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DSN 100 — Artful Design: How We Shape Technology and How Technology Shapes Us

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Oct 15—Nov 19
Time: 5:00—6:50 pm (PT)
Drop Deadline: Oct 17
Unit: 1
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $360
Instructor(s): Ge Wang
Status: Open
Please Note: Some of our refund deadlines have changed. See this course's drop deadline above and click here for the full policy.
Live Online(About Formats)
5:00—6:50 pm (PT)
Oct 15—Nov 19
6 weeks
Drop By
Oct 17
1 Unit
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Ge Wang
Please Note: Some of our refund deadlines have changed. See this course's drop deadline above and click here for the full policy.
At this point in history...our lives and freedom depend largely upon the skill and imagination and courage of our managers and engineers. —Kurt Vonnegut

What does it mean to shape technology artfully and ethically? How might we fashion products that lead to richer and more meaningful forms of life? In this course, we will unpack the role of design in human life and consider artful design, a multidisciplinary fusion of engineering, philosophy, ethics, and art. Rather than relying on a deficits model—in which we figure out what is missing and design physical and nonphysical objects to fill that need—artful design aims to fashion things that help us flourish, and flourish together.

Students will engage with lectures, readings, and case studies that break down the craft and philosophies of artful (as well as not-so-artful) design of everyday objects: tools (from toilets to smartphones to programming languages), toys (we'll examine a strange and playful pencil case), games (from video games to virtual reality), social media (what would a virtuous social tool look like?), musical instruments (such as Ocarina, a flute-like app for the iPhone), laws (yes, they can be artfully designed, too!), and artificial intelligence systems with humans in the loop. We will examine how these objects are designed and how they, in turn, shape our society and ourselves. Students will learn to more clearly and critically view our technology-drenched human world, and to exercise their ethical and artful imagination in search of a gentler one.

Ge Wang, Associate Professor of Music and, by courtesy, of Computer Science, Stanford

Ge Wang researches artful design of tools, toys, games, instruments, and social virtual reality experiences. He is the architect of the ChucK music programming language, director of the Stanford Laptop Orchestra, co-founder of Smule, and the designer of the Ocarina and Magic Piano apps for mobile phones. A 2016 Guggenheim Fellow, Wang is the author of Artful Design: Technology in Search of the Sublime.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Ge Wang, Artful Design: Technology in Search of the Sublime, 1st Edition (ISBN 978-1503600522)