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IPT: Thinking Through Communications Systems

posted Feb 26, 2009, 1:29 PM by Eddie Woo   [ updated Feb 26, 2009, 1:50 PM ]
This morning, we'll be moving onto something I planned to do this afternoon, but ran out of time to do. It required too much thinking time and we had precious little of that! (We didn't even get to retry the download race after school when we had the whole network to ourselves - we'll do it another time.)

Rather than simply being in the position of learning about and understanding how different communication technologies function, you are going to be switching hats (again!) and trying to develop a sense of what is like to sit in the designer's/technician's seat. When new technologies emerge that significantly change the way we do things, they inevitably have effects on wider society. They popularise new means of social interaction, create new social groups, change the way we work, study and learn (e.g. this website!). Therefore, your task is to...

Invent a communications system of your own.
  • Can be based on scientific ideas, or have no basis in reality
  • Must function in our present-day world (i.e. not ridiculous!)
  • Must provide a fundamentally different option for communicating with people on a day-to-day basis
Once you have your idea, then carry out the following tasks:
  1. Describe how it functions, and its key characteristics & features
  2. Explain the social & ethical issues raised
  3. Write a 400-word blog post from the perspective of one of the following:
    a. Someone whose personal life has been changed by it
    b. Someone whose professional life has been changed by it
    c. Someone who actively advocates and aims to spread the new technology
    d. Someone who actively opposes and aims to ban the new technology