Spring 1998    MAS.962 Special Topics in Media Technology:


The Virtual Society: Identity, Interaction and Interface Design

Professor Judith Donath

Tuesdays, 11-1pm
Rm. 095.
Level: Grad
Units: 12
Permission of instructor required



This course will examine how virtual societies evolve, looking in particular at the role played by system- and interface-design. Topics include how identity and reputation are established, approaches to graphical representations of people, and techniques for visualizing social structures. Assignments include weekly readings, design sketches, critiques of existing systems and a final design project.


Reading list
Preliminary schedule

02.03 Introduction: designing environments for social interaction

02.10 Conversational interfaces and social interaction
Assignment: readings

02.24 Text-based conversation: news, mail, and MUDs
Guest speaker: Stacy Horn, founder of
Echo NYC
Assignment: newsgroup analysis

03.03 Graphical conversations, part I
Guest speaker: Chris Edwards, designer
Assignment: preliminary design sketch

03.10 Graphical conversation, part II
Assignment: completed design sketch

03.17 Representing people
Assignment: readings

03.31 Social visualization: sensing the virtual crowd
Assignment: design sketch

04.07 On-line self-portraits: the culture of home pages
Assignment: site/reading critique

04.14 Final project preview

04.28 Identity (and anonymity) on-line
Assignment: readings

05.05 Augmented spaces: virtual interactions in real world spaces
Selected readings

05.12 Final project review