A Guide to Important Sources for Further Research

Systems, Architectures, Complexity: Macro-Level Studies

  • W. Brian Arthur, The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves. New York, NY: Free Press,  2009.
  • Donald A. Norman, Living with Complexity. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2010.

Complex System Design: Modularity, Abstraction, Layers & Levels

  • Herbert A. Simon, “The Architecture of Complexity.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 106, no. 6 (December 12, 1962): 467–82.
  • Carliss Y. Baldwin and Kim B. Clark, “Modularity in the Design of Complex Engineering Systems.” In Complex Engineered Systems: Science Meets Technology, edited by Dan Braha, Ali A. Minai, and Yaneer Bar-Yam, 175-205. Cambridge, MA: Springer, 2006. [On the key concepts of modularity in computer design and the efficiencies and benefits for business. Note the emphasis on “design options” as part of design thinking.]
  • Parnas, D.L., P.C. Clements, and D.M. Weiss. “The Modular Structure of Complex Systems.”IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering SE-11, no. 3 (March 1985): 259–66.

Cognitive Artefacts, Semiotic Technologies

Media, Mediation, Socio-Technical Artefacts

  • Bruno Latour, “Technology Is Society Made Durable.” In A Sociology of Monsters: Essays on Power, Technology and Domination, edited by John Law, 103-31. London, UK; New York, NY: Routledge, 1991.
  • John Law, “Actor Network Theory and Material Semiotics.” In The New Blackwell Companion to Social Theory, 141-58. Malden, MA; Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.
  • Regis Debray, Transmitting Culture, trans. Eric Rauth. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.  Excerpts from Chaps. 1-2 and 7.
    • Debray usefully distinguishes (by redefinition) “communication” from “transmission” (over longer time spans). His more complex model of technical “mediation” involving many co-dependencies — technical, social, institutional, political — is close to Latour’s and Actor-Network Theory (and all systems theory models).

Affordances and Interfaces for Interaction

  • Janet H. Murray, Inventing the Medium: Principles of Interaction Design as a Cultural Practice. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012.
  • Apple, Inc. User Interface Design Principles for the Mac OS X: User’s “Mental Model” Note how the “official” design principles for Apple are mainly ways to “operationalize” and “productize” (procedures for implementing functions in specific instances) well-known design principles.

Information and Communication Theory (Signal to Sign)

Computer System Design and Computational Thinking

  • Peter J. Denning and Craig H. Martell. Great Principles of Computing. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2015.
  • Denning, Peter J. “The Great Principles of Computing.” American Scientist, October, 2010.
  • —–. “What Is Computation?” Ubiquity (ACM), August 26, 2010, and republished as “Opening Statement: What Is Computation?” The Computer Journal 55, no. 7 (July 1, 2012): 805-10.
  • Rosenbloom, Paul S. “Computing and Computation.” ACM and The Computer Journal 55, no. 7 (July 1, 2012): 820-24.

From Computers to Metamedia Interfaces

  • Michael S. Mahoney, “The Histories of Computing(s).” Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 30, no. 2 (June 2005). [The different research and development communities behind concepts and applications for computing.]
  • Martin Campbell-Kelly, “Origin of Computing.” Scientific American 301, no. 3 (September 2009): 62–69.
  • Martin Campbell-Kelly and William Aspray. Computer: A History Of The Information Machine. 3rd ed. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2014. [ Excerpts from Part 4 on the Personal Computer, Internet, and World Wide Web.]
  • Peter J. Denning, “Design Thinking.” Communications of the ACM, 56, no. 12 (December 2013): 29-31 (parallel with Great Principles of Computing, chap. 10; skim and overview for this week).
  • David A. Patterson, and John L. Hennessy. Computer Organization and Design: The Hardware/Software Interface. 5th ed. Oxford, UK; Waltham, MA: Morgan Kaufmann, 2013. Excerpts from Chapter 1. [Excellent overview of important concepts for system architecture from PCs to tablets. For beginning computer engineering students, but accessible.]

Mobile Telephony and Mobile Internet Devices: Statistics and Implications

Digital Media and Digitization

  • Ron White and Timothy Downs. How Digital Photography Works. 2nd ed. Indianapolis, IN: Que Publishing, 2007. [ Excerpts that cover the basics of the digital camera and digital image creation, memory, and processing.]
  • John Watkinson, Art of Digital Audio. 3rd ed. Oxford; Boston: Focal Press, 2000. [You won’t have to read this straight through, but read around to see if you can get the basic concepts of digital audio encoding and how/why it works. This is more detail that you will probably want or need, but very useful for demystifying the well-designed engineering processes behind all the digital audio we use every day! Written at the level of systems abstraction, the author is not concerned with the standards, formats, and commoditization of digital media artefacts that come at the next levels of implementation.]
  • Social and Institutional Contexts of Digital Media:
  • Paul M. Leonardi, “Digital Materiality? How Artifacts without Matter, Matter.” First Monday15, no. 6 (2010).
  • Jannis Kallinikos, Aleksi Aaltonen, and Attila Marton. “A Theory of Digital Objects.” First Monday 15, no. 6 (June 5, 2010).
  • Hal Abelson, Ken Ledeen, and Harry Lewis. Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Addison-Wesley, 2008. Excerpt from Introduction: “Digital Explosion: Why Is It Happening, and What Is at Stake?
    [The authors’ arguments open up important issues, but you will probably see ways to critique the rather totalizing and either/or statements.]

The Internet and Web: Key Design Principles and Extensible Futures

Internet, Web, and Society Research

De-Blackboxing and Design Case Studies