This course is an introduction to digital media, focusing on computers, networks, hypertext, the Web, social software, weblogs, and social networks. Critical topics include the formal qualities of new media, their cultural and political dimensions, as well as questions of genre, narrative, and history.
Students are required to engage with class material on two levels: through participation to class discussion, and by updating and maintaining this class web log. Content wise, the course is divided into five sections:
Section I explores the historical context from which new media emerged, their similarities with traditional media such as film, TV, and the printing press, as well as their unique formal characteristics.
Section II extends this historic investigation into the visions of new media pioneers such as Vannevar Bush and Ted Nelson, and considers how hypertext, the Web, and the implementation of Graphical User Interface software have either fulfilled or betrayed their dreams and expectations.
In Section III, hypertext and computer code are analyzed as two related, yet irreducible kinds of text, whose operating logic underpins new cultural objects such as hyperfiction, networked narratives, and (online) video games.
Section IV begins with an analysis of various network theories to move then to an understanding of how many-to-many communication is redefining the dichotomy public-private, the ability of networked publics to share information, cooperate, and act in common–i.e. the very notion of the public sphere.
Finally, in Section V we will delve into the politics of collaborative production by considering how open source software and hacking culture have sparked a revolution in the field of culture, and are transforming the contemporary understanding of what it means to be a producer.
For the schedule of classes and a list of assigned readings please consult the Syllabus.