COMM 400: Communication and the Future

Morgan Schwartz

FALL 2006 Section 1

Monday & Wednesday 11:30 am - 12:50 pm

Nugent 461


Course Description:
The purpose of this class is to explore the social, political, and economic implications of new media technologies. First, we will study specific technologies and trace the growth of some major ones, such as digital television, satellites, computers, and the Internet. Next, we will examine the development of regulating agencies and recent laws that impact and control these technologies. We explore how life in the digital age will affect our conceptions of privacy, copyright, and relationships. We will then turn to examine media conglomeration, ownership, and globalization.

Course Objectives:
By the end of the semester you should:

  • Be able to critically assess the impact of new technologies on society.
  • Understand the impact of media conglomeration, and how new regulations will impact society.
  • Understand the global interconnectedness of media systems, including the effects of American media abroad as well as the effects of globalization on local media
  • Have first-hand experience exploring new technology. In particular, have participated in an on-line community and analyzed your experiences doing so throughout the semester.
  • Have completed an extensive research paper and gain a special knowledge of a particular contemporary issue or phenomenon within society.
  • Developed your critical analyses skills, writing skills, research skills, and have increased your interest/knowledge of our changing media environment.

Academic Honesty
MMC fosters an academic community where students and faculty work together to create a learning experience that imparts knowledge and forms character. All work submitted should be done by the student in preparation for this specific class (for example, you may not hand in a paper for this class that you are also preparing for another class). Plagiarism and cheating of any kind will not be tolerated. Students will jeopardize their grade not just for the assignment but also for the entire course. If a student has difficulty understanding how to cite sources or has questions concerning the above, contact the professor as soon as possible. The College requires all members of the community to adhere to the policy of Academic Honesty that can be found in the Student Handbook, the College Catalogue and on the College website.

Class Website
The class website is located at:

You will need to login in order to download readings and post to the discussion forums. Please do this by the end of the week to make sure you can access the site.


All reading materials will be made available through the class website.

Grade Weights - details below

Participation 10%
Reading Responses 25%
Peer Reviews 15%

Final Project
Research Proposal 5%
Literature Review 10%
Interview Analysis 10%
Final Paper 25%

Participation 10%
Attendance and participation are essential for you to do well in this course. Attendance will be taken in each class, and more than 2 absences will result in a drop in your final grade. More than 3 absences (excused or unexcused) will jeopardize your ability to pass this class. It is also necessary for you to participate in each class. Vibrant participation allows all members of the class (including the professor) to benefit from the exchange of ideas, questions, and criticism of the readings. If you find that you are uncomfortable, you need to see me during my office hours to discuss alternative contributions to the class.

Reading Responses 25%
One-page Essays - you will write 5 one-page essays over the course of the semester. Each essay will be based on one or more of the assigned readings and is due no later than one class after the reading was due.

  • topics: You will decide what to focus each essay on. Each essay must have both a thesis and evidence (data, quotes, examples, etc from the readings)
  • format: Your essay must fit onto one page of an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper - you can use any legible font (10, 11 or 12 pt) and any spacing (single, double or 1.5)

Quick Writes - occasionally I will give "pop" in-class writing assignments, in which you will be asked to make critical reflections on the day's readings.

Peer Reviews 15%
This course has a peer review component. You will be part of a team of 3 students. For the three stages leading up to your final paper (Research Proposal, Lit Review, Interview) you will be required to provide written and verbal feedback of your classmates work.

Final Project
During the semester, while we as a class explore new technology and how changes in communication technology impact society, you will be working individually to further examine an aspect of the new media environment. You will pick a subject to focus on and conduct a research project where you analyze this topic in a number of ways. You will examine research already completed on this subject (secondary research) and you will incorporate an interview with a person relevant to your topic (primary research). Your sources should be wide-ranging and varied, including books, articles from scholarly journals, newspaper and magazine articles, technology blogs and trade journals for communication professionals.

