Social Hacking

Lauren McCarthy and Kyle McDonald
NYU ITP Spring 2016
NYU ITP Fall 2015
NYU ITP Fall 2014
School for Poetic Computation Spring 2014
Cinekid Festival Spring 2015
Gray Area Foundation for the Arts Winter 2014

Class website

Course Description

This course explores the structures and systems of social interactions, identity, and self representation as mediated by technology. We will investigate ways that technology can be used to augment, subvert, alter, mediate, and ultimately deepen interaction in a lasting way.

How do the things we build and use limit and expand the way we understand and relate to each other? We'll explore this question by building new tools and creating new situations for breaking us out of existing patterns, and discussing contextual examples from media art, performance art, psychology and pop culture. Technologies explored will include computer vision (face/body/eye tracking with openFrameworks), data representation and glitch, browser extensions and plugins (in Chrome), computer security, mobile platforms, and social automation and APIs (Facebook, Twitter, Mechanical Turk).

Students will develop projects that alter or disrupt social space in an attempt to reveal existing patterns or truths about our experiences and technologies, and possibilities for richer interactions. Different tactics for intervention and performance will be explored, first through a set of short prompts or experiments, and then through a larger, more thorough intervention.

Main Topics

Social Glitch - glitch, breaching experiments, Erving Goffman, Harold Garfinkel, Stanley Milgram
Social Automation and APIs - social media automation, Mechanical Turk, using and misusing APIs
Extensions and customization - browser extensions, assistive tech, conversation augmentation
Security, Surveillance, and Privacy - historical surveillance art, surveillance culture, hacking, radical transparency
Mobile, Public, and Participatory Performance - mobile platforms and app building, quantified self, performance art, public space
Computer Vision and Linguistic Analysis - face tracking, gaze detection, skeleton tracking, language processing, sentiment analysis

Selected Readings

Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life
Rosa Menkman, The Glitch Moment(um)
Adrian Chen, The Laborers Who Keep Dick Pics and Beheadings Out Of Your Feed, Wired
Judith Newman, How One Boy With Autism Became BFF With Apple’s Siri, New York Times
Joanne McNeil, Robot Eyes for Resting Bitchy Face
Alexis C. Madrigal, Almost Human: The Surreal, Cyborg Future of Telemarketing, The Atlantic
Jacob Gaboury, A Queer History of Computing, Rhizome
Taina Boucher, Objects of Intense Feeling: The Case of the Twitter API, Computational Culture
Joanne McNeil, The Dream Must Be Continuous
John Browlee, Ellen Page Is Naked in the Uncanny Valley
Carl Wilson, With Friends Like These...
Jacob Appelbaum, To Protect And Infect, 30c3
Steve Mann, My Augmediated Life, IEEE Spectrum 2013
Christoph Engemann, What's In A Name?, 28c3
Bruce Schneier
Kate Losse, The Male Gazed, Model View Culture
Jan Cohen-Cruz, Radical Street Performance
Claire Bishop, Participation
Richard Schechner, The Street is the Stage
Steve Dietz, Public Sphere_s
Jonah Brucker-Cohen, Locative Media Revisted, Rhizome
Golan Levin, Computer Vision for Artists and Designers
Greg Borenstein, OpenCV Processing Book

Student Work

View Creative Applications write-up of student work.