Looking Outwards

What is a “Looking Outwards” Assignment?

On ten occasions this semester — nearly every week — you will be asked to “look outwards” — to browse various blogs and feeds or other resources in order to deepen your knowledge of the field, and familiarize yourself with the current state of the art. You will then be expected to report on your findings, as described below — hopefully, with a critical perspective. Often, the “Looking Outwards” assignments will be thematically oriented. Sometimes they will be technically oriented. There is no restriction on the sources of information you may use for a “Looking Outwards” assignment — for example, you are welcome to use the library, especially to learn about older works which may not be well-documented on the Internet.

A “Looking-Outwards Assignment” is one blog post containing a discovery.
The emphasis is on “discovery” — browse blogs and other sources to encounter and report on projects that you haven’t seen before. (For this course, it may be most appropriate to select projects that are made by individuals or small teams, rather than large companies, but that’s not a strong requirement). Blogging about a project of which you’re already aware defeats the point of the assignment, which is to deepen your familiarity with the field.

How to do a Looking Outwards Assignment.
In a blog post, embed relevant images or video of each project, and write a paragraph (~150 words) about each project, in which you:

  • Explain the project in a sentence or two (what it is, how it operates, etc.);
  • Explain what inspires you about the project (i.e. what you find interesting or admirable);
  • Critique the project: describe how could it have been more effective; discuss some of the other possibilities that it suggests, or opportunities it missed; explain what you think the creator(s) got right, and how they got it right.
  • Research the project’s chain of influences. Dig up the ‘deep background’, and compare the project with related work or prior art, if appropriate. What sources inspired the creator this project?
  • Please be sure to label your blog post with our WordPress “category”, Looking-Outwards.
    Title your blog post(s) consistently, with the title YourName-LookingOutwards-1, etc.

Learning Outcomes. 
After completing the sequence of Looking Outwards assignments, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate familiarity with historic and/or contemporary new-media projects relevant to that student’s specific research interests;
  • Demonstrate familiarity with new-media projects that exemplify cultural practice with widely-used arts-engineering toolkits and/or with specific technologies.