Instructor:Nancy Hechinger


Alumni Roundtable

Zoe F.


Yuliya Parshina-Koltas

3D visualization!

Mike Clemow

Wild audio recordings and art freelancing!

Amy Khoshbin

Crazy video art!

Ted Hayes

Cooking with Sound!

Greg Dorsainville

Medical multimedia!

Teaching with tenure!


Tricia Wang

Global Tech Ethnographer

Tricia takes a researcher’s tools into underserved, and marginalized communities; uncovering what is behind the assumptions about how these groups use technology.  Her work has been very diverse.  She very clearly has a drive to do more than just earn a living.  I believe that a very important part of the ground work to be done in the eradication of poverty, and the protection of human rights globally, begins with research.   One must shine a light on the clandestine activities that lurk in the economic shadows of “globalization” writ large.  Finding out when, where, how, and why people fall through the cracks is a vital first step in creating real solutions.

I was hoping that Tricia would be able to answer my question about immigration versus the bargaining power or organized labor.  I think that it is easier to discuss the plight of  undocumented immigrants than it is to discuss what a rational immigration policy would look like.  Naturally the USA should immediately terminate policies that disrupt the economic stability of its Southern neighbors.  The drug prohibition policies in the USA in particular have empowered criminal organizations that have subverted the rule of law, and endangered the lives of everyday citizens.  That said, when a nation currently fails to provide adequately for all of  its own citizens, how can it expect to do a better job with even more people within it’s borders?


Kenyatta Cheese

“Learn through mistakes”


“Don’t appeal to super fans, they have very few friends”

It’s more fun to watch things with other viewers.

Looking at fan fiction, and fandoms.

Broadcast tv is flat, social networks are lumpy

I’m surprised Cheese did not mention the origin story of memes. Richard Dawkins coined the term to describe ideas being able to reproduce and spread not unlike living organisms. Currently the colloquial use of the term covers a wide range of simplified illustrations and messages that are shared over the internet.

I had forgotten just how cumbersome video encoding used to be.

He is right about the lab coats. I should buy a lab coat.


Robert Krulwich

Radio Lab Host and Curious Guy

I kept waiting for some kind of revelation with the gum story.  There is a black patina of gum near my subway stop and I am wondering even now if the good people at Wriggly’s chewing gum would like to lend out their gum erasing machines to the Borough of Queens.  The time perception thing was interesting but I think his best story is the Alligator B Flat tale.

I had to find out what that sounds like:


Anna Deavere Smith
actor, artist, playwright, professor

“Art is about taking a risk.”

“We live in the safehouses of identity.”

Her story about the lip service paid to empathy at the correctional institution was insightful.

I was very curious about her Pipeline Project and found this:


Ethan Zuckerman
Director, Center for Civic Media, MIT Media Lab

“The legislative process is grinding to a halt.”

First of all, I thought it was refreshing that Ethan shared with us his despair.  Often public speakers put on a brave face and push through what they are genuinely feeling in the moment.  The growing mistrust of government is something I have noticed over the course of my life.  In the age of free flowing information it has become very clear that governments act in ways that are often diametrically opposed to the good of the people.  Especially given how our system works in practice:

You read Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Naomi Klein, Gore Vidal, and others and you pretty quickly start to see how things really work.  Yet there are a great many things that government accomplishes well.  Libraries, parks, roads, bridges, commerce, transportation, medicare, social security, etc. etc.

Ethan captures the response to this duality with the institutionalists versus the insurrectionists.  He asks if insurrection can create real change.   Whether or not disruptive technology helps or harms.   Law, norms, markets, and code are the four areas where change can be accomplished.  Perhaps behavior modification through the tireless work of monitorial citizens is the key?

“Change the architecture.  Change the Code.”


This week was our group’s turn to present for Applications.  Xuhui, Gustavo, Wipawe, Melanie, and I collaborated to design a presentation,  and activity in response to Carter Emmart’s visual tour of the universe.

