Week 1

Jan. 17
• Introduction to the course
– setting up and sharing your reading notes Google doc

Week 2

Jan. 20
No class – Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Jan. 22
1. • Marshall McLuhan, “The Medium is the Message” (pdf)
• Blown to Bits – Preface and Ch. 1
• Reading critically – Six Reading Habits to Develop in Your First Year at Harvard

Terms/concepts (these should be defined in your reading notes): From McLuhan – medium, content.  From Blown to Bits: digital, replicate, social disruption, koan, Moore’s Law.

Jan. 24
2. • Culture and Technology, Ch. 3-4

I am told that the bookstore is behind with the book so I am posting a PDF with chapters 3,4,8,9 – 3 and 4 are for Friday and 8 and 9 are for next Wednesday.

Culture and Technology, Readings 3-9

Terms: Cultural Determinism, Technological Determinism, Control

Week 3

Jan. 27
3. Guest Speaker: Collette Sosnowy, Sarah Lawrence College
• Reading: Catherine Arnst, “Health 2.0: Patients as Partners

No class for the 10:10 a.m. class.

Jan. 29
4. • Culture and Technology, Ch. 8-9
Norms Breaching Experiment assigned (assignment handout in class)

Terms: causality, “thingness,” polysemic, technology

Jan. 31

5. • Garfinkel, Studies of the Routine Grounds of Everyday Activities.

Week 4

Feb. 3

6. • danah boyd, “Participating in the Always on Lifestyle” (Social Media Reader, ch. 6)

terms: “always-on ethos,” microdata, “laissez-faire approach to social media,” asynchronicity, affordances

Feb. 5

7. • Ellison et al., “The Benefits of ‘Facebook Friends’: Social Capital and College Students’ Use of Online Social Network Sites” (pdf)
Ellison Facebook and social capital*

* They use a regression analysis in this article to analyze how and why college students use Facebook, so there are a lot of numbers and charts. Don’t let that get in the way of the important stuff – the concepts they discuss (like the different forms of “social capital”) and their “discussion” near the end of the article.

terms/concepts: social capital (bridging, bonding, maintained), weak ties, strong ties

Feb. 7

8. • Zeynep Tufekci, Social Media’s Small, Positive Role in Human Relationships (pdf)

Week 5

Feb. 10

9. • Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death Ch. 1-4 In case your copy hasn’t come in yet, here is a pdf:

Neil Postman – Amusing Ourselves To Death

terms: The Huxley-Orwell comparison, epistemology

Feb. 12

10. • Neil Postman, Ch. 1-4 continued

Discussion of/Work on Norms Breaching Experiment

Feb. 14

Snow day – postponed 


Guest Speaker: Colin Helb

12. • Reading: Arthur Asa Berger’s Seeing is Believing (pdf) Berger-SeeingIsBelieving(Ch1&2)-reduced

Week 6

Feb. 17

13. • Postman, Ch. 5-6

terms/concepts: information-action ratio, context-free information, “the graphic revolution,” “peek-a-boo world”, entertainment as “supraideology” 

Feb. 19

10:10 class – Guest Speaker: Colin Helb • Reading: Arthur Asa Berger’s Seeing is Believing (pdf) Berger-SeeingIsBelieving(Ch1&2)-reduced

11:15 class – Postman Ch. 7, “Now … This”

Feb. 21

First draft of Norms Breaching Experiment due. Peer review.

Week 7

Feb. 24

14, • Blown to Bits, Appendix – The Internet as System and Spirit (pdf, if you don’t have the book)
• Video – There and Back Again: A Packet’s Tale. How Does the Internet Work?

terms: circuit switching, packet switching, IP address, separate content and carrier.

Feb. 26

15. • Tim Wu, “The Radicalism of the Internet Revolution” (pdf) Wu – Radicalism of the Internet Revolution
• Social Media Reader – Siva Vaidhyanathan, “Open Source as Culture/Culture as Open Source”

Feb. 28
16. • Social Media Reader – Clay Shirky, “Gin, Television and Social Surplus”

Week 8

March 3
• Midterm Review

Norms Breaching Experiment report due.

March 5

March 7
No class

Week 9

Spring Break!

