Assignments and Grading
The closest thing we will have to a text will be
Resisting the Virtual Life: The Culture and Politics of Information,
edited by Jim Brook and Iain Boal, City Lights Books, 1995. In addition,
readings will be selected from among the following. You will not be expected
to read all of the following, but you will be exposed to ideas from all
of these in class. In addition, the Working Groups will select readings
appropriate to their focus and perspective.
- Other course readings and resources
- American Civil Liberties Union
- Anderson, Robert H. et. al. Universal Access to Email:
Feasibility and Societal Implications (Rand study sponsored by Markle
- Arbus, Steve. Free
Expression, Copyright, and Democracy, links and talk given at UC
and the Internet 11/95 conference
- Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. New York : Noonday Press, c1972
- Benton Foundation. Communication Policy Project,
(assorted public policy links)
- Besser, Howard.
- Assorted papers
- The Changing Role of Photographic
Collections With the Advent of Digitization Discussion Paper
for Working Group for Digital Image in Curatorial Practice, George
Eastman House, June 4, 1994
- The Information SuperHighway:
Social and Cultural Impact Chapter from
Resisting the Virtual Life: The Culture and Politics of Information,
edited by Jim Brook and Iain Boal, City Lights Books, 1995
- A Clash of Cultures on the Internet
Op Ed piece appearing in San Francisco Chronicle August 25, 1994
- Movies-on-demand May Significantly
Change the Internet From the October 1994 ASIS Bulletin theme
issue on Entertainment Technology and Information Services
Information Highway must be a Two-Way Street: The Arts and Humanities
Communities Cannot be merely Consumers Presentation to the Convergence
Conference: Arts and Humanities and the NII
- Elements of Consciousness,
(unpublished excerpt from dissertation), Berkeley, 1988
- Besser, Howard. The Changing Museum, in Ching-chih Chen (ed),
Information: The Transformation of Society (Proceedings of the
50th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Science),
Medford, NJ: Learned Information, Inc, 1987, pages 14-19
- Besser, Howard. Poland: the making and unmaking of the news,
Berkeley: Anti-Authoritarian Studies, 1983.
- Besser, Howard. Fast Forward: The Future of Moving Image Collections,
in Gary Handman (ed), Video Collection Management and Development:
A Multi-type Library Perspective, Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1994,
- Besser, Howard. Adding an Image Database to an Existing Library
and Computer Environment: Design and Technical Considerations, in
Susan Stone and Michael Buckland (eds.), Studies in Multimedia
(Proceedings of the 1991 Mid-Year Meeting of the American Society for
Information Science), Medford, NJ: Learned Information, Inc, 1992, pages
- Besser, Howard. Education as Marketplace, in Robert Muffoletto
and Nancy Knupfer (eds), Computers in Education: Social, Political,
and Historical Perspectives Cresskill, NY: Hampton Press, 1993,
- Birkerts, Sven. The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an
Electronic Age. New York: Faber and Faber, 1994.
- Brook, Jim and Iain Boal. Resisting the Virtual Life: The Culture
and Politics of Information, San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1995.
- Brand, Stewart. The Media Lab: inventing the future at MIT.
New York: Penguin, 1988.
- Burnett, Ron. Critical Approaches
to Cultural Studies
- Carlsson, Chris. Bad attitude: the Processed World anthology.
New York : Verso, 1990.
- Copyright writings,
assorted papers and pointers
- Cox, Eva. A
Truly Civil Society, extracts regarding "social capital" from 1995
Boyer Lecture on Australian National Radio
- Coyle, Karen. assorted papers
- Debord, Guy. Society of the spectacle, Detroit : Black &
- Electronic Frontier Foundation,
- FC [Freedom Club?], Unabomber
Manifesto (Time-Warner version) and other Unabomber
- Ethics and
the Internet, readings from 11/95 conference
- Gibson, William. Neuromancer, New York: Ace Books, 1984.
- Intellectual Property
York Times online discussion of the future of newspapers.
- Poster, Mark. CyberDemocracy: Internet
and the Public Sphere, 1995
- Postman, Neil. Technopoly: the surrender of Culture to Technology,
New York: Knopf, 1992.
- Kroker, Arthur and Michael A. Weinstein. Data Trash: The Theory
of the Virtual Class. New York: St. Martin's, 1994.
- Prichard, Peter. The making of McPaper: the inside story of USA
today. Kansas City : Andrews, McMeel & Parker, 1987.
