Utopia / Dystopia Project – Residential

Frans Francken II (1581 - 1642) Man choosing between Virtue and Vice


We’ll seek to understand various new media technologies and topics by exploring both all the amazing things that technology could lead to (Utopia) and all the horrible things that could come from it (Dystopia).

Your group can pick a target year between 5-20 years from now (2024-2039)—far enough out that we’re beyond the obvious and have enough time for social change to accompany technological changes, but not so far out that we’re into the realm of science fiction.

Grading (10 points total)

Table experience, 4 points

Create a 5-minute experience for guests to your table, planning for about 2-3 minutes of scripted presentation + 2-3 minutes of Q&A.

  • 4: Polished, practiced, and creative / engaging
  • 3: Lacking in one or more of the above
  • 2: Lacking in two or more of the above
  • 1: Coherent, but barely
  • 0: Hard to watch

Submission: In class

Photos from previous booths

Online artifact, 4 points

Make an online thing (Medium.com post, Google Doc / Slides, etc.) that presents your work in a compelling, polished fashion.

  • 4: Super-polished + super-thoughtful
  • 3: Still good, but lacking in either polish or thoughtfulness
  • 2: Complete, but not terribly polished or thoughtful
  • 1: Something’s there, but it’s super rough
  • 0: Nothing turned in

Submission: Slack to your TA and me on a single DM for grading.

Peer evaluations, 2 points

Everyone within your group will complete a brief online peer evaluation of everyone else in your group.

  • 2: All good, no complaints
  • 1: A few issues, but still participated
  • 0: Who was s/he again?

Submission: https://forms.gle/zEup3Znk2UPZtap47

Criteria for success

Successful projects will, in both the table experience and the online artifact, demonstrate:

  • Thorough research1 into the current state and future trajectory of your selected topic
  • Clear thinking about the future of your topic supported by your research alongside information and concepts from class
  • Analysis from multiple perspectives (technological, social, cultural, ethical, economic, etc.)
  • Integration between all portions of the project2
  • A sufficient level of polish3
  • A sense of fun, play, and creativity

Group roles

You’ll be working in a group of 10-12 (half your discussion group). The following are suggested—but not required—roles. How you divvy up the work is up to you.

Project coordinator: Works with everyone in the group to coordinate everything that happens into a single, cohesive project.

Research coordinator: Working with project coordinator, divvies up, coordinates, and pulls together research

Researcher: Carries out and reports back project research

Online thing coordinator: Responsible for ultimate success of the online thing. Coordinates research, original thought, and more.

Online thing editor: Responsible for final quality of written portion of online thing.

Online thing writer: There might be more than one of these. Responsible for writing a portion of the online thing.

Table creative director: Responsible for pulling together the entirety of the table experience.

Table stage director: Responsible for setting up the look, feel, etc. of the table.

Table presenter: Actually presents something at the table.

Director of fun: Adds fun to all of the above.


Wednesday, 11/6: Group topic selected

Friday, 11/8: ~20 minutes planning + coordinating time in discussion group

Friday, 11/15: Breakout session workday (~20 minutes)

Monday, 11/18: In-class work-day (meet in MLC or coordinate meeting place via Slack / discussion group)

Wednesday, 11/20: Utopia Day

Friday, 11/22: Dystopia Day

Monday, 11/25: Project debrief

Potential topics

Augmented / virtual reality
AI (Artificial Intelligence) + ML (Machine Learning)
Self-driving cars, drones, + other robots
Facebook + social media
Startups + Unicorns
Amazon (+ commerce)
The cloud + big data
Voice + smart home / Internet of Things

Selected topics

1:25 A:

2:30 A:

1:25 B:

2:30 B:

1:25 C:

2:30 C:

  1. Using both hyperlinked sources and signal phrases

  2. I.e., the table experience and online artifact read as an integrated whole, not disparate elements duct taped together at the last minute

  3. The table experience has clearly been rehearsed and considered as a whole, while the online artifact has been edited, consistently designed, etc.