “Personal Dynamic Media,” The New Media Reader. MIT Press, 2003.

Korhonen, Hannu, Hannamari Saarenpää, and Janne Paavilainen. “Pervasive Mobile Games — A New Mindset for Players and Developers.” In Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Fun and Games, 21-32. Eindhoven, The Netherlands: Springer-Verlag, 2008.

Krueger, Myron W. “Responsive Environments,” in Wardrip-Fruin, Noah and Montfort, Nick (ed.) The New Media Reader. MIT Press, 2003.

Kuniavsky, Mike. Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner’s Guide to User Research. 1st ed. Morgan Kaufmann, 2003.

Montola, Markus, Jaakko Stenros, and Annika Waern. Pervasive Games: Theory and Design. Morgan Kaufmann, 2009.

Nieuwdorp, Eva. “The Pervasive Interface: Tracing the Magic Circle,” Proceedings of DiGRA Conference: Changing Views–Worlds in Play, 2005.

Ramsey, Jim. “Designing For Flow.” A List Apart, December 4, 2007. http://www.alistapart.com/articles/designingforflow/

Salen, Katie, and Eric Zimmerman. Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. Illustrated edition. The MIT Press, 2003.

Schell, Jesse. DICE 2010: Design Outside the Box, 2010. http://g4tv.com/videos/44277/dice-2010-design-outside-the-box-presentation/

Shirky, Clay. Letter. “Situated Software,” March 30, 2004. http://www.shirky.com/writings/situated_software.html

Simon, Nina. “Going Analog: Translating Virtual Learnings into Real Institutional Change.” In Archives & Museum Informatics: Museums and the Web 2009. Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, 2009.

Stein, Jennifer, Fisher, Scott, and Otto, Greg. “Connecting and Animating the Built Environment with the Internet of Things.” Internet of Things Workshop, 2010.

Sterling, Bruce. Shaping Things. The MIT Press, 2005.

Thackara, John, ed. Design After Modernism: Beyond the object. Gloucester: Thames and Hudson, 1988.

______. In the Bubble: Designing in a Complex World. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2005.

Vinge, Vernor. Rainbows End. Tor Books, 2007.

Qualifying Exam Areas

I’ve also written a brief post on the ongoing role that this website is playing in my research:

Finally, you can download the latest version of my exam area descriptions and bibliographies in .pdf form here.

Exam Area II: History and Theories of Participatory Culture and Art Practice

This post is a part of a series covering my qualifying exam research areas. Scroll to the bottom of this post for links to each area, or click here for a general description of the process.


The increasingly “device agnostic” Web constitutes a vast and rapidly evolving multi-modal metaplatform for collaboration, performance, and community-building. The radical reconfiguration of spatial, institutional, and social boundaries that has accompanied and guided the emergence of network technology and social media has brought with it an irreversible decentralization of the production and dissemination of knowledge and culture (Benkler, Von Hippel). The effects of these shifts are only beginning to be felt, with policy makers, educators, cultural theorists, and corporations scrambling to adjust to/capitalize on a broad class of new participatory media practices. But while the breadth and scope of media participation have been vastly increased by the core affordances of new media objects and the dawning ubiquity of network technologies, the defining practices of participatory culture have been with us since long before the birth of YouTube and Web 2.0 (Jenkins). From the amateur operators of the early days of radio (Douglas), to the feminist “vidding” subcultures of the 1970s and 80s (Coppa), our engagement with media has always been just that: engagement, and not pure consumption. Until recently, personal and academic uses of popular culture artifacts — remixing, fan fiction, filesharing — have been largely invisible to the corporate apparatus underwriting their original production; but as amateur creators and remixers have flooded to the Web to share and discuss their works, hitherto “private” practices have become public, much to the chagrin of those with a vested interest in upholding the kinds of scarcity and centralized authority required for the maintenance of the status quo (Lessig).

The present moment is a crucial one in this regard. A failure by policy makers to imaginatively engage with the affordances of the Web could restrict or roll back the transformative potentials promised by the advocates of openness, transparency, and collective intelligence (Levy, O’Reilly). To steer clear of this kind of disaster, it falls to the makers of media — from on- and offline amateurs to corporate department heads — to identify the ways in which new arrangements of cultural authority and economic power, particularly in the realms of intellectual property and knowledge production, might emerge in the context of distributed and procedural authorship. Toward this end, it is essential to develop an understanding of the motivations, pleasures, requirements, effects, and potentials of participation across a variety of domains.