- Rezmierski, Virginia E. Ethics and Values Dilemmas
in Use of Information Technology: Policy Implications for Institutions
of Higher Learning, (class taught at University of Michigan)
- Ronell, Avital. The telephone book: technology--schizophrenia--electric
speech, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989.
- Sclove, Richard E. Democracy and Technology, New York: Guilford
- Sheff, David. Game Over: How Nintendo has enslaved your children,
captured your dollars & zapped the competition & why it has
Apple, Sony, & IBM running scared, New York: Random House,1993.
- Smith, Anthony. Goodbye, Gutenberg: the newspaper revolution of
the 1980s, New York : Oxford University Press, 1980.
- Sterling, Bruce. Hacker Crackdown: Law and disorder on the electronic
frontier, New York: Bantam, 1992.
- Twitchell, James B. Adcult USA: The Triumph of Advertising in
American Culture, New York: Columbia Univ Press, 1995. (publicity)
- Turkle, Sherry. Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the
Internet, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
- Zerzan, John and Alice Carnes (eds). Questioning technology :
tool, toy or tyrant?, Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1991.
- Economics of the New Information Infrastructure
- Additional readings from:
Examine Multimedia Programs
All students will examine at least one multimedia program. You may substitute
a paper on another subject for your multimedia programs
paper, but you must still examine a multimedia program and be prepared
to discuss it in class. If interested in such a substitution, please discuss
During the course of the semester, all students will watch at least
two science fiction films and report back to the class (and/or discuss
these within their focus groups):
- One film from the past (1950s or before) to examine whether past
visions of future information technologies have come true:
Metropolis (1927), *Things to Come (1936), Just
Imagine (1930), *Wonderful World of Tomorrow (1939),
Time Machine (1960), War of the Worlds (1953),
Charleston (1927, Renoir), Transatlantic Tunnel (1935),
*Woman in the Moon (Lang, 1929), Aelita (1924), *You
Can't Get There From Here: Ephemeral Films 1946-60 (1987),
To New Horizons: Ephemeral Films 1931-45 (1987), Fantastic
- One modern film that contains visions of future information technologies:
Emphasis on how collective memory/information will be handled, stored,
destroyed: The Net (1995), Total Recall (1990),
Rollerball (1975), *Farenheit 451 (1967), *1984 (1956,
1984), *Forbidden Planet (1956), Solaris (1972),
Dreamscape (1984), Death Watch (1980), *Outer Limits
Emphasis on how major aspects of society will change due to
new information technologies: Johnny Mnemonic (1995),
They Live (1988), Wild Palms (1993), Until the End
of the World (1991), *Bladerunner (1982), Brazil
(1985), Terminator (1984), *T-2 (1991)
Examination of future societies and capabilities: The Jetsons
(1990), *THX-1138 (1971), *Star Wars Trilogy (1977,
1980, 1983), *2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Born in
Flames (1982), Tron (1982)
- 10% Multimedia Programs (Short) Paper:
Review a multimedia program and analyze it from at least one of the
following perspectives: its language and structure, educational potential,
user interface design, etc. Or you may design a multimedia program.
Or you may plan for the set-up of a multimedia production center. With
permission of instructor, you may substitute a paper on another topic.
- 40% Term Paper/Project:
Do a term paper or project on some aspect covered in class. This may
be a follow-up to one of your earlier exercises/papers/group discussions.
Please check your proposed topic with the instructor before the middle
of the semester.
- 50% Class and Working Group Participation:
Includes class discussions, working groups, maintaining a group Web
site, participation in online discussions, questions to outside speakers,
interaction with other student presentations, short assignments, science
fiction viewing reports, etc.
Students will divide into working groups to focus their studies during
the course of the semester. The instructor expects that many individual
and group projects will come out of these working groups. These groups
will allow for more in-depth discussions from particular perspectives,
and should be especially helpful in formulating ideas for the final projects.
The groups will also periodically report back to the class as a whole
to encourage a cross-fertilization of perspectives. Each group will consist
of students from both campuses. Group members will hold weekly meetings,
and will continue online discussions between meetings. From time to time,
groups will be given class time for discussions.
Each group will start and manage its own Web site with summaries and
pointers to relevant resources. The group will also manage an electronic
communications forum to discuss relevant topics between face-to-face meetings.
The group will choose thread names (subject headings) within the forum,
periodically purge older messages, and perform all necessary management
functions. Each forum will be open to students in other groups and (to
a limited extent) to the general public.
The following is a sample list of groups likely to form, and the topics
they are likely to discuss. Which of these are actually formed depends
upon student interest, and some of these groups might be combined.
