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

Bryan Stevenson

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

– George Orwell

Week 1

Jan. 15
• 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).

Jan. 16
Ethical frameworks
Should society operate on the idea “greatest good for the greatest number?” Or is it all cultural (just do what seems right to you)?
1. Read pp. 167-176 from this: pp. 168 (pdf)
In your reading notes, in addition to the summary of those pages, explain utilitarianism and provide an example.

Week 2

Jan. 19 – Martin Luther King Day – No class

Jan. 21
Ethical frameworks
Should society operate on the idea “greatest good for the greatest number?” Or is it all cultural (just do what seems right to you)?
1. Read pp. 167-176 from this: pp. 168 (pdf)
Reading notes: In addition to the summary of those pages, explain utilitarianism and provide an example.

Jan. 23
Ethical Frameworks II
Are there absolute laws that we must abide by?
2. Louis Alvin Day, “Ethics and Moral Reasoning,” from Ethics and Moral Reasoning (pdf) Ethics and moral reasoning
Reading notes: In addition to the summary of those pages, explain deontology, relativism, “the situation definition”

Extra credit opportunity: Go see “The Body of an American” at the the Wilma Theater (there is a special discount for students). Bring me the ticket stub and get a few points added to your final grade.

Week 3

Free Speech/Free Press

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 12.21.51 PM

Jan. 26
3. • John Stuart Mill, “On the Liberty of Thought and Discussion,” from On Liberty (pdf) On Liberty – Chapter 2
• Owen Fiss, “The Silencing Effect of Speech, from The Irony of Free Speech (pdf) Fiss – The Irony of Free Speech

Reading notes: Do a brief combined summary of the readings. What is meant by “countervalues” int he context of free speech? What about “liberalism”?  Describe Mills’ “four distinct grounds” in his argument for freedom of opinon and expression?

Jan. 28
“Freedom of the Press”
4. George Orwell, “The Freedom of the Press” The original preface in the first edition of Animal Farm.

Reading notes: Summarize Orwell’s take on freedom of the press and speech and pull out three quotes that you think exemplify that stance.

Jan. 30
Free speech, free press and making sense of Charlie Hebdo
5. Hugh Scofield, “Charlie Hebdo and Its Place in French Journalism,BBC
On the Media, The Attack on Charlie Hebdo, Reckoning with Free Speech and More (audio)

 Week 4

The Ethics of Storytelling
Feb. 2 (these are the readings etc. from Friday. We didn’t get through them all so they are back on for today)

Free speech, free press and making sense of Charlie Hebdo
5. Hugh Scofield, “Charlie Hebdo and Its Place in French Journalism,BBC
On the Media, The Attack on Charlie Hebdo, Reckoning with Free Speech and More (audio)

Feb. 3
“Reflections on the Recent Attacks in Paris: Are We Really All Charlie Hebdo?”
11-12:15 at the Wolfington Teletorium, Madeville Hall

Are we all really Charlie?
Click to enlarge.


Feb. 4
No class. Instead, please attend the discussion, Are We All Really Charlie Hebdo at the Wolfington Teletorium on Feb. 3 during free period (11-12:15)

Feb. 6

6. Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics
Rolling Stone story “A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA” 
Workshop: Create a timeline of the impact of the Rolling Stone story – from as far as you can go back to the present using Dipity. (We will talk about this in class, but you will work on it for a couple of weeks).

Reading notes: What ethical boundaries do you believe were crossed in the reporting of the Rolling Stone article? Think about the responsibilities we have talked about – the press’ responsibility to us and ours to the press.

Week 5

Feb. 9

7. Listen to: On The Media, The UVA Story.

Reading notes: Write down three ways the reporter on this story could have done a better job. Explain why each matters.
Discussion of Rolling Stone rape  and timeline project.

Feb. 11

Last-minute schedule change. A journalist has agreed to Skype in to talk about a group called “No Notoriety,” which is a group formed by the parents of children killed in the Aurora, Colo. theater shooting. Here are some things to help you prepare:

Victim’s Parents’ Want “No Notoriety” for Mass Shooters” (CNN video)

Here is the journalist who will be with us by Skype.

In your reading notes, please come up with three questions for the journalist.

Conclusions about freedom of speech, freedom/duties of the press.

Introduction to technological determinism, ethics, digital media

Feb. 13

From the cover of Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman.

