Have a Question? Contact the Humanities Office or an Academic Unit

MMEDIA 3Q03 EmergingMedia

Academic Year: Winter 2017

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. David Ogborn

Email: ogbornd@mcmaster.ca

Office: Togo Salmon Hall 306

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27603


Office Hours: Mondays 1-2 PM and by appointment (TSH-306)

Course Objectives:

This course unites student multimedia learning with the research and media creation activities of multimedia faculty. Students critically engage with emerging practices and formats of digital media culture. For the Winter 2017 offering of the course, the focus will be on data visualization and auditory display (sonification) in web browsers. The principal learning goals are to:

  1. identify, gather and encode interesting data sets
  2. review theories of visual and auditory perception
  3. explore auditory and visual display strategies
  4. develop and improve web development skills (especially JavaScript)
  5. explore artistic, scientific and commercial applications of multimedia design

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

All required reading materials are either freely and legally available online (often in the form of open access peer-reviewed journal articles), or are available as electronic resources through the McMaster library, or are available in Avenue To Learn on a fair use basis. The course will require use of a web browser (Firefox is recommended) and a text editor (the free and open source Atom editor is recommended). Students are strongly encouraged to install this software on their own computers. Additional readings and other course materials will be available through Avenue To Learn, and students are expected to check both Avenue AND their McMaster email daily.

Method of Assessment:


  • 10% Professionalism and Participation
  • 8% Technical Exercises (8 @ 1% each, due before next class meeting after they are assigned)
  • 7% Reading Reflections (7 @ 1% each, due before next class meeting after they are assigned)
  • 20% Assignment #1: Visualization (due Monday February 6th)
  • 15% Assignment #2: Auditory Display (due Monday March 6th)
  • 40% Term Project (working draft due Monday April 3rd, final version due Fri April 13th)
  • (100% Total)

Professionalism and Participation: A grade for professionalism and participation will be assigned by the instructor in their sole discretion, and will reflect the quantity and quality of your participation and engagement with every aspect of the course, including but not limited to your record of prompt and complete attendance and engagement in all lecture and tutorial sessions. The following rubric gives a general indication of expectations:

  • 9-10% Strong evidence of professionalism & participation well beyond requirements
  • 8.5% Evidence of professionalism & participation beyond course requirements
  • 7.5% Evidence of professionalism & participation
  • 6.5% Minor problems with attendance, lack of professionalism and/or participation
  • below 6.5% Major problems with attendance, lack of professionalism and/or participation

Technical Exercises: In eight specific weeks of the course (see the detailed Schedule), there are small technical exercises to complete. In many cases it will be possible to complete these exercises during the portion of the class meeting spent in the Multimedia wing. In other cases a small amount of time outside of the class meeting will be required to complete the technical exercise. In all cases the working result of the exercise must be submitted to the appropriate Avenue submission folder before the beginning of the next class meeting. In general, complete, working and original results will be awarded full marks. After the deadline of the beginning of the next class meeting, no credit is available for completing these exercises.

Reading Reflections: In seven specific weeks of the course (see the detailed Schedule), there are required readings. These must be completed before the next class meeting, and come with an associated reflective reading response quiz (or “reading reflection” for short) that asks for short, considered answers to a few questions. In general, the questions ask students to reflect on some or all of (a) the content and discussion of the class meeting that week (b) the content of the required readings and (c) challenges and opportunities in their individual or team work for the course. Students are strongly encouraged to use these questions to help better conceptualize and frame their project work for the course (the final term project includes a reflective writing component). In general, full marks will be awarded for answers that demonstrate a timely engagement with the learning process and course content. These quizzes will each have a deadline shortly before the beginning of the next class meeting. After the deadline, it will not be possible to receive any credit for these reflections, so students are strongly encouraged to complete the readings and reflections as far in advance of the deadline as possible.

Assignments and Term Project: Detailed descriptions of the two assignments and term project will be posted to the course’s Avenue-to-Learn site, together with the rubrics used to determine grades and give constructive feedback. All work is to be handed in electronically through Avenue-To-Learn. You are encouraged to begin working on projects well in advance of their due dates.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late Policy: Late work will be subject to a penalty of 5% per day (or partial day) of the week (including weekends). Extensions for late work will be granted only upon the recommendation of a student's home faculty – please take such requests directly to your home faculty's office.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:


Week #1 – Tue Jan 10 – Purposes of visualization/sonification

Technique: drawing/painting on the HTML5 canvas

Reading: Mazza, Riccardo (2009). “Perception.” ch. 3 in Introduction to Information Visualization. London: Springer. pp. 33-44.