You will have a significant amount of flexibility in choosing this topic so you should pick one that interests you or could help you learn more about new media in a field that you are considering for your career. In other words, this paper will be as useful to you as make it. In previous classes, students have used the paper they wrote to obtain a job, an internship, or to apply to graduate programs. You should plan to spend time in the next month looking over our entire course schedule and thinking deeply about what you would like to investigate to ensure that the topic you take on is sufficiently interesting to sustain a semester-long focus. Sample topics and areas will be discussed in class and I encourage you to engage me in discussions about possible topics well in advance of the prospectus due date.

To aid you in deciding upon a topic and developing your paper in a timely manner throughout the semester, I have broken the process down into several specific assignments. Note that these assignments are mandatory and failure to complete them will jeopardize both your final grade and also the quality and success of your final essay (since you will deny yourself feedback from your peers and me.)

note: The final essay should be submitted in no larger than 12pt. type, double-spaced, number pages and STAPLED in the upper left hand corner.

note: Papers that are one class session late will lose one full grade. I will not accept papers past one class session beyond the due date.

Research Proposal 5% - due September 25
In a two-page document present your project as you are currently thinking about it. The first section should be a narrative of what brought you to your subject, what interests you about it and why you want to investigate it further. The next section should pose the issue you are going to research further and the various areas you will explore as you work towards the creation of your essay. This section should include at least six questions through which you will approach your topic. The last section should discuss your research strategy. Indicate possible readings/sources and possible candidates for the interview component of the final paper.

Literature Review 10% - due October 23
In this 5-7 page paper you will review secondary sources relevant to your field of inquiry. Your research should include a minimum of 8 sources, 2 of which may be readings assigned from class. This paper should do more than simply summarize the sources you select. Rather you should attempt to draw connections between them and how they relate to your research topic. We will discuss the form of this paper in more detail during class.

Interview Analysis 10% - due November 15
You will conduct an interview with an individual relevant to your field of inquiry and then write a 5-7 analysis paper. We will discuss the form of this paper in more detail during class.


  • Identify and contact the person you would like to interview.
  • Prepare a set of questions around your research focus.
  • Conduct and record a live interview.
  • Prepare a transcript of your interview and write up your analysis.

Be sure to turn in the raw transcript of your interview.

Final Paper 25% - due December 6
Your 15-20 page paper with a complete list of works cited.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
Students with disabilities who require reasonable accommodations or academic adjustments for this course must either enroll in the Program for Academic Access or register with the Office of Student Support Services. For any accommodation, the instructor must be presented with either a letter from the Assistant Director of the Program for Academic Access or an Accommodations Card from the Office of Student Support Services during the first week of classes.


Week by week course schedule:

Sep 06 - Introduction


How do we discuss the future?
Final Paper.

Sep 11 - Framing the Future


Analog NokiaAnalog Nokia
Complete DIY Instructions

Bert is EvilBert is Evil


Thomas de Zengotita, "The Numbing of the American Mind" from Harper's Magazine

Henry Jenkins, "'Worship at the Altar of Convergence:' A New Paradigm for Understanding Media Change."

Thomas_de_Zengotita_Numbing_American_Mind.pdf1.44 MB
Henry_Jenkins_Worship_at_the_Altar_of_Convergence.pdf1.4 MB

Sep 18 - How I Lost My Aura


lecture notes:
Walter Benjamin

Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction"

Bill Nichols, "The Work of Culture in the Age of Cybernetic Systems"

Walter_Benjamin_Art_in_Age_Mechanical_Reproduction.pdf1.77 MB

Sep 20 - The Long Tail


Chris Anderson, "The Long Tail" - Chapters 2 & 3 [pdf]

Lee Gomes rebuttal to Chris Anderson [pdf]

Chris Anderson responds to Lee Gomes [read link]

Chris_Anderson_Long_Tail_Ch2.pdf750.25 KB
Chris_Anderson_Long_Tail_Ch3.pdf574.07 KB
Lee_Gomes_Long_Tail.pdf133.87 KB

Sep 25 - Open-Source


Research Proposal
(each member of your peer review team receives a copy)

Pekka Himanen, "The Academy and the Monastery" [PDF]

Malcolm Gladwell, "The Science of the Sleeper" [PDF]

Eric Raymond
The Cathedral and the Bazaar [link]

