Your Contributions

1. Attendance, Participation, + In-Class Lab Activities

We need you to show up on time, having completed the readings, and prepared to share your experience, expertise, interests, and ideas. We hope you’ll engage constructively and respectfully with your classmates. 

You will be permitted two excused absences (“excused” means that you must have contacted me prior to class to inform me of your absence) for the semester. Additional excused absences – and any unexcused absences – will negatively affect your grade. More than three absences, excused or unexcused, will result in failure of the course; if you anticipate needing to miss several classes, you are advised to drop the course. A pattern of late arrivals is likewise detrimental. Your consistent presence and regular, constructive contributions – including your participation in our in-class labs – account for 20% of your final grade.


2. Precedent Analysis

We’ll be exploring precedent projects throughout the semester, and you’ll be asked to review a whole bunch of examples for class on March 8. Each of you should choose one project – a kit, plan, performance, method, etc., that has some epistemological interest at its core (either featured in the readings for this week or inspired by the readings) – for analysis. Assess its (1) subject matter or purview; (2) its underlying epistemology and methodology; (3) how its format or mode of execution serves, or fails to serve, its purposes; and (4) its weaknesses or unexplored critical dimensions. Before class on March 8, please post your ~600-word analysis (with links and illustrations!) to our class website, and be prepared to share your work in a five-minute (max!) informal in-class presentation. Then, over the course of the next week, please review your classmates’ posts and offer thoughtful, substantial (at least a couple sentences!) responses to two.

Your precedent analysis and two follow-up comments account for 10% of your final grade.


3. Team Project Plan + Environmental Scan

Your team is responsible for submitting to Shannon, Jack, and Kate, by April 5 via Google Drive (Google Doc is preferable, so we can add margin comments), a 1500- 2000-word project plan and environmental scan addressing (most of!) the following:

  • * your design concept and the critical ideas informing your project
  • the various stakeholders in those critical concerns
  • the primary audiences / user groups for your “kit,” and its desired impact on each
  • * the “tone” of your project (realist, activist, speculative, functional, parodic – in other words: is it meant to work in the “real world,” or is it a utopian/dystopian/jokey thought experiment?)
  • * the format(s) / material properties of your “deliverable,” and how that/those format(s) serve(s) your larger goals
  • the environment(s) in which user groups will engage with your kit
  • * your kit’s functionality – or, how it will ideally work
  • * precedent projects (include multimedia documentation, if appropriate)
  • * relevant critical literature
  • * a tentative development plan + discussion of team members’ roles

These bullet points needn’t dictate the organization of your plan; you’re free to determine the structure of your document, so long as it addresses most of the above issues (particularly the *starred* ones) and any others that you regard as pertinent.

And please rest assured: you needn’t have everything figured out; one of the primary functions of this proposal is to afford you an opportunity to get feedback while you still have plenty of time to act on it. That said, it is in your best interest to have some concrete ideas and sense of coherence, so your colleagues can respond meaningfully and helpfully.  

Your team project plan and environmental scan account for 20% of your final grade.


4. Team Budget

We have a generous budget for this class, and a good portion of that budget will be allocated to individual groups for construction materials, equipment, tutorials, and other costs associated with the completion of your projects. Dirk Van Stee, NSPE’s Assistant Director for Budget and Operations, will visit our class on April 5 to discuss budgeting and purchasing policies and procedures (and to distribute declining-balance credit cards to each student).

Your team must then identify all projected costs associated with your final project and submit a budget to Shannon and Jack, via Google Drive, on or before April 12Your budget needn’t be exhaustive; we don’t need an itemized list (largely because you likely won’t know exactly what you need until you’re immersed in production!) — but you should at least identify anticipated expenses in a few categories: material supplies, independent contractors + other outsourced labor, research materials, etc. Team members are responsible for reconciling all expenses as they are incurred; you’ll find instructions here.

Your team budget accounts for 10% of your final grade.


5. Final Project

Each team will develop a “test kit” (broadly conceived!) composed of instruments, interfaces, tools, texts, etc., through which we could evaluate various forms of “urban intelligence.” Throughout the semester we’ll examine the myriad human and non-human intelligences that are built into our smart cities, and that have historically been built into our cities over the longue durée. We’ll also examine different approaches to operationalizing and evaluating intelligence, including scientific, administrative, designerly, and artistic approaches to monitoring and testing smart cities. Your challenge will be to choose an epistemological and methodological orientation and develop a “test kit” to evaluate – earnestly, speculatively, or parodically – certain place-based urban intelligences. 

Because our work will be featured in a special “urban interfaces” issue of MIT Press’s Leonardo Electronic Almanac, all teams will be responsible for submitting carefully edited and formatted documentation of their final projects. Specifications will be developed by our UI Graphic Design Consultant.

Final projects are due on May 10, and account for 30% of your final grade.


6. Team Assessment

By noon on Friday, May 12, each student must submit to Shannon, Jack, and Kate, via Google Drive, an informal 600- to 900 ~300-word evaluation of their team’s overall accomplishments and each team member’s individual contribution. Your assessment should include the following:

  • a super-brief restatement of what your team set out to accomplish and an evaluation of whether your team met those initial goals, or how your goals might have evolved over the course of the semester
  • a brief discussion of your group’s dynamic and work process, and how they might have evolved over the course of the semester
  • *a brief discussion of each team member’s contribution (including your own), including any challenges individual members might have presented
  • any additional big-picture reflections or minor details you’d like us to know.

Your team assessment accounts for 10% of your final grade.