Week 1: August 29: Introductions & Course Overview



Week 2: September 5: Tubes & Wires, Cables & Waves

FIELD TRIP: Tour of “where the Internet lives” with Tubes author Andrew Blum. We’ll meet in the class for roughly an hour, then head downtown to meet Andrew at 195 Broadway (right around the south corner of the building [the original AT&T headquarters], on Dey Street) at 8:30pm, for a “spooky” nighttime infrastructure walk. In case inclement weather or babies (Andrew and his wife are expecting) foil(s) our plans, we’ll reschedule for 9/19.


  • Kate Ascher, “CommunicationsThe Works: Anatomy of a City (New York: Penguin, 2005): 122-147.
  • Andrew Blum, Excerpt from Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet (New York: Ecco, 2012): 105-146.
  • Shannon Mattern, “Puffs of Air: Communicating by Vacuum” In John Knechtel, Ed., Air (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010): 42-56.
  • Shannon Mattern, “Infrastructural TourismWords In Space [blog post] (20 July 2012).

UPDATE: Our tour guide had a baby! (well, technically, his wife did) So, our Internet Tour has been rescheduled for 9/19. We’ll swap in the activity originally planned for 9/19: In-class group critiques of multimodal projects – likely to include examples from Vectors, Kairos, Sensate

Week 3: September 12: Putting the Urban into Media Archaeology

GUESTS: Fall 2011 UMA Students Farah Momin (“Independent Bookstores: Past & Present”) & Danielle Fichera (“The History of Artists & Art Production in Soho”) visit to discuss both the front end and behind-the-scenes — e.g., record types, fields, etc. — of their projects)



Week 4: September 19: Digital Humanities & Assessment Rubrics


[Moved to 9/5] IN-CLASS CRITIQUE: Group critiques of multimodal projects, TBD – likely to include examples from Vectors, Kairos, Sensate

UPDATE: Rescheduled Internet Tour w/ Andrew Blum @ 8:30pm




Week 5: October 3: Research Approaches

ACTIVITY: Presentations of Project Proposals



Week 6: October 1o: Mapping Along X, Y, and Z Axes

URT: Creating Your Subprojects

FILM: Charles and Ray Eames, Powers of Ten


  • James Corner, Excerpts (Intro, “The Agency of Mapping,” “Maps and Reality” & “Mapping Operations”) from “The Agency of Mapping: Speculation, Critique and Invention” In Denis Cosgrove, Ed., Mappings (London: Reaktion, 1999): 213-217, 221-225, 229-231.
  • Jeremy W. Crampton and John Krygier, “An Introduction to Critical CartographyACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies 4:1 (2006): 11-33.
  • David Bodenhamer, “The Potential of the Spatial Humanities” In David J. Bodenhamer, John Corrigan and Trevor M. Harris, Eds., The Spatial Humanities: GIS and the Future of Humanities Scholarship (Bloomington, IN: University of Indiana Press, 2010): 14-29.
  • Jeanne Haffner, “Things Visible and Invisible” Architecture Boston (Winter 2009): 34-41.
  • Scan through some of my other bookmarked sites on mapping

IN-CLASS CRITIQUE: HyperCities + Stanford Spatial History Project


The second half of the semester is dedicated primarily to (1) map critiques, (2) self-directed reading and research, and (3) hands-on work. We may need to make changes to the syllabus so our in-class time can best support your individual and collaborative work. I ask that you please be flexible and responsive.


Please note that, in order to accommodate our guest on 10/24, we’ve flipped our original plans for Weeks 7+8. What follows represents the revised schedule:

Week 7: October 17: URT: Spatialized Data Modeling

MAP CRITIQUES: Student Presentations

ACTIVITY: We’ll collaboratively data model our field trip w/ Andrew Blum.


  • Excerpts from Raghu Ramakrishnan and Johannes Gehrke, Database Management Systems, 2nd Ed. (McGraw Hill, 2003). [Remember: you’re reading not to develop expertise — some of this might be difficult to digest — but to familiarize yourself with some of the key terms, and to help you begin to “think like a database.”]
  • Data Modeling,” Wikipedia
  • Johanna Drucker & Bethany Nowviskie, Read Section A, [Skim B/C], Read D/E/F In “Temporal Modeling: Conceptualization and Visualization of Temporal Relations for Humanities Scholarship” Temporal Modeling Project Report, University of Virginia (probably early 2000s): 1-3, [3-11], 11-17. [This report’s probably close to ten years old, and it focuses on a design problem that’s rather different than our own – but it models how you might think through the translation of theoretical concepts central to your own project into (carto)graphic design, and how to reconceive your conceptual model as a data model.]


