“Our visions of technology and design and entertainment and creativity have to be married with visions of humanity, compassion and justice.”

Bryan Stevensen


Week 1

Aug. 25

• Introduction to the class and brief discussion.
• Setting up google doc for reading notes. There is a video tutorial for setting up and sharing a Google doc on the Reading Notes page. Send me the link to your document by Tuesday morning).

Aug. 27

1. #Ferguson

• Bryan Stevenson, “We Need to Talk About an Injustice”
• Jelani Cobb, “The Anger in Ferguson”
• Zeynep Tufecki, “What Happens to #Ferguson Affects Ferguson”

terms: net neutrality, algorithmic filtering, #iftheygunnedmedown

Aug. 29

2. Ferguson and media

“Behind a Twitter Campaign a Multitude of Stories”
“Who’s a Looter?”
“If it Loots it Leads”

The title of the NPR blog that has the first reading is called “code switch.” What does this mean?

Week 2

Sept. 1 – Labor Day – No class


Sept. 3

3. The City and the “Creative Class”

• Richard Florida, “The Rise of the Creative Class”
• Charles Leroux And Ron Grossman, “Putting the Chic Back in Chicago”
• From Sin City to Sim City: Can Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh Reinvent Downtown Las Vegas? pdfFrom Sin to Sim City

Sept. 5

4. • Alec Macgillis, “The Ruse of the Creative Class”
• Sean Andrew Chen, “Questioning the Cult of the Creative Class”
• Timothy Williams, “Cities Mobilize to Help Those Threatened by Gentrification”

What do you think this quote, from the first article, means: Florida’s creative-class theory “is bad because it distracts from what’s important.”

Week 3

Sept. 8

5. • Japonica Brown-Saracino – “Who are the Gentrifiers and Why Do They Engage in Gentrification?” (pdf: Who Are the Gentrifiers)
• In class – Flag Wars documentary

Here’s a trailer:

Sept. 10

6. • Robert Putnam: The Prosperous Community: Social capital and Public Life
• In class – Flag Wars documentary cont.


social capital

Sept. 12

7. • Richard Florida, From Social Capital to Creative Capital (pdf): Florida – From Social Capital to Creative Capital

weak ties, strong ties, Explain the “new divides” he talks about.

Week 4

Sept. 15

8. • Brendan Nyhan: “Putting the Bundle Back Together: Replacing the Civic Benefits of the Newspaper”

• Paul Starr, “Goodbye to the Age of Newspapers (Hello to a New Age of Corruption),” New Republic (optional)

Thanks to Ben Chapman for forwarding me a piece by Clay Shirky on the demise of print newspapers. His advice to journalists already working in newsrooms (and these skills apply to those who want to go into journalism as well):

First, get good at understanding and presenting data. Second, understand how social media can work as a newsroom tool. Third, get whatever newsroom experience you can working in teams, and in launching new things.

Sept. 17

9. • Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody Ch. 1-2

news kinds of group-forming, post-managerial organizations

The real story of the lost sidekick in the Shirky reading (from the NY Times)


Sept. 19

10. • Shirky, Here Comes Everybody, Ch. 5-6


Week 5

Sept. 22

11. Shirky, Here Comes Everybody, Ch, 7-8

Intro to Hacking

• Gabriella Coleman, “Hacker” (pdf: Coleman – Hacker)

Sept. 24

12. Intro to Civic Hacking

• Catherine Bracy, “6 Unexpected Historical Figures with the Civic Hacker Mindset”

Sept. 26

ONA Conference

Week 6

Sept. 29

Civic Hacking II

13. Jake Solomon, People, not Data: On Disdain and Empathy in Civic Tech

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 12.01.26 PM

Oct. 1

Civic Hacking III

14. • Rui Kenaya – “How Civic Hackers are Helping Local Journalism” 

• “Hackers called into Civic Duty”

Here are a couple of projects to look at:

The New York City Subway Project (an oldie but a goodie)

This is the talk I tried to show in class (12:25 section) but couldn’t get the sound to work.

Oct. 3

Mid-term review

The mid-term, which is next Friday will review the theoretical concepts that we covered over the first six weeks of the course. These will come from Richard Florida (the creative class), Robert Putnam (social capital) and Clay Shirky (sharing, collaboration, collective action). As I mentioned in class these will be applied to a real case that I will present to you.

The mid-term will be a take-home that you can work on through early next week as there is no class on Monday nor Wednesday (I am at a conference in Edmonton. In October. Yay.)

I will post the midterm question – problem on Sunday evening and it is due Friday morning at 9 a.m. There will be no other readings during this time. We will start the Anthony Townsend book on the following Monday.


Week 7

Oct. 6

No class – I am at the ESC Conference

Oct. 8

ESC Conference

Mid-term due

Oct. 10

No class.

