Instructor: Bruce Donald Campbell

Faculty, Continuing Education - RISD, Providence, RI
Director, Watersheds Project, Providence, RI

Email: bcampbel01@risd.edu
Prerequisites: None


Although your computer may physically sit on your desk, it is virtually connected to a wide array of devices on an emergent global network. Web architecture is, in broadest terms, everything that allows traffic to speed along this electronic superhighway of interconnectivity. In this course, we examine the origins, design, and implementation of computer networks, and classify them by scale, protocol and connection method. Network topology, both physical and logical, is introduced, as well as the hardware (hubs, switches and routers) and protocols that allow for smooth communication and flow of data. An understanding of web architecture is critical to web designers, digital media artists, and anyone needing to learn the rules of the virtual road.


Class participation - 40%
Written project - 40%
Homework assignment - 20%



There are no required books associated with this class - instead, we will use our imaginations, advanced research skills, and common sense to piece together a model for how Web architecture affects our day-to-day lives and where it might support new human-enabling features in the future.

Course Handouts and On-line Readings as identified below and in class


  • OSI Model


    welcome and getting started

    Goal: To become familiar with the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model as a common system architecture design framework that we will use often in our course to consider Web architecture compared to other possible options for future consideration. The content of this course loosely follows the ordering of model from the bottom up.

    Week 1 Videos:




    Web-Enabling and Enabled-Hardware: Clients, Servers, and Connection Technologies

    Goal: To identify and understand all the devices that make up the collective Web and discuss how hardware becomes Web-enabled in general.


    Week 2 Videos:

    Network Layer Video
    Class Project Description
    IPv4 v. IPv6


    • Project Research and Initial Design - find an interesting Web application you would like to extend to make better for your use (or design one of your own from scratch). Begin to diagram your understanding of the services necessary to implement that application. Watch the three videos for more information on the project.


    hardware and networks

    Finding Devices and Information on the Web

    Goal: To understand how Internet Addresses and Domain Name Services work to allow devices to communicate with each other via a network and us to communicate with them. Understanding how to communicate with them lets us build upon our theoretical understanding with a physical one we can query. Sessions can then keep our communications coherent.


    Week 3 Video:

    DNS, Reverse DNS, Ping
    The Magic of Multicast




    network and sessions

    Everything You Needed to Know About Sessions on Computer Networks

    Goal: To reinforce the concept of a session as a manageable unit of Web-based work in order to be able to begin a session, rely on a session, and end a session effectively via a reliable data presentation for sharing information over a network. Levels 4 and 5 of the OSI model are a rich area for experimentation going forward with new Web services.

    Week 4 Videos:

    Session Management Video
    Feedback Discussion



    Time to do the meat of your research for your class project and catch up on the Forums if you have not already done so.


    sessions and presentation


    Goal: To reinforce the concept of data presentation as a means of standardizing the way we prepare and use data in meaningful applications. Level 5 of the OSI model is a rich area for data experimentation going forward with new Web services.

    Week 5 Video:

    Presentation Layer Video
    Session Layer Homework Video



    1. Finish any session management homework for a simple on-line creative playspace. For example: Words With Friends or Acrochallenge. Acrochallenge is a port of the Acrobabble game we used to play in this class (seems it is a Windows only application though). Take a close look at how many sessions were involved in you getting a game account (or signing in from Facebook)? How was session maintained for a game play?
    2. Time to continue your research for your class project and contribute to the Forums - especially this week's forum on the Presentation Layer.



    How Popular Web Applications Take Advantage of Web Architecture

    Goal: By discussing existing applications in terms of the Web architecture that supports them, we can begin to creatively think about possible new applications for the benefit of us all. Hopefully, we all want to get a sense of what can be done and how hard it would be to do it.

    Week 6 Videos:



    1. Finish up all your class contribution by the end of week 6 (Grades are due three days after).
    2. Check out student project submissions as they come in.


    projects due at 11:59pm on the last day of week 6

    Turn in your project by 11:59pm on the last day of week 6.