In this course we introduce students to programming and electronics by exploring the possibilities of network-connected devices. We start by making a LED light blink by sending an email, and continue on to design / make / explore what a more ‘open’ social network might look like. We ask students to think about technology in terms of how it affects our lives.
Price includes: 1 week of specialist tuition, $80 worth of electronics, lunch and refreshments each day and learning materials.
Each student takes away;
- A functional messaging device (that they built themselves!)
- A pack of hackable hardware/software constituted of:
- An Arduino (which is a micro controller – a computer on a chip)
- Sensors LEDs, buttons, displays, and more!
- The code, environment, and knowledge required to further explore hardware/software devices.
Students will use HackySoc: a platform, designed and developed by Polygon Door, for openly exploring the significance of ubiquitous messaging platforms. HackySoc helps students think about how technology *should* or *might* affect our social lives, rather than how it *does* with existing platforms such as Facebook. No previous knowledge of programming or electronics is required.
We also use HackySoc to provide a social context for all skills and technologies learnt. For example, rather than simply teach students how to make a LED light blink, we ask them to consider what a LED should like like to indicate receiving a message from a particular person. Should it be red? Should it blink fast? Should it blink slowly? Should it simply light-up and not blink? Should it blink for 10 seconds then stop? These questions help students move beyond simply learning technological
HackySoc (a play on Hacky Sack, and the terms Hack and Social) is a research project aimed at exploring the dynamic of networks by stripping away all of the embedded standards, algorithms, accoutrements, and centralised and proprietary architectures of existing networks in order to explore what might be possible if we began again and as a means of interrogating the assumptions that gave rise to contemporary networks. The project began with our development of an Application Programming Interface (API) for the Arduino (Mega) and a WIFI chip that is capable of exploiting two simple, powerful and open protocols for decentralised networking – SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) and POP3 (Post Office Protocol). These protocol are still used today to manage the delivery and retrieval of emails.
Once you can send and receive emails, completely autonomously via Arduino, a whole array of possibilities open up. In this project we explore those possibilities to help students think through and about the significance of the social networks that they will spend so much of their lives on.