Here are some of the supporting documentation including the slides, questionnaire, and the full list of hypothetical planets:

Applications Slides


Exoplanet Life Form Data Activity

I will update when we have scans ready of the student drawings.

Student feedback was overwhelmingly positive for the presentation and the activity.  🙂

Ken Perlin

Professor of Computer Science NYU Media Research Lab

“VR is where the web browser was 20 years ago.”

I’ve used perlin noise in several media projects.  It’s charming to meet the man behind it.  Ken is working on what he calls the future of reality.   I thought that Ken had a very good reply to the kind of question I notice gets asked of disruptive technology (Are we ready for it?  Is it a good idea?  What about these other issues that are tangential to it?).  Once a technology is adopted we really take it for granted; we don’t think of it as being separated from daily life, it’s like a newspaper, or a toaster, or a watch.  It becomes part of the landscape.  Every innovation has had it’s moment of being the distrusted, perhaps-we-have-gone-too-far-this-time thing.

“Technology is not the answer, it’s a way of asking the same question in a different way.”


Today’s activity was a getting to know you “speed dating”, which was OK.  It was nice to be outside.

Carter Emmart

Director of Astrovisualization at the American Museum of Natural History’s Rose Center for Earth and Space planetarium

I love space, and stars, and planets, and galaxies.  Although I already know the lion’s share of the information being presented; the visuals are spectacular.  The navigation is silky smooth and Carter is a delightful guide.  Carter was kind enough to stick around for quite a while after his presentation to chat, and field questions.

I was very fascinated to learn that made a short video on the terraforming of Mars.

In case anyone was wondering; yes, he does have many barbie dolls in his office.



A lively debate was led by the presenters this week regarding the responsibility that designers have vis a vis the projects that they work on.  The case study is the Qatar Football Stadium designed by one of my favorite architects: Zaha Hadid.

I think that the corrupt FIFA officials, government officials, wealthy shareholders, and corporate heads who are actually responsible for the human suffering, human rights abuses, and loss of life in Qatar would be amused that we are fixating on the culpability of the designer.  The question was put forward: “Can a designer be financially successful and make ethical choices?” to which I would like to point out that a designer can be completely absent of ethics and still be a financial failure.  For projects as large as a stadium there is a long line of architects that would take the project.  If anything I think the fact that Zaha Hadid took the project helped to draw more attention to the human rights abuses that were otherwise being ignored.

Today’s guest lecturer was the founder of the MIT Media Lab:

Professor Nicholas Negroponte

“Get weirder!”

“Screw the business model!”

“Will normal market forces do it?  Yes?  Then stop!”

Started in architecture at MIT.  ARPA came about because the USA felt is was falling behind the USSR after Sputnik.  In 1967 ARPA wanted to have a virtual replication of every city and airport in the world for security purposes.  It was like street view with video discs.  Architecture Machine Group got noticed by the president of the university.  The Media Lab came about because the president wanted a lab to do his research.  Few constraints.

Work with one child one computer.  Access to the internet is a human right.  Make the internet a civic thing.  The value of apprenticeships.  Solve big problems.



In class today we had an exercise where the students were grouped together with the task of creating a drawing response to David Sassoon’s presentation.  My group took it a bit tongue in cheek, the panels were all over the place, I drew a polar bear on a melting iceberg.  What I took away from the first group’s presentation was the difficulty in marshalling a cohesive response to an agreed upon problem.  Environmental movements in particular are susceptible to fragmentation in my opinion.  Even with groups of like-minded individuals, with the best intentions at heart, focus dissolves as each member gravitates towards their prefered angle, solution, strategy, or pet cause within a cause.  Environmental issues are so holistic and multifold, it can be very difficult to gain a full picture of the current situation, much less a straightforward fix.  The second group addressed the issue of plastic in the oceans; an issue that I am very familiar with.  They also worked the angle of information authenticity, sourcing and how the source of information might influence how someone receives it.

