MAS 963: Designing Sociable Media

Instructor: Judith Donath

Fall, 2003
Wednesday 10-12 in E15-468s
Graduate level 12 Units
Permission of instructor required
Course assistant Linda Carpenter

This course is about social life in the on-line world. Its focus is on how the design of the interface influences people's interactions with each other and shapes the cultural mores and structures they develop. We will examine the ways social cues are communicated in the real and the virtual world, discuss the limits imposed upon on-line communities by their mediated nature, and explore directions that virtual societies can take that are impossible for physical ones.

Readings range from classic papers in cognitive science, anthropology and urban studies to recent studies in the sociology of online communities. Design projects include new uses for mobile devices, visualizations of social structures, and novel interfaces for mediated conversations.


09.03 designing sociable media


09.10 identity

Assignment (due 9/8): critique, observation, sketch
Readings: Simmel, Holland & Skinner, Goffman

Identity is at the core of all social interactions. We care about how other's perceive us - and devote considerable energy (not always consciously) to conveying a particular identity. And, our perception of other's identity is an essential context for understanding their words and actions.

09.17 abstract representations

Assignment (due 9/15)

09.24 the face

Assignment (due 9/23)

09.17 fashion and deception

Assignment (due 9/29)

10.01 portraits

Assignment (due 10/07)


10.08 social networks

Assignment (due 10/14)

10.15 reputation / dating

Assignment (due 10/21)

10.29 public conversation

Assignment (due 10/28)

11.12 · visualizing discussions

Assignment (due 11/11)

11.19 · email

Assignment (due 11/18)

11.26 · Final project proposals

Assignment (due 11/25)

12.03 the home and public spaces

Assignment (due 12/02)

12.10 · pervasive/mobile/ubiquitous sociability

Assignment (for 12/09)


12.17 final presentations

Assignment (due 12/16)