You can find the syllabus here.
Before we begin…
It is useful for you to know how technology works. Unfortunately we will not be able to go through this in great detail in the course. Fortunately there are some excellent resources online. See for example: How does the Internet work?, How Internet Infrastructure Works, and McNamee et al, How the Internet Works: A guide for policy-makers. European Digital Rights.
Social media use in 2018. Pew Research Center http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/
For the asynchronous work you will be required to watch video (often an episode of Black Mirror) and answer questions relating to the readings and the video. The idea is that the video should inspire you to think more broadly about the technological issues but the focus should be on the theory and readings. When you answer the questions you should not tell me the plot or details in the episode (more than necessary) but focus on the analysis.
Here is a fun Black Mirror quiz which you can take without having seen the episodes yet: Our Surveillance Society or Black Mirror
This quiz asks if you can tell the difference between surveillance techniques which currently exist and techniques used in Black Mirror episodes. For each question select Surveillance Society or Black Mirror. This was inspired by @hypervisible’s thread on invasive surveillance.
Module 1 Introduction
As an introduction we are going to discuss Greenfield: A Sociology of the Smartphone Longreads & Twenge: Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?
Is she right about you?
Watch: Black Mirror: Nosedive (S0301)
Module 1 additional material
Tim Wu, The Tyranny of Convenience, New York Times Opinion. Feb. 16, 2018.
Convenience is the most underestimated and least understood force in the world today. As a driver of human decisions, it may not offer the illicit thrill of Freud’s unconscious sexual desires or the mathematical elegance of the economist’s incentives. Convenience is boring. But boring is not the same thing as trivial.
Module 2 Social Media
A good place to start is Julien Hopkins: How to Define Social Media – An Academic Summary.
The readings for this module will be chapter 2 in Christian Fuchs What is Social Media: A critical introduction and Joseph Bernstein: Alienated, Alone, & Angry: What the Digital Revolution Really Did To Us.
The video to be discussed for this module is
Module 3 History and Digital Divides
This module covers a wide area in a short amount of time. We have the nuts and bolts of the creation of the internet in the text by Raphael Cohen-Almagor: Internet History and discuss The Logic of Digital Utopianism by Sascha Dickel & Jan-Felix Schrape.
This then shifts to the issues of the digital divide where we will read Jan A.G.M. van Dijk Closing the Digital Divide: The Role of Digital Technologies on Social Development, Well-Being of All and the Approach of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
The video for this module is Digits: Connecting to the Future (Schnall, 2016)
Module 3 Additional Resources
Andrew Marantz The Dark Side of Techno-Utopianism: Big technological shifts have always empowered reformers. They have also empowered bigots, hucksters, and propagandists.
Barbrook, Richard; Cameron, Andy. “The Californian Ideology”. Imaginary Futures. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
Caroline Levander and Peter Decherney The COVID-igital Divide
Module 4 Reality & Hyperreality, Control
The readings for this module are Chapter 7 of Lessig’s Code v2: What things regulate and Winner: Do artifacts have politics
For this module watch Black Mirror (S02E01) Be Right Back
Module 4 Additional Material
Module 5 Whats up with social media…
In this module we return to the discussion on the impact on technology on society. To do this we will focus on the documentary The Social Dilemma (available on Netflix).
The reading for this module is David Ehrlich: ‘The Social Dilemma’ Review: A Horrifyingly Good Doc About How Social Media Will Kill Us All and Jonathan Cook: Netflix’s ‘The Social Dilemma’ Tells Only Half the Story
Module 6 Digital Labor
MacDonald & Giazitzoglu: Youth, enterprise and precarity
MacKenzie: Fear the Reaper
Watch Black Mirror (s01e02) 15 Million Merits
Module 6 Additional Material
ILO Report Digital labour platforms and the future of work
Module 7 Identity
The readings for this module are Cerezo et al: Identity as Resistance: Identity Formation at the Intersection of Race, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation and Bates et al “Let Me Do What I Please With It . . . Don’t Decide My Identity For Me”: LGBTQ+ Youth Experiences of Social Media in Narrative Identity Development
Black Mirror (S05E01) Striking Vipers
Module 7 Additional Material
Module 8 Surveillance and Privacy
The readings for this module are chapter 2 of Paul Bernal’s What Do We Know and What Should We Do About Internet Privacy?
Heather Suzanne Woods Asking more of Siri and Alexa: feminine persona in service of surveillance capitalism
Watch Black Mirror (s04e02) Arkangel
Module 8 Additional material
Forbrukerradet Report: Out of control In this report, we demonstrate how every time we use our phones, a large number of shadowy entities that are virtually unknown to consumers are receiving personal data about our interests, habits, and behaviour.
Module 9 Online Politics part I
Theocaris et al: The Dynamics of Political Incivility on Twitter
Module 10 Online Politics part II
Al-Rawi & Rahman: Manufacturing rage: The Russian Internet Research Agency’s political astroturfing on social media and Jacobs et al: Twitter and Facebook: Populists’ doublebarreled gun?
Watch Black Mirror (s02e03) The Waldo Moment
Module 9 & 10 Additional Material
Module 11 Digital Activism
The literature for this module is Stefania Milan Enter the WhatsApper: Reinventing digital activism at the time of chat apps and Madison & Klang The Case for Digital Activism: Refuting the Fallacies of Slacktivism
Video Black Mirror (s03e06) Hated in the Nation
Module 11 Additional material
Module 12 Trolls & Misinformation
The readings for this module are de Zeeuw et al Tracing normiefication: A cross-platform analysis of the QAnon conspiracy theory and Ralph DiFranco: I Wrote This Paper For The Lulz: The Ethics of Internet Trolling
Video After Truth
Module 12 Additional material
Module 13 Manufactured Outrage
The readings for this module are chapter 7 in Ethics for a Digital Age Klang & Madison: Vigilantism or Outrage and chapter of Introducing Vigilant Audiences, Tara Milbrant ‘Make them famous’: Digital Vigilantism and Virtuous Denunciation after Charlottesville
Video Black Mirror (SE0202) White Bear
Module 13 Additional material
Module 14 Future of Property
Milton Mueller Info-Communism? A Critique of the Emerging Discourse on Property Rights in Information
Video Black Mirror (s02e04) White Christmas
Module 14 Additional material