Nikolai Bezroukov critiques Eric Raymond
Open Source Software Development [link]

Eric Raymond responds to Nikolai Bezroukov
A Response to Nikolai Bezroukov [link]

Open Source
Open Cola
The Halloween Documents
Free speech, not free beer
Open Source DNA
Human Genome Project
MIT Open Course Ware

Malcolm_Gladwell_The_Science_of_the_Sleeper.pdf248.31 KB
Pekka_Himanen_The_Hacker_Ethic_Ch4.pdf1.57 MB

Sep 27 - Research Methods


Research Proposal 1st Draft
(1 peer review form for each member of your peer review team)

in class:
Peer Review Session

Discuss research methods.

Oct 02 - NO CLASSES - Yom Kippur

NO CLASSES - Yom Kippur

Oct 04 - Politics

DeanSpace,, Blogosphere, Meetups vs. The Daily Me

Research Proposal Final Draft
(turn in 1st draft, peer review forms & final draft)

"The Daily Me" from by Cass Sunstein

"How the Internet invented Howard Dean" from Wired Magazine by Gary Wolf

"The New Road to the White House" from Wired Magazine by Lawrence Lessig


Cass_Sunstein_Republic_com_Ch1.pdf187.26 KB
Gary_Wolf_How_the_Internet_Invented_Howard_Dean.pdf124.52 KB
Lawrence_Lessig_The_New_Road_to_the_White_House.pdf209.84 KB


NO CLASSES - Columbus Day

Oct 10 - Identity > Online


note: Monday classes are on Tuesday this week


Sherry Turkle, "Who Am We?"

Allucqu√®re Rosanne Stone, "Will the Real Body Please Stand Up?"

Sherry_Turkle_Who_Am_We.pdf182.5 KB
Sandy_Stone_Will_the_Real_Body_Please_Stand_Up.pdf301.15 KB

Oct 11 - Identity > Politics



Lisa Nakamura, "Race In/For Cyberspace: Identity Tourism and Racial Passing on the Internet"

Coco Fusco, "At Your Service"

Oct 16 - Identity > Cyborg


Donna Harraway, "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century"

A Cyborg Manifesto (comic)

Hari Kunzru, "You Are Cyborg"

Donna_Haraway_A_Cyborg_Manifesto.pdf215.33 KB

Oct 18 - Participatory Media

weblog, wiki, social networking, myspace, facebook

Literature Review 1st Draft
(deliver 1 copy to each member of your peer review team)

Stacy Schiff, "Know it All:Can Wikipedia conquer expertise?"

Stacy_Schiff_Wikipedia.pdf120.47 KB

Oct 23 - Interview Methods


Literature Review Peer Review
(deliver 1 peer review to each member of your peer review team)

in class:
Peer Review Session

Interview Methods


Oct 30 - GeoSpatial Mashups

mashups, google maps

Literature Review - 1st draft, peer review forms, final draft

no readings... instead spend many hours looking at all of these websites:

Yellow Arrow

Found City

One Block Radius


Garbage Scout


Visual Complexity

Visitors' Profile by Hans Haacke
Milwaukee Art Centre, June 19 through August 8, 1971

Migration by Lisa Jevbratt
Web Visualization

Listening Post by Jon Rubin


Agonistics: A Language Game by Warren Sack

Conversation Map by Warren Sack

Swipe by Beatriz da Costa, Brooke Singer, Jamie Schulte

Babel by Simon Biggs

Internet Mapping Project by Martin Dodge (2000)

The Giver of Names by David Rokeby (1991)

All My Life For Sale

Valence by Ben Fry

Anemone by Ben Fry

Zip decode by Ben Fry

Nov 01 - IP > Owning


lecture notes:
Sing it, Swing it.

Kembrew McLeod, Freedom of Expression, Ch 1-3 [PDF]
(careful - don't print the whole book!!)

download the book here
Kembrew McLeod's website

Nov 06 - IP > Sharing




Courtney Love, "Courtney Love does the math."