- Creative Arts -- Use of high technology and interactive
media in the visual arts. Changing physical media (film to video to
digital media) and distribution channels (theaters to the home) for
media arts. The changing role of cultural institutions (such as museums)
in an age of widespread digital distribution. Effects of a digital society
on creativity (including writing).
- Virtual Communities -- How does one-way communication
differ from two-way communication? Is there a difference in information
produced for mass consumption from that produced as part of a helping
community? How can computer networks be used to help bring people together
who may not have met otherwise? What is the nature of new online communities
which develop without any sense of "place"? How will commercialization
of networked information affect virtual communities?
- Critical Theory -- Can information be a commodity?
How can we extend an analysis of representation to computer-based
communication? What is the changing nature of discourse in a mediated
electronic environment? What is the relationship between communications,
information, and technology? Is there an ideology to the information
age? What is the likely result of the loss of community spaces (movie
theaters, museums, and even department stores) that is likely to accompany
the new "information age"? What is the likely impact of the disembodiment
that will accompany virtual reality and its descendants? Is the attraction
to cutting-edge technologies really a form of spectacle? How
can we apply theories from Lyotard, Baudrillard, Derrida, Freud, Lacan,
Foucault, Habermas, Debord, etc. to answer these and other questions
arising from new information technology?
- Public Policy -- What is the government's role in relation
to telecommunications and high technology? What kind of projects does
(and should) the government fund? What are the effects of licensing
the air waves as the distinction between television, telephones, and
computers begins to blur? Can government regulation protect the public
interest in the battles between newspapers, broadcasters, the cable
companies, the telephone companies, computer companies and the entertainment
industry? What are the issues around privacy raised by the new information
technologies? What about the role of intellectual property? What issues
are raised in the flow of information into developing countries? What
are the pros and cons of privatizing the Internet? Should Internet access
- Future of Publishing -- Will electronic books, online
newspapers, and on-demand news (via phone, cable, or computer) become
the major delivery systems for information? What are the technical,
economic, social, and cultural issues involved in these coming into
widespread use? How will these change the nature of publishing, and
how will people use these published materials in new ways? What kind
of legal and technical protections will be used for intellectual property
and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each? What are the
ethical, preservation, and copyright issues around digital photography?
- Information Retrieval -- What are the issues in networked
multimedia information retrieval? How can one find the desired information
somewhere on the network? What does one need in order to find it (indexing,
standards), retrieve it (coordinating stream data, bandwidth), find
the correct portion of it (scene in a film or paragraph of text), play
it (decompression, storage standards, user interface)? What are the
issues involved in creating entities (such as knowbots) to search the
networks for the information we need? How can we filter through large
bodies of information, and what are the consequences of relying on filters?
- Media Views of New Technologies -- How does the contemporary
mass media (television, newspapers, magazines) cover the Internet, electronic
communication and related issues? What framing devices are used, and
why do those frames shift between dist opian and utopian views? What
is the interplay between the media and popular views (and which influences
the other)? What spurs the development of magazines like Wired
and Internet World?
- Digital Commerce -- What are the technical issues involved
in buying and selling through electronic communication? Can online transactions
be protected? What schemes will online vendors use to prevent reuse
or misuse of the information they sell? Will these schemes pose onerous
barriers to access to intellectual property? What are the advantages
of giving some information away for free and charging for other information?
Do online marketing schemes pose a threat to the culture and character
of the Internet? How might online vendors capture data detailing what
a user looks at and for how long? What kind of privacy issues are raised
by the capture and use of this data?
Sample Class Subjects
* Personal Communication Devices
* Digital video/audio on Networks, Talk Radio
* Video on Demand to Home
* Electronic Publishing
* Interactive Video
* Video Conferencing/Image Telephones
* Motion Picture Browsing (Pickers)
* Networking Superhighway
* Future/Present of Newspapers
* Tailored information, knowbots, artificial intelligence
* Digital Production for Hollywood
* Standards for viewing and exchanging multimedia
* Electronic democracy
* Distance-Independent Learning
* New input devices (visualization, speech recognition)
* Virtual Reality
* Public Policy, Regulatory Issues
* Economics of Large Corporations
* The Changing Information Industry Workplace
* Environmental Impact
* Social Effects
* Media as social change or protest
* Technical Issues
* Standards Issues
* Changing Cinema
* Structure/Language of the interaction
* Recent Commercial Services
* Decentralized Information Sources
* Internet Resources
* Text encoding
* Electronic Art
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