Week 8: October 24: Mapping Platforms, Aesthetics & Politics

MAP CRITIQUES: Robin + Louis

GUEST: Lize Mogel, interdiscplinary artist working between art + cartography; co-editor of An Atlas of Radical Cartography


We may not discuss the following, but they’re still worth your time!

URT (if time allows; if not, we’ll push this back until 11/7): Plotting Points, Lines, and Areas


Week 9: October 31: No Class: Hurricane Sandy

Please note that, since we missed class on 10/31 and had to reshuffled our map critiques, I’ve updated the schedule for the following weeks and flipped our Nov. 14 and Nov. 20 activities.


Week 10: November 7: Pecha Kucha & Conceptual Design Feedback

PREP: PECHA KUCHA: Learn about PechaKuchas here. See also Olivia Mitchell’s “Five Presentation Tips for Pecha Kucha or Ignite PresentationSpeaking About Presenting [blog post], and check out some videos of Ignite presentations. As you’ll see, PechaKucha presentations typically involve presentations consisting of 20 slides, with 20 seconds dedicated to each. In the interest of time, we’re going to limit our presentations to 12 slides at 20 seconds each.

GUEST CRITICS: Anne Balsamo, Dean of the School of Media; Jane Pirone, Parsons Design & Technology; Alexandra Kelly, UMA and Media Studies Alum


Week 11: November 14: Cartographic Arguments

MAP CRITIQUES: Andrea, Miranda + Brian

URT: Plotting Points, Lines & Areas

ACTIVITY: We’ll consider various strategies for making an argument or telling a story on a map, using a variety of modalities. Then, drawing again on our beginning-of-semester field trip, we’ll collaboratively consider how we might create a variety of cartographic arguments for “where the Internet lives.”


In the Weeks Immediately Before and After Thanksgiving: INDIVIDUAL MEETINGS: Sign up for an individual meeting to review your research dossier and draft map. Depending on how much time you think you’ll need, you’re welcome to claim one or two of my 20-minute advising slots.


Please note that because of the crazy university holiday schedule, our Week 12 class meets on a TUESDAY

Week 12: November 20: User Scenarios & Paper Prototyping + Networking Nodes

MAP CRITIQUES: Shiran + Julian

ACTIVITY: We’ll gather into small “affinity groups,” individually develop paper prototypes of our projects, then share them within our groups and solicit feedback. In the process, we’ll aim to identify possible connections between our own projects and our classmates’, as well as projects from previous semesters, and consider what we might learn by layering or networking these projects on the map — and what modes of presentation can help us to convey these larger, multi-project arguments.

READING/SCREENINGS [Note: These are all short (1-2-pp.) guides to help you prepare for our in-class prototyping activity.]

PREP FOR CLASS: Think about what major arguments you hope to make through your project, or what stories you hope to tell. How could users navigate through your finished project (yes, this involves some projection into the future!) and come away having comprehended your argument or story, and achieved your desired user experience? Now, write or sketch two or three brief user scenarios that tell the story of how different users might navigate through your project to achieve a particular goal (these scenarios are primarily for you — so they needn’t be terribly formal). Finally, consider how you’d actualize that scenario on a paper prototype – a prototype not of the overall URT interface, but of a user’s concrete interaction with your particular project. We’ll be constructing our prototypes in class – e.g., using yarn to represent paths, scraps of paper to represent photos or other media – but if you have a particular preference for how you’d like to materially prototype your project on a paper map, you’re welcome to bring your own “crafty” materials. Plus, if your project will likely focus on a tightly delimited area (e.g., a single neighborhood, or a single street), you might want to print out a large-format “base map” on which you can create your prototype. (Here’s info on how to print on multiple sheets; you can then “tile” these sheets — I’d recommend 3×3 — and tape them together.)


Week 13: November 28: Tech Workshops as Needed and/or Independent/Group Work

GUEST [Skype]: Eric Rodenbeck, CEO of Stamen Design — We’ll meet for the first hour or so in room 1618 @ 79 5th Ave., where we can take advantage of the “big screens” for our Skype conversation (take the elevator up to 16; the room’s almost directly across from you when you enter the lobby). Then we’ll return to the classroom for our tech workshops.

MAP CRITIQUE: Mert + Christine



Week 14: December 5: Independent/Group Work & Individual Consultations

SHANNON AWAY IN SWEDEN (Please make sure to concretize the conceptual elements of your project before Shannon leaves on 12/3, because she won’t be available for consultation that week. Rory, however, will be available in class for consultation on technical issues.)


Week 15: December 12: Final Map Presentations

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