DIG 401 Overview

Instructor Info

Dr. Mark Sample
Office: Chambers 3286
Office Hour: MW 3-4:30pm and by appointment

Course Overview

This seminar explores making, hacking, and remixing as creative and critical practices. In the process we will expand the conceptual domains of these terms. We will explore hacking and remixing across a range of forms, including games, art, software, and social media. The historical, ethical, and rhetorical dimensions of making, hacking, and remixing will also be considered as students design their own projects. No programming experience is required.

DIG 401 borrows from design-focused workshops in the studio arts. A typical task might involve algorithmically deforming a text, using existing code you adapt for your own purposes. Another activity might involve hacking a piece of software, not in the sense of breaking into the code of the program, but rather by making the software do something unexpected. You might also create something new by remixing public domain video and audio. Throughout all of these experiments, we will keep our eye on broader questions of play, creativity, craft, design, originality, and the so-called “hacker ethic.”

The nearly 3-hour long seminar format is ideal for such work. Roughly half of our in-class time will be devoted to hands-on practice, often working in small groups. The rest of class time will be devoted to more scholarly approaches to the social and cultural questions surrounding hacking, remixing, and design. We will make abundant use of Studio M—Davidson’s pilot makerspace—throughout the semester, even as we critique the ideology of making and design.

Enduring Concept

This course pairs experimentation and iterative design with a critical approach to technology. While there are many specific skills you will learn in the process (see below), there is an overarching concept that I hope endures in your mind long after the class is over. It is this: making can be a way of knowing.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the semester, students will be able to achieve the following:

  • Formulate distinctions between different modes of hacking and remixing
  • Situate contemporary hacking and remixing practices within a broader historical context of cultural appropriation
  • Control and update his or her own Web domain
  • Manipulate the code of open-source software projects
  • Design a digital work that adapts text, data, or procedural elements of existing works
  • Evaluate the ethical issues surrounding algorithmic-based design
  • Debate the impact of intellectual property considerations upon creativity