Potential Working Groups for
Impact of New Information Resources: Multimedia and Networks
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
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 be free?
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
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?
Return to the main Impact Homepage
Created Spring 1997;