October 16, 2007

Topics in Digital Media

Category: Academic,Classes,Tech — Biella @ 1:00 pm

Next semester I am teaching one (yay one) course and it is a graduate course on digital media. This is the description I have so far and I will post the tentative syllabus in the next few week.

Mondays: 4:55 – 7:05 pm, E58.2130-001.
Computers, especially in their networked dimension, have sparked a series of ethical, political, and social debates that often revolve around a series of stark and connected dualities: control and freedom; pleasure and exploitation; creativity and constraint. In this course we will approach topics in digital media via an historical angle that squarely addresses these dualities. To this end, we will often cross-cut readings on similar topics and material whose conclusion about the nature of computing will often vary considerably. The goal, however, is not to determine the correct or right side of these dualities but have students come away with a firm understanding of the following: 1) the history of computing and networking in light of the ways the authors as well as technologists/inventors construct or understand these dualities; 2) the various sources—technological, social, and political—that may shape or drive any of these elements; 3) unpack the political and social relationships, if any, between them and the stakes involved in how these authors represent the nature of computing and networking.

The course primarily concentrates on computers and networks and is roughly chronological, starting with the first digital computers and ending with our digital present. Particular topics we address are: cybernetics and liberalism; networks and the cold war; personal computers and online communities; hackers, the free software movement and intellectual property; labor, development, and computers; peer-to-peer knowledge production; computer gaming; and counter-globalization and computer networking.

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