We will divide the class into five teams of four or five members. Because the design exercises in this class will require a wide range of skills, every team's members should be conciously chosen to have complementary skills. Do not simply jump at the chance to work with your friends. To provide a rough sense of what interdisciplinary teams in the real world are like, we will do a team-building exercise. During the first class session, everyone will be asked to prepare a single page describing their own skill set. Include the full range of skills, in the broadest sense, that might contribute to the design of new information services. You can choose what information you want to disclose.
Information that you might want to share includes the following: programming, experience with PowerPoint and the like, a past job where you balanced a budget or wrote a business plan, knowledge about information organization, database skills (especially including XML), extensive knowledge of existing information resources, graphic design, Web site construction, having taken a traditional systems analysis course, photography, digital image manipulation, field interviewing, any sort of new media art or design, model-making, brainstorming and other advanced meeting skills, project management, giving demos, public speaking, getting projects done on schedule, MIS, industrial design, user interface design, and business analysis.
Because some of the projects will require your team to talk to people and learn about their informational lives, you should also include social worlds that you have access to: your workplace, spouse's or friends' professional worlds, an "other life" such as a hobby or political or cultural activity, a past career where you're still in touch with the people, and so on. You're not absolutely promising that you can deliver those people, just that you have good relations with them and think they might be open to helping with a simple project.
We will immediately make copies of these pages for everyone in the class. Spend the evening studying these pages and thinking about whose skills would complement your own. Then, starting on Wednesday morning, form yourselves into teams. This will no doubt require phone calls, e-mail, meetings in hallways, and so on. Don't start forming your teams until Wednesday.
This will obviously be hard work, and part of our purpose is to smash you into the practicalities of coordinating complex activities using communications media as they exist right now in April 2000. Please observe the team-building process as it is going on. Take notes. Later we will draw on these experiences as raw material for design exercises.
Once you have formed your team, it will be time to start on your presentation for the second class (April 11th). This will be a pure design project -- nothing about technology. Get to know your team members -- whether in person or in some other way is up to you. Discuss your backgrounds, your current situations, and your plans. Talk about your skills, your goals, and what interests you. Compare and contrast your lives. (Most groups will probably want to stick to professional concerns, but it's up to you where to draw the line.) Then come up with a diagram that neatly summarizes how your lives relate to one another. Organize a seven-minute presentation in which the team introduces itself to everyone else, with the diagram helping to draw the presentation together conceptually.