Welcome to Interactive Design and the Internet

"Technology is the answer, but what was the question?”


In this studio course, students create work within the web browser to explore where the internet comes from, where it is today, and where it’s going—recognizing that there is no singular history, present, or future but many happening in parallel. The course in particular focuses on the internet’s impact on art—and vice versa—and how technological advance often coincides with artistic development. Students will learn foundational, front-end languages HTML, CSS, and JavaScript in order to develop unique graphic forms for the web that are considered alongside navigation, pacing, and adapting to variable screen sizes and devices. No prior programming experience is required.


This course is open to approximately 15 students. It is required for the 7 graduate students in the Preliminary year of the Graphic Design track. There are approximately 6 more spaces open to undergraduate students who have taken Intro to Graphic Design or Typography courses (Art 132 and Art 264), with preference to art majors and then to seniors of other majors. Finally, approximately 2 spaces are reserved for graduate students in the First year of the Graphic Design track. Interested students with special circumstances can speak to me directly.

Since there is often a high demand for this class, unfortunately not all interested students are admitted. Here are qualities that help you be admitted, in order of priority:

  • art major
  • have both prerequisites
  • senior
  • tried to get into the class before
  • emailed me in advance

I will be in touch via email on Sunday, January 21st regarding the final class roster.

Class & course design

This course meets for 14 classes.

In general, each class will contain some of the following:

  • sharing
    (lecture, show and tell of examples brought into class, interviews)

  • seminar
    (discussion on readings, student reading responses read aloud)

  • working
    (learning, experimenting, designing, coding, troubleshooting)

  • critiquing
    (spending time with others’ work, offering observations, discussion)

During the first third of the course (Classes 1–6), we’ll focus on learning specific web markup and programming (HTML, CSS, JavaScript and jQuery). During this phase, each week students will do two things: 1) create a new web-based piece, responding to a simple prompt, that uses and explores the previous week’s learned skills 2) write a reflection to weekly assigned readings, in response to a given question.

For the remaining two thirds of the course (Classes 7–14), we’ll use and continue developing those skills while completing two web-based projects.


Throughout this course, students will read, listen, watch, chat, and write written reflections surrounding the following themes:

art.yale.edu — “Have graphic designers moved toward producing platforms, instead of producing contained works? The problem of platform design is like a miniature problem of governance.” We’ll learn about the Yale School of Art’s website as a primary, intimate example to discuss larger topics of context and community, governance and design, audience, emergent design, the lifecycle of a website, and “undergrounds” online.

Preservation — “A challenge of archiving the internet is its never-ending present. It is elementally ethereal, ephemeral, unstable, and unreliable.” We’ll explore a history of the internet as a communicative, informational, and cultural tool and the archiving challenges present in projects such as The Internet Archive (archive.org). Is all digitally-stored information vulnerable? Could the sum total of human knowledge be wiped out?

Primary or secondary — “Do you think of yourself as primarily working ‘on’ the digital or primarily ‘within’ it?” Within the internet context, we’ll understand the conflict between subject and object. The object (a website) is often self-reflexive, in that it is both the content and the subject itself, extending the challenges of archiving. Extending this conversation to art, does exhibiting art made specifically for the internet in a gallery detract meaning from the work?

Social networks — “Attention is a finite resource, and how we choose to spend our attention online is, in some ways, a direct reflection of where human culture has gone in an era where access to information is basically unlimited.” We’ll take a critical approach to social media, looking at big players like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat as well as smaller initiatives and micro-communities in which performance plays an important role.

Ubiquity — In the history of computing, we’ve gone from using a “mainframe,” in which many people share a single computer, to “personal computing,” where there’s one computer for one person, and finally to “ubiquity,” where many computers share each of us. We’ll read about the Internet of Things, in which all devices, from remotes to airplanes, contain internet-connected computers. We’ll also explore design challenges inherent to ubiquity, with solutions including focus on calm and utilizing the periphery.


For the first third of the course (Classes 1–6), students will be learning skills by creating a piece exploring what’s unique to the medium at hand every week. (HTML, CSS, JavaScript + jQuery). These one-week projects must be turned in on time, and late one-week projects will not be accepted. Ideally, they will be surprising—telling us something new, or telling us in a new way—about the medium at hand. (Please do not use technologies that haven't been covered yet in class. Technically "advanced" projects are not necessarily best.) The one-week projects and the reading responses will be graded by on-time completion. Both must be posted to your individual class website before the beginning of class.

For the second two thirds of the class (Classes 7–14), students will complete two projects. They will be graded on their quality. Projects should both take a stance (be poetic, memorable, critical, and clear) and also be functional (achieve their goals and not break). Please note the invention of useful products is not the focus of this class, but the invention of useful techniques and approaches might be. Taking risks is not only encouraged but essential to worthwhile exploration and ongoing thinking. Craft (in design, code, and presentation) is also important.

For more information, continue onto the welcome 2 page...