Week #2 – Tue Jan 17 – Visual perception

Technique: working with two dimensional data

Reading: Thomas Alexander Sick Nielsen and Henrik Harder Hovgesen (2008). “Exploratory mapping of commuter flows in England and Wales.” Journal of Transport Geography 16, pp. 90-99.

Week #3 – Tue Jan 24 – Geographic data

Technique: JSON and multi-dimensional data

Reading: Elena Zudilova-Seinstra, Tony Adriaansen, and Robert van Liere (2009). “Overview of Interactive Visualization.” ch. 1 in Trends in Interactive Visualization, E. Zudilova-Seinstra et al. (eds.). London: Springer. pp. 3-15.

Week #4 – Tue Jan 31 – Interactive visualisation (discussion and tutorial exercise)

followed by working together on visualization assignment

*** Visualization assignment due Monday 6 Feb, submitted through Avenue To Learn ***

Week #5 – Tue Feb 7 – Auditory Display (Sonification)

Technique: web audio

Reading: David Worrall (2009). “An Introduction to Data Sonification.” in The Oxford Handbook of Computer Music. ed. Roger Dean. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 312-333.

Week #6 – Tue Feb 14 – Time-series data

Technique: time and web browsers

Reading: Stephen Barrass (2003). “Sonification Design Patterns.” in Proceedings of the International Conference on Auditory Display, Boston. pp. 170-175.

Week #7 – Tue Feb 28 – Interactive Sonification (discussion and tutorial exercise)

followed by work together on auditory display assignment

Reading: Nan Cao, Lu Lu, Yu-Ru Lin, Fei Wang and Zhen Wen (2015). “SocialHelix: visual analysis of sentiment divergence in social media.” Journal of Visualization 18:2, pp. 221-235.

*** Auditory display assignment due Monday 6 Mar, submitted through Avenue To Learn ***

Week #8 – Tue Mar 7 – Networked Data

Technique: gathering, transforming and interacting with networked data

Choose one or more of the following options from recent issues of Information Visualization or the proceedings of the International Conference on Auditory Display:

Reading: Robert Ball (2017). “Visualizing genealogy through a family-centric perspective.” Information Visualization 16:1, pp. 74-89.

Reading: Katy Börner, Adam Maltese, Russell Nelson Balliet and Joe Heimlich (2016). “Investigating aspects of data visualization literacy using 20 information visualizations and 273 science museum visitors.” Information Visualization 15:3, pp. 198-213.

Reading: Felix Brodkorb, Arjan Kuijper, Gennady Andrienko, Natalia Andrienko and Tatiana von Landesberger (2016). “Overview with details for exploring geo-located graphs on maps.” Information Visualization 15:3, pp. 214-237.

Reading: Visda Goudarzi, Katharina Vogt and Robert Höldrich (2015). “Observations on an Interdisciplinary Design Process Using a Sonification Framework.” Proceedings of the International Conference on Auditory Display. Graz, Austria. pp. 81-85.

Reading: Kevin M. Smith and David Claveau (2014). “The Sonification and Learning of Human Motion.” in Proceedings of the International Conference on Auditory Display, New York, USA.

Week #9-11 – Tue Mar 14/21/28 – work together on term project, followed by weekly check-in session

*** complete, working draft of term project due Mon 3 Apr ***

Week #12 – Tue Apr 4 – Public showcase of complete, working drafts of term projects in Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship

*** final version of term project including reflective project report due Fri 13 April ***

Other Course Information:

Expected Time Commitment: 104 hours total as per McMaster standard for a 3-credit course (class meetings 12 @ 3 hours each = 36 hours; extra time to complete tutorial exercises = 8 hours; required readings 7 @ 1 hour each = 7 hours; work outside of class on assignment #1 = 10 hours; work outside of class on assignment #2 = 10 hours; work outside of class on term project = 33 hours)