Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones. The intellectual activity that produces material artifacts is no different fundamentally from the one that prescribes remedies for a sick patient or the one that devises a sales plan for a company or a social welfare policy for a state. Design, so construed, is the core of all professional training.
—Herbert Simon, “The Science of Design: Creating the Artificial”
I received my MA from San Diego State University in Rhetoric and Writing under Cezar Ornatowski. I received my PhD in Rhetoric and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University, emphasizing cultural studies under Jennifer Slack and Patty Sotirin.
I am presently working as a web developer for the Van Pelt & Opie Library at Michigan Technological University.
Randal Sean Harrison, PhD
Van Pelt & Opie Library
Michigan Technological University
1400 Townsend Dr.
Houghton, MI 49931-1295
We ought to establish the basic sociotechnological principles of control mechanisms as their age dawns, and describe in these terms what is already taking the place of the disciplinary sites of confinement that everyone says are breaking down...The key thing is that we're at the beginning of something new...the widespread progressive introduction of a new system of domination.
—Gilles Deleuze, Negotiations
Working in the tradition of British cultural studies, I approach the study of culture and technology as an articulation of economic, juridico-political, socio-cultural, and technological forces. My work explores the deeply imbricated and co-constitutive relation of culture and technology, particularly with regard to what is termed the network- or information society, cyberculture, or new media. I use the theory and practice of articulation to map the various provisional linkages joining digital information communication technologies to ideologies to economic and juridico-political practices, to computer protocols and other technologies in our contemporary historical conjuncture. In mapping these articulations, I employ theorists drawn from a wide range of related fields/approaches, including cultural studies, actor-network theory, cybercultural studies, rhetoric and semiotics, and visual culture. My experience in web development and graphic design informs my research and teaching in these areas.
My dissertation, The Problematic of Privacy in the Namespace (2013) focused these concerns on the examination of the changing nature of informational privacy in digital domains across domestic and global formations.
The Problematic of Privacy in the Namespace
In the twenty-first century, the issue of privacy—particularly the privacy of individuals with regard to their personal information, effects, and domains—has become highly contested terrain, producing a crisis that affects both national and global social formations. This crisis, or problematic, characterizes a particular historical conjuncture I term the namespace.
Using cultural studies and the theory of articulation, I map the emergent ways that the namespace articulates economic, juridical, political, cultural, and technological forces, materials, practices and protocols. The cohesive articulation of the namespace requires that privacy be reframed in ways that make its diminution seem natural and inevitable. In the popular media, privacy is often depicted as the price we pay as citizens and consumers for security and convenience, respectively. This discursive ideological shift supports and underwrites the interests of state and corporate actors who leverage the ubiquitous network of digitally connected devices to engender a new regime of informational surveillance, or dataveillance. The widespread practice of dataveillance represents a strengthening of the hegemonic relations between these actors--Each shares an interest in promoting an emerging surveillance society, a burgeoning security politics, and a growing information economy,that further empowers them to capture and store the personal information of citizens/consumers.
In characterizing these shifts and the resulting crisis, I also identify points of articulation vulnerable to rearticulation and suggest strategies for transforming the namespace in ways that might empower stronger protections for privacy and related civil rights.
The role of pedagogy is to develop an epistemology of pluralism that provides access without people having to erase or leave behind different subjectivities…we cannot remake the world through schooling, but we can instantiate a vision through pedagogy that creates in microcosm a transformed set of relationships and possibilities for social futures, a vision that is lived in schools.
—The New London Group, Multiliteracies
In addition to working in the fields of communication and design, I sometimes teach in these areas. My courses are often focused by urgent social questions, including but not limited to those raised by the emergence of highly technologized forms of social, political, and cultural organization. I leverage a strong background in information, graphic, and web design to give students real-world multi-media production experience, where appropriate. I challenge students to problematize received views of the major problematics of our social formation (e.g., sex/gender, race/ethnicity, class, culture and technology) and to make their course work count in very real ways toward positive social transformation.
For more information, my curriculum vitae and teaching philosophy are available upon request.
Michigan Technological University
- HU 3642—Introduction to Multimedia Design
- HU 3120—Technical Communication
- HU 2650—Introduction to Website Design
- UN 2001—Revisions: Oral, Written and Visual Communication
- ESL 301—English as a Second Language (Intermediate Reading)
- Flash Multimedia Design—Michigan Tech Summer Youth Pograms
- Graphic Design (asst.)—Michigan Tech Summer Youth Pograms
San Diego State University
- RWS 305—Writing in Multiple Contexts
- RWS 200—Intermediate Composition
- RWS 100—Beginning Composition
- RWS 096—Developmental Writing
- ENG 220—Introduction to Literature
I am currently working as a web developer and UX designer in the area of library informatics. Prior to working for the library, I designed for a number of other organizations at Michigan Tech, including the Multiliteracies Center, the Humanities Department, the Graduate Student Government, the graduate student organization Global City, and the NSF-sponsored ADVANCE initiative.
As a designer, I work hard to provide clients with a tailored solution, balancing the client's objectives with their users' needs and expectations. I practice web standards-compliant, user-centered, iterative design, marrying a keen aesthetic sensibility with the conviction that strong information architecture is at the core of exceptional site design.
Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul...In any case, always rememeber what Jean-Luc Godard said, "Its not where you take things from, it's where you take them to."
Politics + News
Techno + Culture
- Boing Boing
- Center for Social Media
- CIS (stanford)
- Creative Commons
- Digital Culture & Ed.
- Feminism 101
- History of Science
- Khan Academy
- Open Culture
- PEW Internet Research
- Voice of the Shuttle
- 20 Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web
- 24 Ways
- Adaptive Path
- A List Apart
- Before & After Magazine
- David Airey
- Flowing Data
- HighCharts JS
- History of Visual Comm
- Information is Beautiful
- I Love Typography
- Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox
- Jason Santa Maria
- Lea Verou
- Luke Wrobleski
- Mozilla Developer Network
- Tuts+ Design Tutorials
- Swiss Miss
- Smashing Magazine
- Stack Overflow
- UX Booth
- UX Magazine
- Web Design 14
- What Makes Them Click
- Yay Everyday!