I declined to mention it in class (don’t want to hog the mic) but I actually met this man on and his crew of researchers on his boat in Honolulu several years ago:


His name is Charles Moore and he discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch back in 1997.  His boat is a floating museum of sorts, festooned with odd bits of flotsam collected from the GPGP over the years.  I had read about the GPGP previously; but to see the stuff in person, to see the pictures, and to talk to the people who have been there is another thing altogether.

Sigi Moesligner

Partner and co-founder at Antena Design

“When something looks like something, people use it like that something.”

Sigi’s design resume is VERY impressive.  MTA, Bloomberg, McDonald’s,  LinkNYC, etc. is a hard resume to beat.  As someone who has been using the subway to commute to ITP from Queens, I have come to appreciate the considerations made in the design of the MTA subway cars, and the MTA card vending machines.  I was not surprised to learn that a large part of the design process was concerned with combatting vandalism, heavy use, and downright abuse.  I had wondered why the card machines were so bulky, turns out the cash collecting components require a lot of space!  The newer cars that she helped design are so much more pleasant to ride in than the older cars.  The led signage that shows upcoming stops is particularly appreciated.  The floor plan is more open and the seats are much more comfortable, in spite of their hard plastic material.  Hopefully NYC will catch up to London someday and we can enjoy upholstered seating?  At the very least I hope to see more of the next train arrival countdown led signage (Sweden had this at every stop back over 15 years ago!)    I think that Sigi and Antenna do a very good job by their clients, and manage to create some pleasing forms in the process.  A lot of her work fits with the broken windows social theory.

I’ll have to look into the “City Beautiful Movement” that she mentioned during Q and A.


Both group presentations were focussed mainly around identifying our passions and sharing them with each other.  Also addressed was the commonality of feeling overwhelmed, competitive, and/or hung over.

David Sassoon

Founder and publisher of Inside Climate News

“How do we manufacture knowledge?”

“What is technology for?”

Between 2007 and 2010 tens of thousands of journalists lost their jobs, and hundreds of newspapers closed.  Mostly due to the ascendence, and eventual dominance of the internet. David very clearly articulated why it is that news journalism has changed as much as it has in the preceding decades.  For a long time now we have read about how the news used to be much more objective, fair handed, and dignified.  Whereas today the news landscape is dominated by infotainment, opinion masquerading as news, and outright propaganda.  The key word here is: monopoly.  Until fairly recently newspapers held an effective monopoly on advertising.  There simply was nowhere else for advertisers to go; even if they disagreed with what the newspapers wrote.  This monopoly created a great deal of freedom for journalists to do real reporting.  Once that monopoly was broken, advertisers gained the upper hand, and started to dictate what was off limits.  Write a piece critical of a business, and you would lose that businesses’ advertising revenue.  Write a flattering puff piece, and you might see an uptick in ad revenue.

Enter Inside Climate News, a non-profit, philanthropist funded news blog focusing on environmental issues.  Without the pressure of having to produce revenue from advertisers, this little blog that could not only pissed off the Koch brothers (a good sign that you are doing good in the world) and managed to win a pulitzer prize.  The reporting is very good and very important.  Yet, it is a sad and sobering thought that this news organization can only do this important work because of charitable donations and they are dwarfed by entities like News Corp in audience numbers and impact.
So the question comes up: how can people believe climate change is a fraud with so many factual sources available to them in the internet age?  Propaganda is only part of the equation.  The sad fact is that there is a significant portion of the US population that don’t want to believe that climate change is real and they will seek out information that confirms their belief that it is a hoax, a fraud, a sham.  This dovetails very neatly with the corporate interests who do not want their profit model interfered with, even if they themselves acknowledge the scientific reality of climate change internally (Exxon).  All of this leads into a longer and larger discussion of propaganda, public relations, media studies, Noam Chomsky, manufacturing consent, etc.


