12 Jan 2010 09:54 am

INFO 290-5: Mixing and Remixing Information
Spring 2010 / CCN: 42629
M,W 12:30-2:00 110 South Hall (unless otherwise noted)
Office Hours: MW 2-3pm and by alternative arrangment (please let  me to let me know you want to see me)
Course website (tbd): bSpace site, (http://blog.mixingandremixing.info)
Instructor: Raymond Yee, Ph.D.
email: yee@berkeley.edu

Draft Syllabus: last revised Jan 20, 2010

This project-driven course focuses on combining information from disparate sources to create applications that solve specific problems. Students will learn practical tools and techniques to recombine information through hands-on explorations and projects. The course will provide a systematic framework so that students can learn a particular example of remix in depth so they can understand remixing in a broader context.

Although techniques you will learn are applicable across many disciplines, industries, and endeavors, the 2010 edition of the course will be focused around an overarching theme (open government) and one specific problem: making sense of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and its impact on the country. Deciphering the Recovery (aka the Stimulus) is a large enough playing field to encompass many techniques and perspectives while narrow enough for us to wrap our collective minds around and make substantial progress in studying:

  • By many accounts, much of the 2010 mid-term American elections will be fought on whether the Stimulus worked. Is ARRA creating jobs as promised or is a big waste of money? Should the US be spending even more money for further economic stimulus? Did the spending accomplish what was intended?
  • Since the Stimulus touches a broad cross-section of the US, studying it is a good introduction to understanding government in the US as a whole.
  • Not surprisingly, there’s already been tons of interpretation/narrative/spin around ARRA — and we can count on a lot more! How do we enable and encourage people to back those narratives with data in a transparent and easy way?
  • As Jon Udell wrote, “The knowledge [of what’s actually being done with the money] is held collectively by the many people who are involved in the projects funded by these awards.” Can we then “materialize a view of that collective knowledge” by using the data coming from recovery.gov — and the techniques of using APIs, visualization, social networking, crowd-sourcing, and large scale computation?
  • Even with the hype, the transparency of ARRA is unprecedented. Does ARRA represent the future of government openness or will it prove to be an aberration? What happens with ARRA will have a lot to say about the future of open government/government transparency/open data/gov 2.0 in the US.
  • How have parallel economic stimulus packages worked in Canada? in Australia? What type of transparency is involved internationally?

A detailed syllabus is in the works, but here are some aspects I envision for the course:

  • We’ll be covering how to program APIs to create mashups, create APIs of our own, and understand, use and promote good data standards.
  • If you are new to programming, don’t worry. You will get good support for programming efforts in the course.
  • Participants will work on tangible projects related to the overall theme. They can select from a list of projects I design or they can propose other projects of comparable scope and intent. However, we will find ways for the projects to combine together into a larger super-project.
  • Participants will be heavily involved in learning from and teaching each other, depending on each other for the course’s collective success. The class will provide support for students to work together, not only in their own project group, but also course-wide and even with people working with us outside of the class.
  • We will open source our software and data and work towards long term sustainability for our projects.
  • To ensure that our projects remain grounded in the “real world,” we’ll be working to engage outside users for our projects from the outset.
  • The course will be designed to enable the larger community to participate.

Content Area

  1. Web 2.0, APIs and mashups
  2. Open government and ARRA specifically
  3. Web programming, design, and project management
  4. introductory computational journalism

Transferable Skills

  1. How to program with APIs in general as well as with selected specific APIs (e.g., the Google Maps APIs).
  2. How to evaluate and select which APIs to use.
  3. How to knit APIs together in robust mashups that address immediate problems facing your organization.
  4. How to perform agile prototyping of new and improved services through mashups, especially programming with APIs and also creating your own APIs out of your existing data.
  5. How to design and document an API and create a community of developers and designers around that API.
  6. How to use the best techniques available for making your content mashable.

Habits of Mind Expected

  1. Rigorous work as an amateur in the midst of complexity
  2. Intellectual humility, curiosity, courage, and perseverance
  3. Actively contributing to the overall development of the class community
  4. Work cooperatively with others in the class and outside of the class

Classroom Conduct

  • Everyone in the class is expected to contribute fully to the learning environment of the course.  I expect everyone to pay attention to each other,  treat each other respectfully, and come prepared to learn and work with others.
  • Please bring a laptop to class since we will be doing hands-on work during class.

Evaluation/Tentative Grading Criteria

  1. Projects 60%: =  Mid-term proposal/presentation (20%)  + Final project Deliverables, Presentation, and Report  (40% )
  2. Course Assignments 20%
  3. Class participation 20%


The primary textbook for the course is Raymond Yee’s Pro Web 2.0 Mashups: Remixing Data and Web Services:


An XHTML version of the book is available, but beware that it’s still under renovations!

Class Schedule

A tentative schedule for Mixing and Remixing Information (Spring 2010)


In the projects, students will synthesize and demonstrate what they have learned throughout the course. The projects need to be working syntheses of two or more data sources and services relating to the course theme of open government. Students will have opportunities to brainstorm ideas, choose a specific focal point (drawing from structured feedback from other students and the instructor), craft a proposal for their projects, and then present their work at the end of the course. We hope to assemble a panel of practitioners in the field to whom we can showcase the work of the course.

One Response to “Course Syllabus”

  1. […] just posted a draft of the syllabus and schedule for Mixing and Remixing Information 2010, whose theme is “Open Government and […]

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