Guests and Field Trips
When possible, I bring in outside experts to further expand on the topics covered in class.
Nathan Shedroff, author of Make It So: Interaction Design Lessons from Science Fiction, an examination of science fiction interfaces and how they have influenced the design of many real technologies, from smart phones and touch screens to 3D interactive maps used by the military, has visited class and shared his insights on the topic. And Special Agent Nicholas Phirippidis from the FBI Cybercrime division came to talk to the students about his work in investigating Anonymous and the Dark Web, as well as how they can protect themselves online.
Being close to Silicon Valley presents us with a unique opportunity to see first-hand the things discussed in class. Every term, I take the students to the Computer History Museum and the Google campus. When the opportunity presents itself, we also add in other sites, such as touring the Tesla factory and visiting San Jose's Tech Museum of Innovation.
Reading and Media
Assessment for the course is based on active participation in course discussions and weekly reading assignments.
The reading includes dozens of online articles that give students a foundation of knowledge for the following week's class topic. Over the course of the term, students are also expected to read in its entirety Ernest Cline's Ready Player One.
Students also watch four feature-length movies during the term, which provide the foundation for several classes. Minority Report lets us discuss technologies that are either already here (such as the famous touch screen) or will soon be (personalized advertising everywhere.) Ex Machina gives us a chance to explore the philosophical issues around the inevitable creation of self-aware artificial intelligence. Citizenfour lets students hear Edward Snowden in his own words so that we can talk about him and the issues of the survellience state. And Her provides a counter-point to the possible future presented in Ready Player One for our final class discussion, "where do we go from here?"