Randal Sean Harrison avatar image notation

about me

Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones. The intellectual activity that produces material artifacts is no different fundamentally from the one that prescribes remedies for a sick patient or the one that devises a sales plan for a company or a social welfare policy for a state. Design, so construed, is the core of all professional training.

—Herbert Simon, “The Science of Design: Creating the Artificial”

I am currently the Emerging Technologies Librarian for the Hesburgh Libraries at the University of Notre Dame. There I assist users with the identification, evaluation, and use of emerging technologies in the creation of a variety of media-rich projects, explore innovative online tools and related services, and identify learning and engagement opportunities to support student research and promote student success.

Previously, I was the web developer for the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library at Michigan Technological University. There I redesigned and reintegrated the library's complex Web presence, and established a new visual and textual identity standard for both digital and print communications.

Before that, I taught a variety of courses all centered on composition/design at a few universities and colleges, both as a graduate student and for several years as an adjunct lecturer.

Randal Sean Harrison, Ph.D.
Emerging Technologies Librarian
The Hesburgh Library
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556

(574) 631-0312


We ought to establish the basic sociotechnological principles of control mechanisms as their age dawns, and describe in these terms what is already taking the place of the disciplinary sites of confinement that everyone says are breaking down...The key thing is that we're at the beginning of something new...the widespread progressive introduction of a new system of domination.

—Gilles Deleuze, Negotiations 1972-1990

I received my M.A. from San Diego State University in Rhetoric and Writing (under Dr. Cezar Ornatowski), and my Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University (under Dr. Jennifer Daryl Slack), emphasizing Birmingham cultural studies as a framework for studying the relation between culture and technology.

Working in the tradition of British cultural studies, I approach the study of culture and technology as an articulation of economic, juridico-political, socio-cultural, and technological forces. My recent work has explored the deeply imbricated and co-constitutive relation of culture and technology, particularly with regard to what is termed the networked– or information society, cyberculture, convergence culture, or, generally, new media. I use the theory and practice of articulation to map the various provisional linkages joining digital information communication technologies to ideologies, to economic and juridico-political practices, and to computer protocols and other technologies in our contemporary historical conjuncture.

I am also interested in the way that economic, technological, and cultural forces articulate to transform the nature of play and other ludic behaviors in our increasingly networked social spaces.

The Problematic of Privacy in the Namespace (2013)

My dissertation examines the changing nature of informational privacy in digital domains across domestic and global formations.


In the twenty-first century, the issue of privacy—particularly the privacy of individuals with regard to their personal information, effects, and domains—has become highly contested terrain, producing a crisis that affects both national and global social formations. This crisis, or problematic, characterizes a particular historical conjuncture I term the namespace. Using cultural studies and the theory of articulation, I map the emergent ways that the namespace articulates economic, juridical, political, cultural, and technological forces, materials, practices and protocols. The cohesive articulation of the namespace requires that privacy be reframed in ways that make its diminution seem natural and inevitable. In the popular media, privacy is often depicted as the price we pay as citizens and consumers for security and convenience, respectively. This discursive ideological shift supports and underwrites the interests of state and corporate actors who leverage the ubiquitous network of digitally connected devices to engender a new regime of informational surveillance, or dataveillance. The widespread practice of dataveillance represents a strengthening of the hegemonic relations between these actors--Each shares an interest in promoting an emerging surveillance society, a burgeoning security politics, and a growing information economy,that further empowers them to capture and store the personal information of citizens/consumers. In characterizing these shifts and the resulting crisis, I also identify points of articulation vulnerable to rearticulation and suggest strategies for transforming the namespace in ways that might empower stronger protections for privacy and related civil rights.

Recommended APA citation

Harrison, R. S. (2013). The Problematic of Privacy in the Namespace. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Michigan Tech Digital Commons. (http://digitalcommons.mtu.edu/etds/666)


The role of pedagogy is to develop an epistemology of pluralism that provides access without people having to erase or leave behind different subjectivities…we cannot remake the world through schooling, but we can instantiate a vision through pedagogy that creates in microcosm a transformed set of relationships and possibilities for social futures, a vision that is lived in schools.

—The New London Group, Multiliteracies

In addition to working in the fields of communication and design, I sometimes teach in these areas. My courses are often focused by urgent social questions, including but not limited to those raised by the emergence of highly technologized forms of social, political, and cultural organization. I leverage a strong background in information, graphic, and web design to give students real-world multi-media production experience, where appropriate. I challenge students to problematize received views of the major problematics of our social formation (e.g., sex/gender, race/ethnicity, class, culture and technology) and to try to make their course work count in very real ways toward positive social transformation.

Syllabi are provided upon request. For more information, please see my:

Michigan Technological University

  • HU 3642—Introduction to Multimedia Design
  • HU 3120—Technical Communication
  • HU 2650—Introduction to Website Design
  • UN 2001—Revisions: Oral, Written and Visual Communication
  • ESL 301—English as a Second Language (Intermediate Reading)
  • Flash Multimedia Design—Michigan Tech Summer Youth Pograms
  • Graphic Design (asst.)—Michigan Tech Summer Youth Pograms

San Diego State University

  • RWS 305—Writing in Multiple Contexts
  • RWS 200—Intermediate Composition
  • RWS 100—Beginning Composition
  • RWS 096—Developmental Writing
  • ENG 220—Introduction to Literature


For the first couple of years you make stuff, it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase; they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this...And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know that it's normal, and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work...It's only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions.

—Ira Glass

As a designer, I work hard to provide clients with a tailored solution, balancing their goals and objectives against their users' needs and expectations. I practice web standards-compliant, user-centered, iterative design, marrying a keen aesthetic sensibility with the conviction that strong information architecture is at the core of exceptional user experience. My design portfolio offers a fuller view of my work.





Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul...In any case, always rememeber what Jean-Luc Godard said, "Its not where you take things from, it's where you take them to."

—Jim Jarmusch

One of the most important duties of any professonal is to have an historical understanding of his or her field, a knowledge of its current shape and a sense of its future direction. Because we are more than simply professionals, however, we should strive to situate that knowledge in a larger civic humanity. Below are a number of websites which help me do at least some of all of that.

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