CPSC 656: Computers and New Media

Spring Semester, 2018
Time and place: T/Th 11:10 - 12:25 am, HRBB 204
Instructors: Dr. Frank Shipman
Office hours: (Shipman) HRBB 404, to be determined or by appointment


There may be students from technical and non-technical disciplines in this course. Projects and assignments are designed such that each student can show off their own skills. Programming and software development is part of the group projects so it is recommended that students from outside of computer science join project teams with students from computer science.

List of students in class

Course description

This class investigates three topics related to computational media:
  • (1) How do interactive media change the authoring and consumption of stories/narratives?
  • (2) What are the techniques and interfaces used to interact with multimedia?
  • (3) How does networked access and authoring of media content change our views of ownership and intellectual property?

These topics will be discussed at both a conceptual and tool level. By the end of the course, you will be able to look at an existing system or design a new system with an understanding of the impact it may have on communication and storytelling.


Students should have a basic knowledge of computing and the humanities, and either the ability to program complex systems or able to learn new software tools on their own. Ask instructor if you have any questions.

Reading materials

Reading schedule

This course will focus around discussions of the readings. We will read two books and assorted papers taken from a variety of conferences and journals concerning human-computer interaction, hypertext, media studies, and computers and the humanities.

Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace, by Janet Murray, book
The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind, by James Boyle, book

Selected papers:

The following links require access to the ACM Digital Library. Access to ACM Digital Library is available from on-campus computers.


  Short assignments	10%
  Class participation	 5%
  Survey paper          15%
  Team project		30%
  Quizes                40%
Grades will be on a 10 point scale: 90-100 = A, 80-89 = B, 70-79 = C, 60-69 = D, and <60 = F.

Short assignments

List of assignments.

There will be a number of assignments due in class. These assignments may require use of specific software outside of class time and will take the form of short essays, written answers to questions, and design documents. All material turned in should be printed using a computer printer or typed except when noted otherwise.

Homework late policy:
10% is deducted from your grade for every school day late up to a maximum of one week after the original due date.

Class participation

Most class periods will include a discussion of reading materials. All students are expected to have done the readings and be able to participate in discussions.


Students will form three- to five-person teams and define a semester project or select one from a list of existing ideas. There will be three preliminary progress reports for the projects emphasizing particular phases of the interface design process:
(1) identifying a topic, determining cognitive and social issues, and determining an approach, (template for slides)
(2) creating an initial system design and mock-up, (template for slides) and
(3) instantiating the design in a prototype implementation (template for slides).

The final project report (8-12 pages in the old ACM Conference Format) will also require the design of an evaluation procedure for refining the resulting interface. The in-class presentations of project progress will be about 10 minutes long and the final presentation on the project will be approximately 20 minutes long and include all members of the team.

Project grades will be determined by both the instructor's review of the project and student's description of their and other member's work.

Programming for projects:
done in language and operating system of your choice on machines to which you have access.

General Note on Assignments

Important: All reports are to be printed on a word processor or typed (no handwritten assignments will be accepted). All writing should be the work of the student -- any text taken from other sources needs to be quoted and referenced. It is expected that students will correct grammar and spelling -- these are grounds to deduct from your grade. (i.e. Use a spelling checker and reread what you write before turning it in.)

Attendance Policy

All students are expected to attend and participate every class. Attendance policy will be administered in accordance with Texas A&M University Student Rule 7.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Policy Statement

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact Disability Services, currently located in the Disability Services building at the Student Services at White Creek complex on west campus or call 979-845-1637. For additional information, visit http://disability.tamu.edu.

Aggie Honor Code

"An Aggie does not lie, cheat, or steal or tolerate those who do."

Upon accepting admission to Texas A&M University, a student immediately assumes a commitment to uphold the Honor Code, to accept responsibility for learning and to follow the philosophy and rules of the Honor System. Students will be required to state their commitment on examinations, research papers, and other academic work. Ignorance of the rules does not exclude any member of the Texas A&M University community from the requirements or the processes of the Honor System. For additional information please visit: www.tamu.edu/aggiehonor/

On all course work, assignments, and examinations at Texas A&M University, the following Honor Pledge shall be preprinted and signed by the student:

"On my honor, as an Aggie, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this academic work."