The "new" in this course's title is something of a misnomer; the Internet as we know it (meaning primarily the world wide web) has been around for over a dozen years, and that's only one of the more recent network protocols invented for computer-based communication. This course will serve as an introduction to the study of digital media, new and otherwise, with attention to the pre-history of the Internet technologies we're now familiar with, the theoretical modes of reading that such technologies have helped give birth to, and the social and political effects that these technologies have had.
Blog (20%): Each of you will maintain a blog specifically devoted to this course, and will post in it regularly, using that space as an ongoing portfolio of your reading responses (which will make up at least one post weekly), thoughts about the course discussions, links to material relevant to the course, drafts of writing done for course papers, and anything else you'd like to contribute. This part of the course also requires you to keep up-to-date on your fellow students' blogs, and to comment frequently on their posts. The point of the blog is the free exchange of information they produce and the social relationships they foster; you'll only get as much out of this part of the course as you put into it. Your grade for this segment of the course will be determined by the quality of your participation in the blog; some portion of that quality has to do with quantity, but I'm not going to name a number of required posts for the semester. Instead, what I want you to think about are the consistency of your posts each week, your engagement with the ideas you're writing about, your generosity in reading and commenting on your peers' posts, and so on. You'll receive a blog grade each week; I'll post those grades to Sakai for your information.
Class Wiki (20%): Over the course of the semester, you will all work together to build a wiki covering any aspects of new media of interest to you. Early in the semester, we'll take a look at some wiki projects and think about what purposes you'd like your wiki to serve; after that, getting it built will be up to you. Each of you will be expected to create a minimum of ten new entries, and to be an active editor on the entries created by your colleagues, in order to PASS this part of the course. Better grades require more. Your grade on this project will be determined partially individually, based on the effort you put forward on the site, and partially communally, based on the overall quality of the wiki's content. More information on this project to come.
Midterm Project (15%): For the midterm web project, each of you will write a 4 to 6 page critical analysis of a website, technology, or other Internet-based phenomenon of your choosing, using the critical texts that we have read to that point in the semester in order to facilitate and deepen your analysis. Each of you will post, in the weeks leading up to the paper, a brief proposal for this project on your blog, and you will comment on the proposals of your peers (thus getting feedback on your own proposal as well). Your paper must be delivered electronically, in any form you see fit. More information about this project will follow.
Term Project (25%): Each of you will undertake a semester-long writing project, in which you contribute to the field of new media studies; there are two options from which you can choose:
1. Critical project: This is the standard term paper project, with a twist. For this project, you'll produce a 12 to 15-page research-based term paper making an analytical argument about some aspect of new media, publishing this paper on the web in a form that you will develop, using the technologies that the internet makes available to supplement your argument.
2. Creative project: In this option, you will develop a significant new media project of your own. This project can take whatever shape you like, but it should be delivered to me via the web, and it should in some fashion reflect in its content the choices you have made about its form. You will include within this project, perhaps as an appendix, a 5-page critical paper exploring the relationship between your project and the readings we do this semester.
Both options have a number of required steps, in which you'll post a proposal for the project and various pieces of preliminary work to your blog. More information, as you might guess, will be forthcoming during the semester.
Final Presentation (10%): At the end of the semester, each of you will present the results of your term project to the class. This presentation will be brief but formal and extremely polished. Details to come.
Attendance and Participation (10%): See policies below for more information. Bear in mind that participation doesn't mean simply doing the work, or simply speaking up in class, but actively working to make the class a positive learning experience for you and your fellow students.
GRADING AND OTHER POLICIES
My grading policy is pretty straight-forward, and comes in two parts:
The grade of B+ is yours to lose. Here are ways that you can lose it:
1. Miss more than three days of class. I know you all have a lot going on, but this class is your job this semester, and I want you to take it that seriously. You each have one day of vacation and two days of sick leave -- that is, one day that you can miss for whatever reason, and two days that you can miss with an official medical excuse. Use them wisely. Further absences will affect your final grade in unpleasant ways.
2. Show up late to class more than twice. It drives me absolutely bonkers when people walk into class after it's already begun (and if I'm talking, even if just to make preliminary announcements, class has begun). It's both rude and distracting. Get to class on time; every three late arrivals will add up to one unexcused absence.
