Time machine: a conceptual model for predicting culture

In Boston this January?
Come sit in on my course.
Here’s the outline.

MIT CMS.S62
Special Subject: Comparative Media Studies
Time Machine: Building a model for predicting culture
Grant McCracken
Wed-Thu, Jan 18-19, 25-26, 1-2, 03-05:00pm, 4-231

Pre-register on WebSIS and attend first class.
Listeners allowed, space permitting
Prereq: Permission of instructor Qualitative and quantitative skills.
Level: U 3 units Standard A – F Grading Can be repeated for credit

As our culture becomes more diverse and changeable, cultural prediction becomes more urgent and difficult. The point of this course is to build a model for making predictions. We will proceed in a practical way, taking on “real world problems.” How quickly could we have seen the influence Alice Waters and Chez Panisse were to have on American culture? Could we have predicted a shift in Hollywood that demoted the likes of Schwarzenegger and promoted the likes of Michael Cera? To build the model, aka “big board” or “time machine”, we have to solve theoretical and methodological problems: what is the unit of analysis, what are the best markers of adoption, what are the best metrics, how can we make and monitor predictions, how can we represent data according to best “infographic” practice? To my knowledge, a model like this has no precedent. Think of the course as something out of the early Soviet space program. The engineering will be dodgy. Failure is not unlikely. The process will be messy and frustrating. But the outcome is sure to be illuminating and instructive. Plus your heroism is guaranteed.
Contact: Grant McCracken

22 thoughts on “Time machine: a conceptual model for predicting culture”

  1. Indy, as you know, i had hoped to use some technology to bring people into the classroom (or let the classroom out in the world). But as it turns out the MIT tech is not quite there yet. I would have absolutely loved to have made you a part of the proceedings! Grant

    1. Laura, wish you could join us. I haven’t thought this far ahead. But certainly I will do something. Best, Grant

  2. I’d love to come, and am even willing to. The seminar seems directly related to my current professional role, which I’d be happy to discuss later. But poking around MIT admissions info is not revealing key details. I’m a Canadian (nationality, working and living) and I’m not sure where to look on the MIT admissions website for info about my case. I’m not getting a sense that attending the course is even possible for me. AM I missing something?

    1. Neil, good questions, you can certainly sit in, how you can sign up for credit is another question and for that I think you need to be an MIT student. would be great to have you another Canadian in the room! Best, Grant

  3. It would be a thrill to sit in! I don’t need the credit, just the knowledge. There won’t be a more eager pair of ears in the room. I’ll head to your “contact” form to discuss this some more.

  4. Sounds awesome. Maybe time for a visit to your friendly neighbour to the north? Come to Toronto for a sabbatical and teach the course here!

  5. I will try to attend as many sessions as possible and live tweet. Grant…name your hashtag?

  6. Wish I could make this, it looks awesome! Any plans to do another bootcamp-style event? That day was absolutely brilliant. You could get me on a plane to anywhere for another one like that. I’m sure lots of other people too.

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