8 • Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death, Ch. 1-2 (Here’s a pdf of the book Neil Postman – Amusing Ourselves To Death)

Reading notes: What does Postman mean by, “The Medium is the Metaphor?” This is one of the required books and should be available at the bookstore or elsewhere if you need it.

Week 6 

Feb. 16

9. •  Amusing Ourselves to Death, Ch. 3-4

Reading notes: Postman focuses on this idea of the “typographic” in chapters 3-4. Explain what he means by this. Is his argument persuasive? Why/Why not?

Feb. 18


10. • Amusing Ourselves to Death, Ch. 5

Postman takes aim at the photograph and photography in this chapter. What’s his point? Explain this: “The picture forced exposition into the background and in some instances obliterated it altogether.”

Feb. 20 – No classroom meeting (reading still due)

11. • Amusing Ourselves to Death, Ch. 7 – “And … now this”

Take-home quiz:

Quiz on Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, Chapters 1-5 and 7.

Here are two short-answer questions. Answer each in 300-500 words. Use examples to help explain your answer and include any photographs that you describe in your answer.

Put your responses in your reading notes with a heading of “Postman Quiz”

  1. In another piece of writing, Postman wrote:

“The printing press, the computer, and television are not therefore simply machines which convey information. They are metaphors through which we conceptualize reality in one way or another. They will classify the world for us, sequence it, frame it, enlarge it, reduce it, argue a case for what it is like. Through these media metaphors, we do not see the world as it is. We see it as our coding systems are. Such is the power of the form of information.”

Explain what he means using examples and quotes from Amusing Ourselves to Death.

  1. One quote from the book that we have talked about a lot is this one:

“The concept of truth is intimately linked to the biases of forms of expression.”

Explain what Postman means. Be sure to use examples.

Week 7

Feb. 23 (no classroom meeting, readings still due)

Take-home quiz due on reading notes.

Feb. 25

• Dipity timeline due.
• 12. Zeynep Tufekci, Social Media’s Small, Positive Role in Human Relationships (pdf)

Zeynep raises this idea that some people may be “cybersocial.” Explain what she means by this and your reaction to the idea.

Feb. 27

13. • danah boyd, “Participating in the Always on Lifestyle” (Social Media Reader, ch. 6) Boyd – Participating in the always on lifestyle
Explain these: “always-on ethos,” microdata, “laissez-faire approach to social media,” asynchronicity, affordances

• Intro to the breaching assignment.

Week 8

March 2

Aren’t “technology” and “digital technology” and “social media” all really the same thing?

14. Read:

• “Teenager’s View of Social Media, Written by an Actual Teen

“An Old Fogey’s Analysis of a Teenager’s View on Social Media”

March 4

Race and internet publics


15. Read:

danah boyd: “White Flight in Networked Publics: How Race and Class Shaped American Teen Engagement with MySpace and Facebook” (pdf) Boyd – White Flight in Networked Publics 2

Feminista Jones, “Is Twitter the Underground Railroad of Activism?”

Reading notes:

dana boyd writes: “… I illustrate how distinctions in social network site adoption and the perceptions teens – and adults – have about these sites and their users reflect broader narratives of race and class in American society.”

How does she do this? Do you agree? Is her argument convincing?

March 6

Workshop on norms breaching experiment in Bronstein Hall.

Week 9

Spring break

Week 10


This week we’ll talk about anonymity – it’s advantages and drawbacks.


March 16

16. Jonathan Mahler, Who Spewed That Abuse? Anonymous Yik Yak App Isn’t Telling

Reading notes:

Summarize this article and write about your thoughts on anonymity. What are the pros and cons?

March 18


From Vox.

17. Read: “Confessions of a Former Internet Troll” 

Reading notes: Place trolling and anonymity into the ethical frameworks we discussed earlier in the semester (utilitarianism, deontology, etc.) and make an argument for or against anonymity.

March 19

Extra credit opportunity. See the flyer below for an interesting talk and a chance to boost your final grade. Come and see me after the talk and note your presence.

Leigh poster

March 20

Real names

18. danah boyd, “Real Names Policies are an Abuse of Power.” + comments

Week 11 

Image from Flickr

March 23

Surveillance – The Panopticon

19. Michel Foucault, “Panopticism” from Discipline and Punish pdf: Foucault D and P

Explain the panopticon and it’s purpose in your reading notes. In your explanation, write about what the author means by the “automatic functioning of power.”