Three closely-related fields of study inform this understanding. Readings from Fan Studies provide insights into the role of participatory culture in the articulation of identity and resistance, with particular focus on the ways in which fans and producers negotiate, co-create, and contest meanings within the hybrid spaces of canon and taste (Coppa, Fiske, Jenkins). Seminal ethnographic and critical perspectives from cultural studies and social science (De Certeau, Foucault, Goffman) extend these insights beyond fandom and into broader conversations concerning performativity and the uncertain ontological status of the author/viewer divide. Within this context, investigations of the shifting logics of cultural production, circulation, and reputation help to establish frameworks for understanding how new technologies — from amateur printing presses to Web 2.0 — can disrupt existing legal and industrial structures as they give rise to new modes of engagement (Benkler, Berners-Lee, Bruns, Douglas, Green, McPherson, Lessig). Finally, a traversal of the history of avant-garde participatory art practice reveals a range of theories, aesthetic systems, and process-oriented artworks whose legacy constitutes a deep and wide working-through of the myriad theoretical and practical challenges facing contemporary media makers invested in notions of the participatory (Bishop, Boal, Bourriaud, Kaprow, Knabb, Kester, O’Donnell, Ranciere).


Anderson, Steve. “Aporias of the Digital Avant Garde,” Digital Humanities Quarterly, Summer, 2007. http://digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/1/2/000011/000011.html

Baym, Nancy K. and Burnett, Robert. “Amateur Experts: International Fan Labor in Swedish Independent Music,” International Journal of Cultural Studies, 12(5): 1-17.

Benkler, Yochai. The wealth of networks : how social production transforms markets and freedom. Yale University Press, 2007.

Berners-Lee, Tim. “Long Live the Web: A Call for Continued Open Standards and Neutrality.” Scientific American. December, 2010.

Bishop, Claire. Participation. The MIT Press, 2006.

Boal, Augusto. Theatre of the Oppressed. Pluto Press, 2008.

Bourriaud, Nicolas. Relational Aesthetics. Les Presse du Reel, 1998.

boyd, danah. “Identity Production in a Networked Culture: Why Youth Heart MySpace.” American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2006.

Bruns, Axel. Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage. Peter Lang Publishing, 2008.

Coppa, Francesca. “Women, ‘Star Trek’ and the Early Development of Fannish Vidding,” Transformative Works and Cultures 1, 2008.

Darnton, Robert. “Readers Respond to Rousseau: The Fabrication of Romantic Sensibility,” The Great Cat Massacre And Other Episodes in French Cultural History. Basic Books, 2009.

Dena, Christy. “Emerging Participatory Culture Practices: Player-Created Tiers in Alternate Reality Games,” Convergence, February 2008. 41-58.

Diamond, Sara. “Participation, Flow, and the Redistribution of Authorship: The Challenges of Collaborative Exchange and New Media Curatorial Practice,” Museums and the Web. Banff Institute, 2005.

Douglas, Susan J. “Popular Culture and Populist Technology: The Amateur Operators, 1906-1912,” Inventing American Broadcasting, 1899-1922. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989.

Fiske, John. “The Cultural Economy of Fandom,” in Lewis, Lisa A. (ed.) The Adoring Audience: Fan Culture and Popular Media. Routledge, 1992.

Foucault, Michel. “What is an Author?” in Lodge, D. (ed) Modern Criticism and Theory: A Reader. Longman, 1988.

Galloway, Alexander and Thacker, Eugene. The Exploit. University of Minnesota Press, 2007.

Goffman, Erving. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Anchor Books, 1959.
Green, Joshua and Burgess, Jean. YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture. Polity, 2009.

Higgins, Dick. “Dick Higgins on Intermedia,” Something Else Newsletter #1. Something Else Press, 1965. http://www.ubu.com/papers/higgins_intermedia.html

Jenkins, Henry, Puroshotma, Ravi, Clinton, Katherine, Weigel, Margaret & Robison, Alice J. (2005). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century, available at http://www.newmedialiteracies.org/files/working/NMLWhitePaper.pdf. Retrieved on 1/22/2009.

______. “Nine Propositions Towards a Theory of YouTube,” Confessions of an Aca-Fan, 2006.

______. Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers: Media Consumers in a Digital Age. NYU Press, 2006.

Kaprow, Allan. “’Happenings’ in the New York Scene,” in Wardrip-Fruin, Noah and Montfort, Nick (ed.) The New Media Reader. MIT Press, 2003.

Kester, Grant. Conversation Pieces. University of California Press, 2004.

Lessig, Lawrence. Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. Penguin Press HC, The, 2008.

McGonigal, Jane. “Why I Love Bees: A Case Study in Collective Intelligence Gaming,” Ecologies of Play. Ed. Katie Salen. MIT Press, 2008. 199-228. http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1162/dmal.9780262693646.199

McPherson, Tara, ed. Digital Youth, Innovation, and the Unexpected. MIT Press, 2007.

O’Donnell, Darren. Social Acupuncture. Coach House, 2006.

Ranciere, Jacques. The Emancipated Spectator. Verso, 2009.

Qualifying Exam Areas

I’ve also written a brief post on the ongoing role that this website is playing in my research:

Finally, you can download the latest version of my exam area descriptions and bibliographies in .pdf form here.