John Snyder and Ben Snyder, "Embrace file-sharing, or die."
read it here

Lawrence Lessig, "Why Wilco is the Future of Music"
read it here

Lawrence Lessig, "Some Like It Hot"
read it here

Courtney_Love_does_the_math.pdf196.6 KB

Nov 08 - Surveillance > Visual


lecture notes:
Visibility is a trap.


Michel Foucault, "Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison", Panopticism

Michel_Foucault_Discipline_and_Punish_Ch3.pdf1.87 MB

Nov 13 - Surveillance > Data



Christian Parenti, The Soft Cage Ch 6, Ch 10


Gilles Deleuze, "Postscript on the Societies of Control"

Christian_Parenti_Soft_Cage_Ch6.pdf1.02 MB
Christian_Parenti_Soft_Cage_Ch10.pdf1.4 MB

Nov 15 - Individual Meetings


Interview 1st Draft
(deliver 1 copy to each member of your peer review team)

Nov 20 - Individual Meetings


Interview Peer Review
(deliver 1 peer review to each member of your peer review team)

in class:
Peer review session


NO CLASSES - Thanksgiving

Nov 27 - Tactical Media


Interview (1st draft, peer review forms, final copy)

lecture notes:
Tactical Media

"Contestational Robotics" by Critical Art Ensemble & The Institute for Applied Autonomy

"On Electronic Civil Disobedience" by Stefan Wray

Nov 29 - Hacking


lecture notes:
Hackers and Crackers and Slackers


"Slacker Luddites" from Ars Electronica 95 by Critical Art Ensemble

"Pranks" from Media Virus by Douglas Rushkoff

"Possibility" by Alex Galloway

Critical_Art_Ensemble_Slacker_Luddites.pdf129.48 KB

Dec 04 - Gaming



Dec 06 - Machinima



& Sciences" target="_blank">Academy of Machinima Arts & Sciences
The Machinima Film Festival
Machinima FAQ - huge repository of Machinima
Diary of a Camper - considered the 1st piece of machinima
Rooster Teeth Productions - makers of "Red vs. Blue" and "Strangerhood"

Dec 11 - Final Presentations


Kate Regan
Christie Alexander
Lauren Pallaise
Shelly Tseng
Lexie Smyth
Joy Shapiro

Dec 13 - Final Presentations

Final Papers


Brynn Komro
Ruthanna Katz
Ashley Kirwan
Jill Marino
Meghan Doran
Sara DiBona
Lauren Shakra

Dec 18 - Final Presentations


Kelly Meehan
George Bergamo
Robyn Jemal
Joseph Mattarelliano
Robert Camacho
Stephanie Garbarino
Jennifer Javier


Resources for COMM 400

Final Paper Topics

  • Exploration of how on-line technology transforms personal relationships/dating.

  • Explore how television programs and movies have created companion websites.

  • Explore changing conceptions of copyright within education or music or film.

  • Explore how new technology (electronic voting, etc.) is impacting a particular political campaign or movement.

  • Explore how new technology is changing conceptions of education.

  • Explore how the digital divide affects a particular group.

  • Explore the impact of a large media conglomeration and its use of new technology and new media laws to gain power.

  • Explore the impact of globalization and technology on a specific group.

  • How is new technology depicted in popular programs for children on television?

Peer Review 1 - Research Proposal

Use this form to provide feedback on 2=two of your classmates research proposals.

A good proposal should answer the following questions:

What do you plan to accomplish, why do you want to do it and how are you going to do it?

comm400_peer_review_1.pdf40.13 KB

Literature Review

Here are some pointers and guidelines for writing a good literature review.

map the terrain:
The idea of this paper is to map out the terrain of your topic. Though you will draw some conclusions by the end, your objective here is not personal commentary, but rather to gain an understanding of what the central issues, themes and debates are in the area of research that you have selected. With this in mind, try to suspend judgement - the goal is to understand what the writers are saying and to be able to clearly articulate their ideas.

A good lit review is NOT a summary of the sources. I don't want to see a paper made up of 8 sections summarizing your 8 sources. While doing your reading try to draw connections, identify common themes and articulate central debates in the field.

