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The Network Is The Machine: Web Technologies for People, Things and the Coming Singularity
Instructor: Jason Reizner
Credits: 6 ECTS, 4 SWS
Capacity: max. 15 students
Language: English
Date: Dienstag/Tuesday, 13:30-16:45

Location: Marienstr. 7b, Room 104

First Meeting: 18 October 2016, 13:30


Could the ubiquity of the contemporary web and its evolution from data transmission medium to universal infrastructure and interface for the interconnection of 'everything' presage what Kurzweil has titled 'the coming Singularity'? As the world enters what are possibly the waning years of human-machine plurality, there is still time to examine the technological and sociocultural phenomenon that is the world wide web, and its role not just in the production, mediation and dissemination of human information, knowledge and culture, but also its function in the gradual unification of all objects, devices and Things, great and small, into an all-encompassing rhizomatic machine that will eventually envelope all of humankind. This module will focus on the concept of Web of Things as a central platform, wherein the web itself is no longer just an application, but an environment for interaction (and possibly assimilation) between People and Things, such as data, devices and services. Participants will evaluate and employ contemporary strategies and methodologies for developing a web-connected device, object, installation, application or service.

Admission requirements

Concurrent enrollment in another IFD course offering, or with instructor permission.

Registration procedure

Registration for Winter Semester 2016/7 is now closed.


Successful completion of the course is dependent on regular attendance, active participation, completion of weekly assignments and delivery of a relevant semester project. Please refer to the Evaluation Rubric for more details.

Eligible participants

MFA Medienkunst/-gestaltung, MFA Media Art and Design, MSc MediaArchitecture

Syllabus (subject to change)

18 October 2016
Week 1
Course Organization
Administrative Housekeeping

Assignment: Read the introduction to Human Information Retrieval by Julian Warner

25 October 2016
Week 2
A Brief History of Human Information, Retrieval

Sources and Links from the Lecture

Assignment: Read the first chapter of Paper Machines: About Cards and Catalogs, 1548-1929 by Markus Krajewski

1 November 2016
Week 3
Paper: The first killer App

Sources and Links from the Lecture

Viewing: Please review the presentations from Marcus Krajewski and Lothar Müller that we were unable to play in class from the Paperbound: Cultural Imaginaries and Practices in the Epoch of Paper symposium at Transmediale 2013

Assignment: Read the first chapter of Post-Digital Print: The Mutation of Publishing since 1894 by Alessandro Ludovico
and create your Print-to-Digital or Digital-to-Print Transmutations

8 November 2016
Week 4
From Page to Wave: Information Dissemination in the 20th Century

Sources and Links from the Lecture

Viewing: Have a look at This is Marshall McLuhan: The Medium is the Message

Assignment: Read the first chapter of Gramophone, Film, Typewriter by Friedrich Kittler

15 November 2016
Week 5
Hands-On Introduction to Analog and Digital Electronics

Note: Class will be held today in the IFD E-Lab, Room 102

Sources and Links from the Lecture

22 November 2016
Week 6
The Emergence of Digital Information Systems
A Digital Infrastructure for Networked Culture

Sources and Links from the Lecture

Assignment: Finish preparing your Midterm Presentations and be prepared to discuss your project for 10-15 next week. For our meeting in two weeks, please review "Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism" by Jaron Lanier

29 November 2016
Week 7
Midterm Presentations

6 December 2016
Week 8
You are the Machine: Cybernetics from Wiener to Haraway to Lanier

13 December 2016
Week 9
Ubiquitous and Pervasive Computing: The Web of Everything

3 January 2017
Week 10
People! Soylent Web is People!

10 January 2017
Week 11
Small Data, Big Data, Red Data, Blue Data: From Deep Learning to Deep Dreaming

17 January 2017
Week 12
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Singularity

24 January 2017
Week 13
Debug Lab

31 January 2017
Week 14
Final Presentations

Further Reading

Warner, Julian. Human Information Retrieval. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009.

Campbell, James W.P. The Library: A World History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013.

Webster, Frank. Theories of Information Society. London: Routledge, 1995.

Gleick, James. The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood. New York: Pantheon Books, 2011.

Shannon, Claude and Weaver, Warren. The Mathematical Theory of Communication. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1949.

Baeza-Yates, Ricardo and Ribeiro-Neto, Berthier. Modern Information Retrieval. New York: ACM Press, 1999.

Krajewski, Marcus. Paper Machines: About Cards and Catalogs, 1548-1929. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011.

Kurlansky, Mark. Paper: Paging Through History. New York: W.W. Norton, 2016.

Müller, Lothar. White Magic: The Age of Paper. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2014.

Ludovico, Alessandro. Post-Digital Print: The Mutation of Publishing Since 1894. Eindhoven: Onomatopee, 2012.