Live Web

Instructor: Shawn Van Every
Office Hours: Mondays from 1 to 3 and Thursdays from 1:30 to 2:30 or by appointment. Signup:
Class Wiki:


The World Wide Web has grown up to be a great platform for asynchronous communication such as email and message boards which has extended into media posting and sharing. Recently, with the rise of broadband, more powerful computers and the prevalence of networked media devices, synchronous communications have become more viable. Streaming media, audio and video conference rooms and text based chat give us the ability to create new forms of interactive content for live participants.

In this course, we'll focus on the types of content and interaction that can be supported through web based and live interactive technologies as well as explore new concepts around participation. Specifically, we’ll look at new and emerging platforms on the web such as HTML5, WebSockets and WebRTC using JavaScript and Node.js.

Experience with web technologies are (HTML and JavaScript) are helpful but not required. ICM level programming experience is required.


Grades will be determined according to the following breakdown:


It is expected that everyone in the class will create and maintain a blog for their assignments.

Be sure to enter your name, preferred email address and the URL to your blog (you can always edit this later) on the class wiki.


This class is very participatory in nature and discussions will certainly take place outside of the classroom. Along with the blog, one of the primary vehicles for these discussions (as well as administrative issues) will be the listserv.

Laptops and WiFi

I love having WiFi available and I think it is a valuable tool for use in the classroom. Unfortunately, it can very easily be a distraction as well. We are going to be exploring a variety of models for live interaction online and therefore laptops will prove very useful. We should though be courteous to one another and when we have outside guests, during discussion or student presentations laptops use should be curtailed.

Weekly Assignments

We will have weekly assignments that are relevant to material from the previous class. Due to the nature of the assignments, it is likely that you will want to work with other students as well as participate with the projects of your fellow students as "audience" members.


Attendance is mandatory. Please inform me via email if you are going to miss a class. Habitually showing up late for class or an excessive number of absences will adversely affect your grade.

Class Participation

As if I haven't said this enough. This class will be participatory, you are expected to participate in discussions and give feedback to other students both in class and participate with their projects. This (along with attendance) is 20% of your overall grade.

Group Storytelling Project

Starting on the 3rd class, we will have weekly student projects. I will divide the class up into groups and each week one or two groups will give a 15 minute storytelling demonstration utilizing technology from the previous class (chat, live drawing, audio, video conferencing, and so on).

Final Projects

Class will culminate final projects. It is expected that these will be both technology and content driven. Projects such as the development of a tool or a vehicle for live interaction will be considered but should be used in combination with content elements.


I will periodically assign readings (handouts and/or online articles). I will be updating the delicious tag "liveweb" (my liveweb bookmarks) with various sites and articles. Please feel free to use this tag as well. These bookmarks should make good material for further study, papers and presentations.

Class Schedule

Class 1: September 8

Introductions What is the "live" web? (Synchronous vs. Asynchronous)
HTML5 and Client Side JavaScript: JavaScript 101 and Media Elements
  • Add your name, preferred email address, and blog URL to the class wiki
  • Signup for the Listserv
  • If you want more basic JavaScript, go through Codeacademy's JavaScript Course, Also,'s JavaScript Essential Training looks pretty good as well
  • Using HTML5's video or audio tags along with JavaScript, create an interactive self portrait. Link to it on your blog.
  • Read Living on a Stream: The Rise of Real-Time Video, bet against or for it on your blog. Explain why.

  • Class 2: September 15

    JavaScript 102: Becoming Live AJAX, and WebSockets
    Serverside JavaScript: Node.js
    The foundation: Chat
    Live Storytelling
  • Get up and running with Node.js on Digital Ocean and the example Chat Application. Try to extend it a bit, make it better, more fun.
  • Tell your story via some text based synchronous medium online: IRC, A public web chat room, Slack, IM, something else. Write up your experiences in a blog entry. Pay particular attention to what worked and what didn't. Who was your audience? How big was it? How did you respond to them? What did you do differently than you would have done in person? How does the medium you choose to work with modify what you can and how you do?

  • Class 3: September 22

    The Canvas
    Transmitting Other Data Types: Collaborative Drawing, Mouse Events, Other data: Notes
    JavaScript 103: Objects and JSON
    In Class Example:
  • Improve on the chat or canvas drawing examples. What else could be shared this way? Could documents be collaborative edited?

  • Class 4: September 29

    The Live AV Web: HTML5 Audio and Video with WebRTC
    In Class Example: new_canvas.html and Collaborative Drawing + getUserMedia Example
  • Enhance one of your last 2 assignments with the ability collaboratively draw and/or to share camera images.

  • Class 5: October 6

    The AV Web Part 2: Involving Everyone: Multiuser Audio/Video
  • Get up and running with Live Audio/Video using Peer JS and WebRTC
  • Come up with an idea for a mid-term project, blog about it and email the class about it (we don't have class next week).
  • Have a listen to this interview with Jaron Lanier

  • Class 6: October 20

    Midterms Due
  • Midterm Project Meditation: Give your midterm project more testing and thought. What worked, what didn't? What would you still like to do? Will you continue or move on? Document the project on your blog.

  • Class 7: October 27

    What the platform wants?
    Live Streaming (OLD Circa 2009)
  • Find a live or synchronous platform that is in use online and list out it's properties (ideal number of users, capabilities, types of interaction). What do you think it was designed for, what use? What is it actually used for? Does the use match the capabilities? What are the successes or problems in it's design or use? - Prepare to show and discuss in class

  • Class 8: November 3

    WebRTC Data Channels: Notes
    Bonus: Manipulating Video and Saving Files on Node.js: Notes
    Bonus: Web Audio API: Notes | Push to talk example
  • Recreate an earlier project using WebRTC Data Channels or build a new simple peer to peer data sharing project.

  • Class 9: November 10

    Going Beyond: Mobile and Live Data from other sources (Web Services)
  • Create a simple project which involves using data from mobile device sensors or is developed for "mobile first" and uses live audio/video/data.
  • Make sure your website is up to date with your work from this semester.

  • Class 10: November 17

    Guest: Sam Gregory
    Going Beyond: Live Data from the physical world (Arduino)
    Example from Class
  • Make sure you are caught up with your homework and documentation.
  • Prepare a final project proposal; in a blog post include a short description of the idea, a bit of background (why you want to make it), include any references, and start thinking about how you will develop it.

  • Class 11: November 24

    Final Project Proposals

    Class 12: December 1

    Field Trip:CultureHub
    Additional Topics: Streaming Kinect Data

    Class 13: December 8

    Additional Topics: HTTPS - getUserMedia
    Guest: Felipe Heusser

    Class 14: December 15

    Final Project Presentations - Expect Guests