One of the texts for this section is the film We Live in Public, which is available to rent or buy online ($2.99 to rent at Amazon, for example). We will be discussing the film a week from today, so watch it by then. Also, you will have reading notes due on the film next Monday.

1. In appearance, it is merely the solution of a technical problem; but, through it, a whole type of society emerges

2. Hence the major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power. So to arrange things that the surveillance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action; that the perfection of power should tend to render its actual exercise unnecessary.”

3. In short, it arranges things in such a way that the exercise of power is not added on from the outside, like a rigid, heavy constraint, to the functions it invests, but is so subtly present in them as to increase their efficiency by itself increasing its own points of contact.

4. panopticism???

5. He is seen, but he does not see; he is the object of information, never a subject in communication.

March 25

Privacy and the corporate gaze – Google Street View

20. Google’s announcement of Streetview

Boring v. Google – This a crash course in reading legal documents. There is a lot of legal jargon in this. You don’t need to know any of it. Just figure out what the court is saying about the claims of invasion of privacy etc.

March 27

Peer review for the norms breaching assignment.

Week 12

Your assignment over the weekend is to watch (and take notes on) “We Live in Public.”

Unfortunately the film is no longer available to rent online. One way to watch it is to do a free trial of Hulu-plus and then cancel it. So I would ask you to do that. I mentioned in one section that we would watch it in class, but I would rather do it this way.  Here is a link to the film on Hulu.

Note your observations of the film as you watch and write them in your reading notes.



March 30

21. Discussion of We Live in Public

Reading notes due are We Live in Public, so be sure to write some things down as you watch.

April 1

Security vs. “The Right to Know” – The War on Photography

22. Read: Radley Balko, “The War on Cameras: OIt’s Never been Easier – or More Dangerous – to Film Police”

In your reading notes, write about the ethical conundrum (through the ethical frameworks we have talked about) raised when we all have a camera, particularly when it comes to recording police.


April 3 – No Class

Week 13

April 6 – No class

April 8

Moral Panics and “the Media”

23.William Patry, “Moral Panics, Folk Devils and Fear as Tactical Weapons” pdf: Moral Panics and Folk Devils

also, “Copyright Owners and Moral Panics” pp 139-160 (same pdf)

Copyright I

April 10

23.William Patry, “Moral Panics, Folk Devils and Fear as Tactical Weapons” pdf: Moral Panics and Folk Devils

also, “Copyright Owners and Moral Panics” pp 139-160 (same pdf)

Week 14

April 13

24. Read: “Sudden Death of the Record,” in Mark Coleman’s Playback, pdf: Death of the Record




April 15



We continue with our discussion of copyright this week with a look at Napster

25. The Napster Generation

Watch: Lars Ulrich and Chuck D. on the Charlie Rose Show debate Napster

In your reading notes briefly describe Ulrich and Chuck D.’s arguments.

In class we’ll watch Downloaded



April 17

“Downloaded”, continued

Reverse reading notes. Watch the film in class and write reading notes afterward.

Week 15

April 20

Girl Talk
Girl Talk (promotional photo)

27. Watch: RiP: A Remix Manifesto from Laurent LaSalle on Vimeo.

In the film, they focus on four main points of the “manifesto.” They include:

1. Culture always builds on the past.

2. The past always tries to control the future.

3. Our future is becoming less free.

4. To build free societies you must limit the control of the past.

In your reading notes, briefly explain each of these in the context of the film. Provide an example.

April 22

Fair Use

So when can I use creative works that I didn’t create?

Be sure to watch RIP: A Remix Manifesto (see above)

April 24

Workshop on mashup in Bronstein

Week 16

April 27

11:15 section – In Merion 150 – Fair Use

Here is a good overview of fair use. Also check out the “next page” link from this site.

1:25 p.m. section – Mash-up workshop in Bronstein

April 29 

1:25 section in Bronstein

11:15 section:

“Values in Technology Design and Use”

Guest instructor – Lindsey Ems

Reading: Values In Tech – April29

May 1 – Last day of class. Take-home final assigned – in Bronstein

Take-home final and mash-up due (on Google doc):

11:15 section: May 9, 10:30 a.m.

1:25 section: May 7, 1 p.m.





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