In Focus: The Interface Experience




Digital Media Lab


Kimon Keramidas

The last thirty years of computing have been defined by the ascendance of the personal computer, a device that has brought the power of computation out of laboratories and corporate technology centers and into the purview of the individual user. Those decades have seen major technological advances in both hardware and software, as computers have gotten smaller, faster, more powerful, and more complex in their capabilities. In fact, so much has happened so quickly, and its effect on everyday life so widespread, dramatic, and transformative, that we often forget how fundamentally our interactions with these machines have changed over time. This course will be the first of two where students will take part in the development of an exhibition, tentatively titled The Interface Experience, that addresses these issues. The exhibition aims to defamiliarize some of the most ubiquitous objects in the history of personal computing, in order to highlight the historical shifts in their design and to encourage visitors to reflect on how their interactions with the material objects of technology have come to define specific cultural moments. Readings will focus on the history of the objects to be exhibited, as well as the constellation of technologies, devices and innovations that surround them. Participants will perform exhibition-related research, refine the object checklist, and help develop innovative ways of conveying the informational history of these devices through digital publications, mobile apps, and exhibition design, including interactive elements. Indeed, the Focus gallery space is itself an interface, just like the historical objects we will study in this course. 3 credits.