The internet is here. It is estimated that there are over 200 million
internet users worldwide. What does this mean? How will this effect
us? (And how will it effect people who aren't us?) Will the internet
change the way we interact? Will the internet change our vision of
community? How can we make sense of all this?
Making sense of the internet is a difficult, perhaps impossible,
task. In this course we will critically examine the internet from a
number of different perspectives. A rough thematic outline of the
course can be found here.
I have several main goals for this course:
- I want to have fun, while critically and thoughtfully examining the
internet as a social and cultural phenomena.
- I want you to gain a greater understanding of the internet.
- I want to help you find a set of tools and metaphors that are
helpful for analyzing the internet and other technologies.
- I want you to gain a greater awareness of the social and political
consequences of technologies.
- As we examine "virtual reality", I hope we also get a chance to
critically look at some aspects of "real life".
- I want you to leave the class with more (and different) questions
than those that you started the class with.
It might be useful at this point to say a few words about what this
class in not. This is not a class on how to use the internet. Nor is
this a class on how to design web pages or write programs for the web.
This class is also not a physics or math class. This class is mainly
concerned with the human consequences of the internet.
Paul Levinson, The Soft Edge: A natural History and Future of the
Information revolution. Routledge, 1998.
David Porter (ed.), Internet Culture. Routledge, 1997.
Robert W. McChesney, Rich Media poor Democracy: Communication
Politics in Dubious Times. University of Illinois Press, 1999.
Preston Gralla, How the Internet Works. QUE Press, 1999.
And lots and lots of online and reserve readings.
Your evaluation will be based on the following:
These percent values are approximate.
There will be no exams. I will assign grades (for those who so opt) by
following the guidelines on page
8 of the COA Course Catalog. I do not have any quota of A's, B's,
- Short Response Papers: 20 percent.
- Other Writing Assignments: 25 percent.
- Class Participation: 30 percent.
- Final Manifesto:25 percent.
You do not need any computer skills to take this course. You should,
however, be willing to learn your way around the web. This course
will involve a fair amount of reading and writing.
Short Response Papers
Throughout the term you will write four or five short response
papers. Guidelines for these papers can be found here.
Other Writing Assignments
In addition to the short papers,there will be several other writing
assignments. These will include an initial personal essay and several
reports on the "virtual community" that you join.
Online Community Explorations
A major part of the course will be your joining, participating in, and
reflecting upon an online community. You will report on your
experiences in your online community both in writing and class
discussions. We will talk about this assignment in class, and more
details will appear here soon.
At the end of the term, you will write a final manifesto. This should
be an informed, opinionated, written piece -- not an uninformed rant.
This work should be around five to ten pages and constitute a
significant synthesis of some of the ideas we've discussed throughout
the course. I would like to publish these manifestos on the course
Policies and Stuff
- The final version of the course syllabus will be on the course web
page. The syllabus and all policies are open to negotiation.
- All course work must be completed by the end of the term. I will not grant
an incomplete except in extreme circumstances.
- I expect you to attend class. Please let me know if you're going to
miss a class.
- Academic misconduct -- cheating, plagarizing, etc. -- is bad. Any cases
of academic misconduct will result in a judicial hearing, as per
pp. 14-15 of the COA handbook. Possible consequences range from
failure of the assignment to expulsion. For more, see the statement on academic
misconduct passed unanimously by the faculty in winter of 1999.
[ Dave ]
[ COA ]
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