At the end of the process you can start drawing some conclusions. What questions are not answered by the literature? What arguements are weak and why? By mapping the terrain you should have a clearer sense of where your own research is going and how you can contribute to the discourse.


  • refer to at least 8 sources, 2 of which may come from class readings
  • only 3 sources may come from the Internet (the rest must come from books, scholarly articles, etc)
  • at the end of the paper should be a list of works cited
  • read Johanne Blank's Evaluating Evidence [attached] about evaluating the quality of your sources


  1. A concise and provacative title.
  2. An introductory paragraph framing your paper and indicating what you will cover.
  3. Possible main body sections may include:
    • Discuss the history and background of this topic. What are the technological/media precursors? A paper about YouTube would need to address the history of television.
    • Present any relevant stats, figures, etc. that frame the issue.
    • Discuss theories of media/culture/technology that provide a foundation for your topic - postmodernism, marxism, media convergence, film theory, etc.
    • Drawing from the readings, identify common themes that come up in different writings. Use quotes and examples to discuss the different writers ideas. For example, in the area of children and the Internet, a central issue is that of parental moderation/control of where their children can surf.
    • Articulate central debates in your field. For example some educators think that games are anathema and others think of them as innovative learning tools. What's important here is to demonstrate a clear understanding of both sides of the arguement - not weigh in with your opinion (yet).
  4. Conclusion - finally, try to assess what you've learned and what it means for your final topic. You may find that those 6 questions you created for your research proposal are not relevant and need revising. Or you may realize that you could write an entire book about just one of them. Try to identify opportunities in your topic to make a new contribution either by adding evidence to one side of a debate, or introducing new issues, etc.

quotes: introduce, claim, explain

Avoid run-on quotes!!! The effective use of quotations generally involves 3 parts:

  1. The introduction -- Quotations must be introduced. This can be as simple as saying "As X argues, "..."(page #)". It usually involves a transition that will guide the topic of discussion into the quotation and also provide the reader an indication of what he or she should be looking for while reading the quotation.

- "X" contends that ...
- As "Y" writes ...
- "Z" would respond ...
2. The quotation itself -- When quoting, especially with long quotations, the author's words should be essential to your argument and analysis.
3. The analysis --This usually has two parts. Immediately after the quotation, the writer should summarize what he or she takes the quotation to mean. After that, the author should clearly and directly relate this meaning to the argument and overall thesis.

Johanne_Blank_Evaluating_Evidence.pdf87.73 KB

Peer Review 2 - Literature Review

You'll need to review two of your classmate's literature review papers. Due Monday October 23rd.

comm400_peer_review_lit_review.pdf38.19 KB

Interview Methods


  1. Identify the person you would like to interview and initiate contact with her/him.

+ It could take some time to work out the scheduling, so do this ASAP.
+ Be sure to identify who you are - a college student at Marymount Manhattan College. Mention that you are working on a research paper and indicate your topic/title.
+ Let me know immediately if you have trouble making contact and maybe I can help.
2. Develop a set of questions in advance to focus your interview. Do as much research as possible ahead of time on the person and/or topic you are working on. This is an opportunity to find out how your interviewee might respond to your 6 research questions.
3. Conduct and record ‚Äúthe interview‚Äù. I would like you to conduct your interview live and in person. Please get in touch with me if this won't be possible.

The questions:

Types of Questions

  1. Behaviors - about what a person has done or is doing
  2. Opinions/values - about what a person thinks about a topic
  3. Feelings
  4. Knowledge - to get facts about a topic
  5. Sensory - about what people have seen, touched, heard, tasted or smelled
  6. Background/demographics - standard background questions, such as age, education, job, etc.

Sequence of Questions

  1. Get the respondents involved in the interview as soon as possible.
  2. Before asking about controversial matters (such as feelings and conclusions), first ask about some facts. With this approach, respondents can more easily engage in the interview before warming up to more personal matters.
  3. Intersperse fact-based questions throughout the interview to avoid long lists of fact-based questions, which tends to leave respondents disengaged.
  4. Ask questions about the present before questions about the past or future. It's usually easier for them to talk about the present and then work into the past or future.
  5. The last questions might be to allow respondents to provide any other information they prefer to add and their impressions of the interview.