3. Turn your assignments in late. You each have three grace days to use as needed. For instance, if the term paper proposal is due on a Monday, but you have a big exam on Monday, you can use a grace day and turn that proposal in on Tuesday. Please note, however: a "day" is twenty-four hours long, and ends at 5.00 pm. If you don't turn the proposal in until Wednesday morning, that's two grace days. Any lateness beyond these three grace days will count against your grade. Please note that because these grace days are freebies, I will give no extensions. Don't even ask.
4. Don't take the blog seriously. The blog assignment is a key element of the course. The blog is taking the place of formal, print-on-paper reading responses, and it's also a space in which you can feel free to explore your ideas about the class material in whatever way most appeals to you. There is no particular quantity of posts that will get you a decent grade on the blogging requirement. However, not posting regularly, not displaying a real engagement with the material, and not reading and commenting upon your classmates' posts constitutes a failure to take the blog seriously.
5. Fail to do the reading. Much of our in-class work is built around discussion, and you cannot participate fruitfully in a discussion if you aren't prepared. Read carefully, take notes on the reading, post your responses on your blog, and participate in class discussions. With respect to which:
6. Fail to participate collegially in class discussions. You don't need to speak every day. And you absolutely must not monopolize the discussion. But both never speaking and appearing to overly enjoy the sound of your own voice constitute a failure of collegiality. Our discussions are a group endeavor, meant to help each member of the class reach the greatest possible understanding of the material.
7. Turn in a weak, ill-thought-through, unpolished, dull, pointless, or generally mediocre project. Need I say more?
8. Give a scattered, unpolished, unengaged, or OVERLY LONG presentation. Again, 'nuff said, except about the length question: I'm dead serious about this. I will stop you when time is up, and if I have to stop you, your grade will suffer. Practice your presentation, and time yourself carefully.
9. Plagiarize. Academic dishonesty in any form will result in automatic failure of this class. Period. If you have any concerns about what constitutes academic dishonesty, refer to your student handbook, or ask me.
The grades of A- and A must be earned. Here are ways to earn them:
1. Produce excellent projects. What constitutes excellence? Doing more than simply completing the terms of the assignment. An excellent project is sophisticated, nuanced, engaging, and insightful. It is technically polished and free of any kind of errors. It shows evidence of a substantive, thoughtful engagement with the course materials. It is, above all, interesting, designed to draw the reader into full engagement with its content and its form.
2. Maintain an excellent blog. Make me look forward to visiting your blog often, and stimulate thoughtful conversation in your comments.
3. Contribute to an excellent wiki. Make sure that your own entries are substantive, and keep an eye on the project as a whole, taking the responsibility for making the entire wiki as complete and polished as you can.
4. Participate excellently in class. Excellence in class participation means not simply speaking frequently, but contributing in an active and generous way to the work of the class as a whole, by asking questions, offering interpretations, politely challenging your colleagues, and graciously accepting challenges in return.
5. Deliver an excellent presentation. An excellent presentation is one that is focused, organized, engaging, and to the point. It has what my predecessor, Brian Stonehill, used to refer to as "heart, smarts, and sparkle."
The following required books are available at Huntley:
Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort, eds., The New Media Reader (NMR)
David Trend, ed., Reading Digital Culture (RDC)
Other required readings will be made available online, as indicated in the schedule.
|W Jan. 17||Introduction to the syllabus, course website and so forth|
|M Jan. 22||Julian Dibbell, "Portrait of the Blogger as a Young Man"
Rebecca Mead, "You've Got Blog: How to Put Your Boyfriend, Your Business, and Your Life On-Line"
|W Jan. 24||Steve Himmer, "The Labyrinth Unbound"
Brock Read, "Can Wikipedia Ever Make the Grade?"