Week 8

Oct. 13

No class – Fall Break

Oct. 15

How to analyze digital media and contentious politics

15. Read pages 1-12 in Blogs and Bullets (pdf) – Blogs and Bullets

Pay particular attention to the “Five levels of analysis” in your reading notes.

Oct. 17


Today we will consider the case study of the Zapatistas, one of the first groups to rely on digital media and the Internet

16. Harry Cleaver, “The Zapatista Effect: The Internet and the Rise of an Alternative Political Fabric”

What does he mean by: information geurillas, “new political fabric,” “Zapatista effect”

Week 9

Oct. 20

The new “majoritarianism” of protest culture

17. Read: Paolo Gerbaudo, “Not Fearing to be Liked: The Majoritarianism of Contemporary Protest Culture

Explain this idea of a “new majoritarianism” in your reading notes.

Oct. 22


Case Study: Iran and the rumblings of a “new media revolution”

18. Blogs and Bullets (the entire document is linked under Oct. 15) pp. 13-31

Oct. 24


Protest and iconography – The Case of Neda Agha-Soltan


19. Nazila Fathi, “In a Death Seen Around the World, a Symbol of Iranian Protests”

In class we will watch A Death in Tehran.


Week 10

Oct. 27

The Origins of the Arab Spring


Read “Prelude to Revolution” in Manuel Castells, Networks of Outrage and Hope. pdf: Castells

Final Project Intro

Oct. 29


We will draw on the memoir of Wael Ghonim for our discussion of the revolution in Egypt (and of course on the ideas of collective action that we have already discussed.

22. Wael Ghonim, “Searching for a Savior” from Revolution 2,0: The Power of the People is Greater than the People in Power. pdf: Searching for a savior

Oct. 31

Egypt II

23. Wael Ghonim, “Kullena Khaled Said” from Revolution 2.0. pdf: Kullena Khaled Said


Week 11

Nov. 3

A “Tahrir moment” in the U.S.? #occupy

24. Manuel Castells, “Occupy Wall Street: Harvesting the Salt of the Earth” pdf: Occupy Wall Street- Harvesting the Salt of the Earth


We will watch 99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film in class.

Nov. 5

Making Sense of “Networked Protest”

25. Paolo Gebaudo, “‘Freindly’ Reunions: Social Media the Choreogrphy of Assembly” (from Tweets and the Streets: Social Media and Contemporary Activism) pdf: Gebaudo – Friendly Reunions

Nov. 7

Quiz covering our readings on social movements

There are some distinct similarities in the social movements we have examined over the last couple of weeks. The organizing goal of each was to bring about a “majoritarian” movement – one that included a broad range of people. How did they achieve this?

The quiz will be one multi-part question that will ask you to explain and provide examples for the following concepts:


• Choreography of Assembly

• The “sales tunnel” approach

• The importance of the “silent stand”

• Breaking down the “psychological barrier”

• “hybrid public space”


Week 12

Nov. 10

Citizenship and “DIY Citizenship”

26. Matt Ratto and Megan Boler, “Introduction” from DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media pdf: DIY Citizenship Intro

“DIY and Activism: New Modes of Civic Engagement and Participatory Politics” pdf:

Nov. 12

DIY Citizenship, continued

27. Henry Jenkins, “Fan Activism as Participatory Politics: The Case of the Harry Potter Alliance” pdf: Jenkins – Fan Activism as Participatory Politics

Proposal for final project due in reading notes.


Nov. 14

Kony 2012 and social movement branding

28. Graham Meikle, “Social Media, Visibility, and Activism: The Kony 2012 Campaign” pdf: Meikle – Social Media, Visibility and Activism


Week 13

Nov. 17

No reading for today. In class we will look more closely at final project proposals.

Nov. 19

Anthony Townsend, Smart Cities

Ch. 6 – “Have Nots”

Brief article on an initiative in Philadelphia called Keyspot

Nov. 21

Digital Humanitarianism


How AI, Twitter and digital volunteers are transforming humanitarian disaster response

Week 14

Nov. 24

Girls Who Code: Closing the Gender Gap


Cracking the Girl Code: How to End the Tech Gender Gap

Reshma Saujani’s Ambitious Plan for Technology

Annotated bibliography due on Google doc reading notes.

Nov. 26

No class – Thanksgiving Break

Nov. 28

No class – Thanksgiving Break


Week 15

Dec. 1

Final Project work

Dec. 3

Detailed outline due

This should be long enough and detailed enough that we can get an sound idea of your argument. So you should have looked through some primary sources (tweets, Facebook posts or whatever you are using) by now.

Put this on your google doc.

Dec. 5

Final Project Work

Week 16

Dec. 8

Last Day of Class

Dec. 11 – 1 p.m.

Final for 12:20 section (final project due)

Dec. 16 – 10 a.m.

Final for 10:10 section (final project due)



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