Tom Igoe Fall 2020

Class Times

  • Wednesdays:
  • 9:00 AM – 11:30 AM NYC time (GMT-4, until Nov. 1, then GMT-5)
  • 3:20 PM – 5:50 PM NYC time (GMT-4, until Nov. 1, then GMT-5)

Contacting Me

My Calendar click here for office hours and to know my general schedule for the week. You’ll meed to sign in with your NYU login to see it. I will schedule regular office hour appointment slots which you can book automatically once the semester starts.

My email:

Outside of office hours, I am generally working from 9 AM to 6 PM NYC time Monday-Friday. Sometimes I attend special events or do class prep outside of those hours, and will adjust my regular schedule when I know all my students’ times and locations. I generally don’t check messages outside of work times, however. If you contact me outside of working hours, I’ll try to get back to you as soon as my next working time allows.

How Class Will Be Run

The most valuable thing we can do when we are in person or online in a class meeting together is to discuss and practice the subject that you’re learning. Any “lecture material” is on this site in video or written form, and assigned for the weeks where we will discuss it. I will expect that you’ve done the readings or watched the videos and tried the lab exercises assigned in advance of each class, and are coming to the class meetings with questions. Class meetings will be mainly discussions and shared demonstrations or experiments, not lectures. Use class time to get me or your classmates to clarify things you didn’t understand from the assigned material.

It’s okay if you couldn’t get a lab exercise or a project to work. When that happens, try to debug it, explain what you did in your blog, and come to class prepared to talk about the details and ask specific questions. Pay attention to your classmates’ work and their questions; quite often, they’ll be asking the same thing as you.

When class meetings are conducted online, I might record the Zoom meetings, if it is useful to the class and if all students consent. We will pause the recording when the discussion needs more privacy, and I will share the recording links only with our class, and set them to expire after the semester. If a question comes up in class or in online office hour meetings that is broadly useful, I may ask you if we can record the answer for others. Your comfort and consent are important, however, so please let me know if you have concerns.

Class Tools

Since this class will be meeting remotely via Zoom this semester, there are a few other tools I’ll be using that you might want to get familiar with:

NYU Google App suite – you’ll need to know these for most of NYU interaction. You have access to the whole suite through your NYU account. Search for NYU Drive. We’ll use mail, calendar, docs, sheets, drive, and slides.

Zoom – Check out Zoom tutorials and resources by NYU.

Code Tools

  • Arduino: I’ll be using the desktop IDE, version 1.8.13 or later. I work on MacOS. You can use whichever version of the Arduino IDE you prefer, however. Download is free.
  • GitHub: gitHub is a code repository that we use in many classes at ITP. The code samples for this class are all in this gitHub repository, and I have my own gitHub account with other sample code that I have written. I’ll link to specific examples as they come up. Accounts are free, and the GitHub Desktop app is free as well.
  • A shared code editing site. It’s very barebones, but it’s fast and easy to get set up and edit together in real time. Accounts are free. You can’t run code on codeshare, but you can share the text of your programs. Sometimes we’ll use it to share code samples with each other.
  • is a code sharing site that’s specific to web apps. I’ll use it sometimes to show you p5.js sketches that can talk to Arduino. Accounts are free.
  • I use Visual Studio Code as my main programming editor outside of the Arduino IDE. I use it for HTML, JavaScript (including p5.js projects), node.js, and sometimes Arduino as well. You may not need it, but if you’re looking for a general purpose programming editor, I recommend it. Downloads are free.

Drawing Tools

This course involves a lot of circuit and system drawings. I make my circuit diagrams in Fritzing, a circuit and schematic drawing program designed for electronics beginners. Downloads are about $9.oo USD. I also use Inkscape, a vector drawing tool. Downloads are free. I tend to export drawings as SVG files, so they are editable by others. Some people also like Sketch, Affinity Designer or  Adobe Illustrator, though they are not free. I’ll generally post any drawings I do to this class page, but always feel free to ask, and I’ll be happy to share what I have drawn.

I will share any other tools that we find useful on the Resources section of this site.

Useful links

A Few Good Reads

These are not on the main reading list or the Related Books and Articles page, but I think they’re excellent reads if you’re thinking about physical interface design.

  • Don Norman on the Paradox of Wearable Technologies, specifically heads-up displays like Google Glass.
  • Anil Dash on why There Is No “Technology Industry”
  • Bret Victor on Doug Engelbart and why Engelbart matters. A lovely tribute.
  • Ben Rubin’s redesign of the sounds in the NYC subway, circa 1998. In these, Ben looked at the sounds that are used to cue users of the subway and noted their limitations, then redesigned them to make them more understandable and useful. Video 1 and video 2 show the whole interaction.  Thanks to Alden Jones for finding them again.
  • Brenda Laurel’s Computers as Theatre, 2nd edition (NYU Library permalink). I first read this book in about 1993. It had a big impact on me, as I was working in theatre at the time, and it gave me a thorough, yet well explained, introduction to what computer interaction is all about, using theatre practice as an metaphor to explain it. Laurel stresses how it’s the action that is key to what we make, and the physical devices, controls, etc. set the stage for that. The 2nd edition, released in 2014, is a great update to a classic. Her writing is appropriately scholarly in its reference to the thinking of others in the field, yet very conversational, making it clearer than most theoretical writing.

Class Blogs

Wednesday 9 AM – 11:30 AM ET (Section 8)

Wednesday 3:30 -5:50 PM ET (Section 5)