Wording of Questions

  1. Wording should be open-ended. Respondents should be able to choose their own terms when answering questions. For the most part, avoid questions that can be answered "yes" or "no."
  2. Questions should be as neutral as possible. Avoid wording that might influence answers, e.g., evocative, judgmental wording. Don't lead your subject.
  3. Questions should be asked one at a time.
  4. Questions should be worded clearly. This includes knowing any terms particular to the topic or the respondents' culture.

The interview:

Preparation for Interview

  1. Choose a setting with little distraction. Avoid loud lights or noises, ensure the interviewee is comfortable (you might ask them if they are), etc. Often, they may feel more comfortable at their own places of work or homes. Come prepared with paper and pen(cils) and a recording device.
  2. Explain the purpose of the interview.
  3. Discuss confidentiality. Ask them if it is okay to quote them directly. If not, you can offer to use a pseudonym, etc.
  4. Ask them if they have any questions before you both get started with the interview.
  5. Don't count on your memory to recall their answers. Ask for permission to record the interview and take notes or bring along someone to take notes. Be sure to ask their permission before recording.

Carrying Out Interview

  1. Some casual conversation to start with will relax both of you.
  2. Give the respondent time to answer. Be a good listener. If he or she goes on and on, it is appropriate to move on as politely as you can. You might say something such as: "Fine, but let me ask you thisÔøΩ
  3. Occasionally verify the tape recorder (if used) is working.
  4. Ask one question at a time.
  5. Attempt to remain as neutral as possible. That is, don't show strong emotional reactions to their responses.
  6. Encourage responses with occasional nods of the head, "uh huh"s, etc. Try to draw out specifics: How long, how many, when, "can you elaborate on that", etc.
  7. Provide transition between major topics, e.g., "we've been talking about (some topic) and now I'd like to move on to (another topic)."
  8. Don't lose control of the interview. This can occur when respondents stray to another topic, take so long to answer a question that times begins to run out, or even begin asking questions to the interviewer.

Immediately After Interview

  1. Verify if the tape recorder, if used, worked throughout the interview.
  2. Write down any observations made during the interview. For example, where did the interview occur and when? Were there any surprises during the interview?
  3. As soon as it's practical after the interview, find a quiet place to review your handwritten notes. In your haste while taking notes, you may have written abbreviations for words that won't mean anything to you a day or two later. Or some of your scribbling may need deciphering, and, again, it is more likely you'll be better able to understand the scribbles soon after the interview.
  4. Underline or put stars alongside quotes that seemed most compelling. It will speed the process when you get to the writing stage. One other thing to look for in your notes: the quote you wrote down might not make a lot of sense, unless you remember what specific question it was responding to. In short, fill in whatever gaps exist in your notes that will help you better understand them when writing.

Other resources:
Bill Clinton interviewd on Fox News
Silbey, S. Conversational Interviewing Techniques. - see pdf below

Susan_Silbey_Interiew_Techniques.pdf212.39 KB

Interview Analysis

A 5-7 page analysis of the interview you've conducted. This interview will serve as one of the sources for your final paper and is a piece of original research conducted by YOU.

Structure - try to include the following elements

  1. A brief description of the research focus/question, the context in which the interview was conducted; and relevant biographical information about your participant and yourself.

  2. Type up a transcript of the interview. Make a careful reading of the transcript. What themes do you notice? How do sections of the interview relate (or not) to the themes, histories, or theories of your research topic? Does your respondent corroborate or dispute information you uncovered in the literature review? What new insights or angles where brought to light? Make your interpretation being sure to clarify through your analysis what you think you learned from the interview relative to your research focus.

  3. A reflexive statement - that is, your reflections on your experience in this exercise. Summarize what you have learned about yourself as a researcher. What has this method taught you, how you felt in the ‚Äúencounter‚Äù? What would you do differently if you were to do another ‚Äúinterview‚Äù? How did your interview meet or not meet your expectations?

  4. Include a copy of your interview questions and a transcript of your interview in the APPENDICES for the paper. this does not count towards your page count