Stanford University
CS 377A: Introduction to Cybernetics and the Design of Systems
Fall 2006

Introduction to Cybernetics and the Design of Systems introduces students to the discipline of cybernetics (the science of goals and feedback) and suggests how it may provide a theoretical framework for designing systems, modeling human-computer interaction, and thinking about design processes in general. In readings, lectures, discussions, and project work, the course focuses on applying cybernetic frameworks to the design of complex, interactive systems. Systems may be physical, virtual, social, or some combination; however they are always grounded in a social context. Examples include software applications and web services, instrumented environments for learning, business, and government, and collaboration systems for work or play.

Students will learn not only the history and principles of cybernetics but also expand their notion of design, extend their repertoire of design methods, and gain a valuable perspective from which to critique design activities and outcomes.

The course does not require a technical background and is relevant to those interested in design, computer-human interface development, semiotics, philosophy, or the nature of understanding.

Students in the course are required to use the wiki at to submit class assignments. Membership in the wiki is enabled by sending mail to NOTE: The date for '2005' in these URLs and addresses is confusing but correct.

Meeting Time & Place
Thursdays 7:00PM to 9:50PM - Wallenberg Hall Room 160-315

Instructors Office Hours & Location
Hugh Dubberly
Paul Pangaro

Course Syllabus

To access the course website (registered students only):

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