Thursday, January 31, 2013

My Spring 2013 at Parsons

This semester at Parsons, I have two things going on:

1) I'm teaching an undergrad / grad studio elective course.

Currents: Building Worlds was originally pitched as an "introduction to Unity" class, but then the administration said that Parsons never conducts purely "software" classes. They suggested teaching Unity through some sort of theoretical lens -- and the class design is probably much better for it. So now, it's kind of an intro to Unity / C# / working with expressive 3D / architectural theory class, and it argues for "3D" as a unique expressive medium in itself. There's also a strong focus on discussing "behaviors" theoretically, and how to combine simple behaviors to produce some sort of emergence... whether that's what constitutes a "world." I think I'll assign a chapter of 10 PRINT as a reading? (The "Currents" prefix is like a disclaimer -- "This course is an experiment. Take it at your own risk.")

2) I'm also a "consultant" / aide / "technologist" on another course, taught by Colleen Macklin / John Sharp / Heather Chaplin.

Datatoys is a collaborative class between journalists and design students to re-imagine journalism as a toy -- to turn data into interactive systems that demonstrate patterns of behavior. "Let's face it," began the journalism professor, "reading the New York Times is really boring. Print journalism is dying. Now, what is the journalism of the future?" What are the politics inherent in toys and play? How do we reconcile that with the ethics of journalism? If play is independent and unstructured, does that resemble how journalistic objectivity is independent? Can players act as journalists? How and when do toys lie?

The multidisciplinary nature of these two courses is what makes them conceptually strong and compelling, yet also very difficult to realize into actual designed things... But if they were easy, then they probably wouldn't be worth doing.