Week 10

During the first half of the semester we laid out a framework that helps us understand how media and technology can impact society. We talked about how an entertainment medium like television might affect how we interact with each other and important political institutions. In the second half of the semester we will dig deeper into specific ways digital communications challenges old ways of thinking about things like copyright, freedom of expression and privacy.

Importantly, we will bring the ideas of “ethos and architecture” and “the hacker ethic” with us to see how they hold up in real cases.

March 17

Is the Internet and Web a clean break from past forms of communications? Should new rules apply? How does networked digital communication impact our relationships with businesses? We’ll start there.

The Cluetrain Manifesto

17. We will cover the Cluetrain Manifesto in class, so there are no reading notes for Monday. This will be a sort of “flipped” – we will talk about the Cluetrain Manifesto in class and then you will do reading notes for the next class.

March 19

Applying the 95 theses

18. We will talk about a case study – The Applebees social media fiasco -using the 95 theses as a framework. This will also be a flipped class, so you will write notes and read after the class.

Article for after-class reading notes

March 21

No class

Week 11

March 24

Creative expression and its limits: Copyright

RIP: The Remix Manifesto – Part 1 (in class)

19. Reading notes on the first part of the film due Wednesday

As you do the reading notes, address these points:

• Culture Always Builds on the Past
• The Past Always Tries to Control the Future
• The Future is Becoming Less Free

March 26
RIP: The Remix Manifest – Part II (in class)

20. Again, reading notes after class.

March 28

From the Social Media ReaderREMIX: How Creativity is Being Strangled by the law

21. For this reading we are back to reading notes as usual. So you will have done two sets of reading notes for this class.

Week 12

March 31

No class

April 2

What are ways to remedy the copyright conundrum?

22. “About” page of Creative Commons (Also read History, and Case Studies).

Mash-up project assigned.

April 4

Other ways of regulating content online

We have spent the last couple of weeks talking about the ways copyright controls creativity. Starting today we will look at other controls (or attempts at control) online.

A quote ton consider:
“Society has struggled to find a metaphor for electronic communication that captures the ways in which it is the same as the media of the past and the ways in which it is different.”
23. Blown to Bits, “You Can’t Say That on the Internet” (Chapter 7)

Week 13

April 7

“Pervasive Image Capture”: What happens when we all have a camera?

• Filming the Police

24. Read: Glik v. Cunniffe (amended complain to U.S. District Court)

April 9

• Filming the Police II

25. Read: First Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Glik v. Cunniffe


April 11

Soldiers, cameras and war

We will continue the discussion of “greased information” by talking about photos taken by soldiers and others during war.

26. Here is a quick reading.

Week 14

April 14

In-class mash-up work day

April 16

Is creativity online being locked down by the devices we choose?

“Appliance” and “Generative” media

27. Reading/viewing: Jonathon Zittrain “The Future of the Internet and How to Stop it” (video)

The talk is about his book The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It. (Important book if you are into this kind of stuff).

There is no class on Wednesday. Instead, class will be held on Thursday during free period in Barbelin 265. You will join other COM 201 classes for a debate over iPhone vs. Android to illustrate the Zittrain concepts of appliance and generative media.

April 18

Easter break – No class

Week 15

April 21

Easter Break – No class

April 23

Always being watched.

“Big Brother is WWWatching You”

28. Michel Foucault, “Discipline and Punish”

Questions to consider”

• What does Foucault mean by “panopticism?”

• Why are you reading this? What does it have to do with networked and digital media?


April 25

No class today – I am at a conference. The reading notes are still due on Rheingold though.

29. Howard Rheingold, “Always-On Panopticon or Cooperation Amplifier?” –  Rheingold (pdf)

Week 16

April 28

Mash-Up due

April 30

30. Terms and Conditions May Apply

We are back to reverse reading notes for the next two days. So write your notes after class.

May 1

31. Terms and Conditions May Apply II

We are back to reverse reading notes for the next two days. So write your notes after class.

May 2

Test run of the final.

Week 17

May 5

No class.


10:10 a.m. section – Monday, May 12, 3:15 p.m.

11:15 a.m. section – Thursday, May 8, 3:15 p.m.


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