Today's class will meet in the ITB classroom
|M Jan. 29||No class: Prof. Fitzpatrick out of town|
|W Jan. 31||Janet Murray, "Inventing the Medium" (NMR)
Lev Manovich, "New Media from Borges to HTML" (NMR)
|2. Historical Contexts|
|M Feb. 5||Vannevar Bush, "As We May Think" (NMR)
Alan Turing, "Computing Machinery and Intelligence" (NMR)
Norbert Wiener, "Men, Machines, and the World About" (NMR)
|W Feb. 7||J. C. R. Licklider, "Man-Computer Symbiosis" (NMR)
Theodor H. Nelson, "A File Structure for The Complex, The Changing, and the Indeterminate" (NMR)
William Gibson, "Johnny Mnemonic" (RDC)
|3. Literary Contexts|
|M Feb. 12||Jorge Luis Borges, "The Garden of Forking Paths" (NMR)
Raymond Queneau, et al, "Six Selections by the Oulipo" (NMR)
|W Feb. 14||Michael Joyce, afternoon (must be installed and run on Mac, in Classic mode)
Michael Joyce, "Siren Shapes: Exploratory and Constructive Hypertexts" (NMR)
George Landow, "Hypertext and Critical Theory" (RDC)
|M Feb. 19||J. David Bolter, "Seeing and Writing" (NMR)
Stuart Moulthrop, "You Say You Want a Revolution? Hypertext and the Laws of Media" (NMR)
Robert Coover, "The End of Books" (NMR)
|W Feb. 21||Brenda Laurel, "Computers as Theatre" (RDC)
Espen Aarseth, "Nonlinearity and Literary Theory" (NMR)
Proposal for midterm project due
|4. Media Change|
|M Feb. 26||Marshall McLuhan, Two Selections (NMR)
Hans Magnus Enzensberger, "Constituents of a Theory of the Media" (NMR)
|W Feb. 28||Jean Baudrillard, "Requiem for the Media" (NMR)
Raymond Williams, "The Technology and the Society" (NMR)
Theodor H. Nelson, from Computer Lib / Dream Machines (NMR)
|M Mar. 5||Lev Manovich, "What Is New Media?" (pdf forthcoming)|
|W Mar. 7||J. David Bolter & Richard Grusin, from Remediation: Introduction and Chapter 1
Midterm project due
|M/W Mar. 12-14||No class â€“ spring break|
|5. New Bodies|
|M Mar. 19||Donna Haraway, "A Cyborg Manifesto" (NMR)
Felix Guattari, "Machinic Heterogenesis" (RDC)
|W Mar. 21||Critical Art Ensemble, "The Coming Age of the Flesh Machine" (RDC)
Allucquere Rosanne (Sandy) Stone, "Will the Real Body Please Stand Up? Boundary Stories about Virtual Encounters" (RDC)
|M Mar. 26||No class -- Prof F. out of town
Term project proposal due
|6. New Identities|
|W Mar. 28||Sherry Turkle, "Video Games and Computer Holding Power" (NMR)
Sherry Turkle, "Who Am We?" (RDC)
Julian Dibbell, "A Rape in Cyberspace; or, How an Evil Clown, a Haitian Trickster Spirit, Two Wizards, and a Cast of Dozens Turned a Database into a Society" (RDC)
|M Apr. 2||Laura Miller, "Women & Children First: Gender and the Settling of the Electronic Frontier" (RDC)
Steve Silberman, "We're Teen, We're Queer, and We've Got E-mail" (RDC)
|W Apr. 4||Lisa Nakamura, "Race In/For Cyberspace: Identity Tourism and Racial Passing on the Internet" (RDC)
Cameron Bailey, "Virtual Skin: Articulating Race in Cyberspace" (RDC)
Mark Warschauer, "Language, Identity, and the Internet"
|7. New Communities|
|M Apr. 9||Pierre Levy, "Collective Intelligence" (RDC)
Mark Poster, "Cyber Democracy: The Internet and the Public Sphere" (RDC)
Term project stage 2 due
|W Apr. 11||Howard Rheingold, "The Virtual Community" (RDC)
Guillermo Gomez-Pena, "The Virtual Barrio @ the Other Frontier" (RDC)
|M Apr. 16||Avital Ronell, "A Disappearance of Community" (RDC)
Pew Internet & American Life Project, "The Strength of Internet Ties" and "Social Networking Sites and Teens"
|8. New Disciplines|
|W Apr. 18||David Silver, "Where Is Internet Studies?"
Term project draft due to peer reviewer
|M Apr. 23||Espen Aarseth, "How We Became Postdigital: From CyberStudies to Game Studies"
McKenzie Wark, "Cyberculture Studies: An Antidisciplinary Approach (Version 3.0)"
|W Apr. 25||Final presentations
Comments due back from peer reviewer
|M Apr. 30||Final presentations|
|W May 2||Final presentations
Term project due