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Design for Empowerment

Basic Info

Leah Buechley (leah at media.mit.edu)
Office: E14-548L, MIT Media Lab
Office hours: by appointment
Web: http://web.media.mit.edu/~leah/

MAS 961, Design for Empowerment
Time: Tuesdays 4-6pm, Fridays 1-2pm
Location: E14-493, MIT Media Lab

Technology is increasingly shaped and developed by everyday people who design, build, and hack their own devices, and the goal of this class is to understand, contribute to, and support these creative communities. We will focus on tools that enable non-experts to design and build computational and electronic artifacts. Along the way we will investigate software toolkits, hardware toolkits, open-source technologies, fabrication processes, and new manufacturing and distribution models.

Lively and engaged participation in all aspects of the class is expected. You should complete assigned readings before class. Discussions should engage your full attention, and the use of laptops and phones during class is prohibited. Because this is a reading and discussion based class, regular attendance is essential.

In addition to weekly reading assignments, there will be three written assignments over the course of the semester: a short essay, a literature review, and a final paper and presentation. Each student will also lead one of the in class discussions and write a blog post to accompany that week’s reading. Due dates for these assignments are as follows:


    Class participation: 10%
    Short essay: 10%
    Discussion essay and session: 20%
    Literature review paper: 30%
    Final paper: 30%