Group presentations concentrated on games.  One which had the goal of getting to bed, something I can definitely identify with.  The other one was essentially a memorization game.  Go around the circle and name your fellow students incrementally, with the list of names to remember getting longer as you get around the circle.  One of the disadvantages of having a unique name is that everyone remembers your name, whereas I have no less than ten friends named “Mike.”  My experience NYC task will be a pleasant one; I get to happily skip along my path to type two diabetes at Lady M confectionary.


My sincere thanks to my experience designer.

Our speaker for the day is Dennis Crowley, well known ITP alum, founder and CEO of Foursquare.  Travel to any city and feel like a local.  Foursquare is an interesting part of the phenomenon of self reporting in social media.  Announce your location, your activities and your interests to the world at large.  George Orwell imagined a dystopian world of super surveillance, and thought crime in his novel “1984”  wherein the state would actively collect data on citizens against their will.  Today many citizens actively report far more information voluntarily.  Dennis was very candid about how startups seldom see consistently steady upward growth.  Rather, it is a rocky roller coaster from iteration to iteration.  Dennis manages to keep the company’s mission statement in mind but has had to make some compromises to keep the business solvent.  Just as facebook has had to introduce advertising, foursquare has had to leave smaller retailers behind as it seeks to satiate investors.

Some quotes and ideas that stuck with me:

“Don’t get a job, make a job.” (I’ve kind of done this before)

“Everything that I’ve ever built was built on failure.”

“Software that makes you do things you would not otherwise do.”

“Build crazy stuff.”

“Ignore the naysayers.”


Group presentations.  The first presentation largely encourages ITP students to take advantage of the expertise, and help of their fellow students.  The second one is an exercise in which Majora Carter’s process is applied to solve a problem ITP students selected via internet poll; namely healthier food for students.  Our group’s idea was a indoor farm, commercial kitchen, and collaboration with the NYU Culinary School.  There was a also a “critique” of sorts to Majora’s presentation from last week.

Mitu Khandaker-Kokoris,

Assistant professor at the NYU Game Center.

“Play tells a story.”

“Play puts us at odds with ourselves.”

I was surprised that her favorite mainstream game at the moment is “FarCry4” I wonder if she has enjoyed playing Skyrim?

Mitu mentioned Inherent versus Acquired Diversity and I have attached the article that she referenced below:
From the Harvard Business Review, September 2015,How Diversity Can Drive Innovation
Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Melinda Marshall, Laura Sherbin
“Most managers accept that employers benefit from a diverse workforce, but the notion can be hard to prove or quantify, especially when it comes to measuring how diversity affects a firm’s ability to innovate.

But new research provides compelling evidence that diversity unlocks innovation and drives market growth—a finding that should intensify efforts to ensure that executive ranks both embody and embrace the power of differences.

In this research, which rests on a nationally representative survey of 1,800 professionals, 40 case studies, and numerous focus groups and interviews, we scrutinized two kinds of diversity: inherent and acquired. Inherent diversity involves traits you are born with, such as gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Acquired diversity involves traits you gain from experience: Working in another country can help you appreciate cultural differences, for example, while selling to female consumers can give you gender smarts. We refer to companies whose leaders exhibit at least three inherent and three acquired diversity traits as having two-dimensional diversity.”

Apparently diversity has an economic advantage.


Applications.  Introduction to the format of the class.

The assignments:

1. Presentation

2. Explore NYC

3. InQuest

Resources at our disposal as NYU students.  A plethora of inspirational fodder courtesy of Nancy.

Majora Carter

Her work is inspirational, and very important.  She is very candid about the necessity of shaping proposals to attract angel investors.  It is a bit of an “Aha” moment to realize that these programs aimed at ultimately addressing social ills, must at some level engage in marketing.  Her discussion of the shortcomings of the urban farming initiative were very interesting.  Everyone in the room seemed a bit surprised that it did not take off.  While it may still be a great idea, Majora made it clear that the underlying goal of increasing employment was simply not worth the initial investment.  The game testing project was also inspired, and it is very good to see it succeed financially.  One hopes that the transition from consumer to producer is realized further down the road as the young people involved in the project begin to produce their own IP.

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