negotiating agency

redesigning technological relationships with Internet of Things, voice interfaces & machine learning

How could our relationship with technology in regard to power and control be playfully redefined?

• 19. Oct. - 16. Nov. 2021
• Online!
• Five-weeks, Tuesdays, 6PM-8PM CET
• Small class of participants

Pricing (For tickets click here)
Artist / Student (Full Time)



Generous Supporter Ticket

Solidarity ticket
Donation (Limited)*

*plus fees (VAT EU ONLY)


The market is overflowing with "smart" products making their way into our homes. Humans interact with these technologies countless times throughout the day and all of these interactions take part in forming our relationship with the devices and services we use. Yet, many amateur users are not aware of their digital footprint or their everyday encounters with machine learning algorithms.

Despite unaware users and black box issues, more and more products pre-trained on enormous datasets (and possibly even our own interactions) end up in our daily spaces, including our most private one - home.

Here, humans form direct relationships with intelligent appliances and AI agents, but those relationships are defined by constraining power relations. The commercial products tend to work within a framework in which the home-owner is a mere passive user. They present a set of pre-defined functionalities and binary choices. Their agency in our houses is conditional, primarily determined by their creators.

Could this relationship be different? How can we establish new rules over our relationship with technology? How can we stay in the position of control when we are are only equipped with a limited understanding?

In this course, we will explore the concept of Negotiated Agency, a process of interactive dialogue with a service or artefact in which its agency is established through a series of hands-on experiments with technology. Each week we will have a mini-workshop & participants will have a chance to build their own prototypes, sketch out concepts or work on shared experiments.

course outline

Week 1: Agency in Technology

We will kick off the course in an interactive workshop during which we will have a chance to get to know each other better and set the ground up for collaboration. We will introduce the concept of Negotiated Agency alongside the theory of Interaction Design & agency. We will discuss a landscape of relevant products, services & art projects. Finally, we will close up with the introduction of a first exercise targeting the topic of Machine Learning and Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices.

Week 2: Silly Objects

In the second week of the course, we will have a chance to show off first prototypes & concepts made in response to the Silly Objects brief. We will have a chance to iterate based on feedback. We will discuss Smart Home interventions and the role of playfulness in everyday design. We will move on to a particular area of the smart home - Digital Assistants. Each participant will have a week to come up with their own concept of a digital assistant.

Week 3: Interaction Style

The third week will be a deep dive into the world of Voice Interfaces and chatbots. We will have a chance to review some history, as well as take a critical look at the industry standards. We will go through an interactive exercise using concepts developed in the homework. The focus of the lesson will revolve around one particular aspect of Negotiated Agency: the Interaction Style. Finally, our exploration of the relationship with technology will turn to the topic of data.

Week 4: Authorization Range & Temporal Consent

The fourth week will focus on exploring UX patterns connected to sharing data. We will contest the status quo and mock-up our own solutions for Interface Design. We will also introduce a final assignment for the course, summing up our explorations of agency in new technologies.

Week 5: Control Handover, Recognizing Intent

The final week of the course will focus on some of the most intricate qualities of Negotiated Agency: control handover & recognizing intent. We will talk about predictive interfaces and interactive machine learning. Our last meeting will also be a chance to have a show & tell of final projects and a summary of our learnings.

who is this
class for?

Interaction Designers, Creative Technologists, Product Designers, Artists & anyone interested in the field of Human-Computer Interaction. Experience in design, prototyping abilities, and hands-on attitude are highly encouraged. You should be ready to visualize your own ideas - no matter if it’s in a form of a coded prototype, UI mockup, or hand-drawn stick figure sketch.

What tools does the course aim to teach?

  • concept of Negotiated Agency
  • hands-on approach to Critical, Speculative, and Interaction Design
  • rapid prototyping techniques
  • designing Voice Interfaces & Chatbots
  • designing data sharing patterns
  • conducting design critique of Smart Home products
  • opportunity to build out your own prototype(s) and mockup(s) using tools like Arduino, Botsociety, Dialogflow, Processing, Figma, Runway ML
  • some basic theories from the field of Human-Computer Interaction
  • remote workshop exercises & digital whiteboarding
  • collaboration with like-minded creatives and technologists

about live classes

Classes are 'live' meaning that you can directly interact with the instructor as well as with the other participants from around the world. Classes will also be recorded for playback in case you are unable to attend for any reason. For specific questions, please email us and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.

about tickets

Tickets for this class are currently available via Eventbrite. If you would like to avoid Eventbrite fees, please email us for direct payment options.

about vat

For tax purposes, we need to include the 19% VAT on top of ticket price for people living within the EU. IF YOU LIVE IN THE EU AND HAVE A VAT NUMBER— IT IS VAT ZERO! WE ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO HAVE AND PROVIDE THIS VAT TAX NUMBER. In order to utilise this feature at checkout, under Registration Type & Tax Receipt Information, select Business (which as a freelancer you technically are), then enter in your USt.ID. If you have any questions, feel free to email us.

about solidarity

We realise we're living in uncertain times. During this time, we are offering a limited number of pay-what-you-can solidarity tickets for this online class. These are reserved for women, POC, and LGBTQ+ who would otherwise be unable to attend. We are a small organisation with no outside funding and like many, we are also in survival mode and we ask you to consider this when making your donation. For more information, see the FAQ page here.

We kindly ask that all pay-what-you-can students register through Eventbrite. Due to reduced staffing, we’re unable to handle specific payment requests for these registrations.

meet the