Week by week course schedule:

Sep 04 - Introduction


Review syllabus

Sharing exercise #1 - swap fest

give - swap - share

Sep 11 - Blogorama


Al Gore on Charlie Rose
the show with zefrank

Register an account at

Write a 1-page brainstorm for your blog project. It should include:

  • Generate at least 3 possible names for the blog.
  • Identify at least 2 and no more than 4 topics that you plan to blog about (its ok if they are only loosely related). Spend some time thinking about this. You will be asked to make at least one post on your blog every week of the semester... so choose things that you are interested in and care about so that you don't get bored. The point here is NOT to recreate what you are already doing on MySpace, Facebook, etc. - so topics can't include things like what you did with your friends last Saturday night...
  • Research and identify at least 3 other blogs that deal with similar material. They don't have to agree with you (in fact it would be more interesting if they didn't) but the things they write about should be fairly obviously related to some of the things you plan on writing about. The point here is to find some "massive conversations" that are happening online and join them. Briefly describe each one.


We Media. Chapter 1: Introduction to participatory journalism by Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis

A Definition of Sociable Media by Judith Donath [pdf]

Judith-Donath_Sociable-Media.pdf112.32 KB
Willis-and-Bowman_We-Media-Ch1.pdf572.63 KB

Sep 18 - Citizens journalism

Extending your blog skills: commenting, link equity, search engine optimization (SEO)



  • create your blog at
  • write your 1st post - a couple of paragraphs introducing your blog to the world - indicate the themes, topics, debates you will be dealing with
  • your 2nd post - this is your first "real" post after the intro
  • email me your blog URL


Introduction, The Assault on Reason by Al Gore [handout]

Besieged Lebanese turn to Internet by Zeina Karam

In the Midst of War, Bloggers Are Talking by Sarah Ellison

Additional resource:

Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents (read online) or download: PDF version

Sep 25 - Your privately public self

Your Privately Public Self

Extending your digital self:

Now that you've planted your blog, grow it:

  • claim your blog on
  • weeding: try to respond to comments in a timely manner, watch out for spam
  • continue to write at least 1 post per week
  • experiment with promotion: post a comments on other blogs about your content, email your blog to friends and family, ask for other people to give you a boost
  • create a blog roll
  • experiment with another form of media: add images, audio or video

How to Blog Safely (About Work or Anything Else)


"Blogging Outloud: Shifts in Public Voice" by danah boyd

"Steal this bookmark!" by Katharine Mieszkowski
Thomas Vander Wal's definition of folksonomy.
Clay Shirky discusses folksonomy

Katharine-Mieszkowski_Steal-this-bookmark.pdf377.85 KB
danah-boyd_Blogging-Outloud-Shifts-in-Public-Voice.pdf129.94 KB

Oct 02 - Gift Economy


Your private public self - part one:
Register at
Choose a name.
Get Dressed (create your avatar).
Learn how to fly.

Register at
Choose a name.
Start bookmarking socially.


Natalie Jeremijenko, "If Things Can Talk, What Do They Say? If We Can Talk to Things, What Do We Say?"

Pekka Himanen, ‚ÄúThe Academy and the Monastery‚Äù [PDF]

Pekka-Himanen_The-Hacker-Ethic-Ch4.pdf1.57 MB

Oct 09 - Social Networks

Social networks have been the focus of much recent research and entrepreneurship. This discourse views social relationships as nodes and links (or ties). Nodes are individual entities (often people) and the links are the relationships between them (parent-child, student-teacher, friend-friend). The people you know are your social network. Social relationships can be characterized on a spectrum from shallow to deep. Some theorists claim that social networks with many weak ties are more valuable than ones with fewer and deeper ties. The premise is that the more connections you have, the more likely that new ideas and opportunities will be introduced to you. This seems to be the guiding principle of many of these new social networking websites. Deeper connections have greater costs in terms of time commitments, etc and tend to have redundant ties. Of particular value in these systems are nodes (people, entities) that can bridge two networks thereby brokering relationships between networks that otherwise are not directly linked.

In 1967, Stanley Milgram made the famous "small world experiment" which claimed to prove that people in the world are separated by at most 6 links. While the experiment is considered to have many flaws, the notion of six degrees of separation has persisted in popular culture.

Social network class notes

some links:
Mark Lombardi
Weak ties and Mark Granovetter

DUE: 4-5 page essay
This essay should grow out of your experiences in Second Life and the social bookmarking website

  1. Take a snapshot of your SL avatar and attach it to this assignment.
  2. Describe the appearance of your avatar in Second Life in depth.
  • does your avatar resemble you?
  • do you change your appearance frequently or do you have one standard appearance?
  • what motivated any changes your made?
  • did you ask others for feedback on "how you look"?
  • have you spent any money on your appearance? How much? On what?
  • do you like how you look in Second Life?
  • are there changes you'd like to make but can't due to lack of funds, skills, etc?
  1. Conduct interviews with 2 other people in Second Life (who are not in our class).
  • be sure to inform them that you are doing research for a class and that nothing they tell you will be posted publicly to the Internet.
  • ask your subjects questions about their own appearance
  • what motivates the way they look (certain gestures, purposefully androgynous, dressed as an animal or object)?
  • summarize each subject's comments
  • reflect on the role/meaning of appearance in Second Life. How does the way people form identities in this environment differ/align with Real Life. What were your expectations and how did they measure up to your actual experiences?
  1. Finally, compare and contrast the experience of constructing your new alter egos - your new visual + virtual Second Life self/avatar and your new metadata self. Specifically address how your notion of privacy is different with these identities than in Real Life (RL).


Friends, Friendsters, and MySpace Top 8: Writing Community Into Being on Social Network Sites. by danah boyd

The Rhythms of Salience: A Conversation Map by Judith Donath

Judith-Donath_Conversation-Map.pdf64.5 KB
danah-boyd_Friends_Friendster_Top8.pdf2.8 MB

Oct 23 - The Commons

Introducing the wiki.
Wiki 101
MediaWiki Handbook
MMC Wiki Practice Area

Wikimedia Commons Ourmedia

DUE: write and draw
1. How do people display social networks in everyday life (that is, not online)? Give 2 concrete, specific examples. Why do they do this? What are the costs of making this display? The benefits? Does honesty play in?
2. Explore two different social networking sites [LinkedIn, Orkut, Friendster, Tribe, Ryze, Facebook, MySpace and others...]. One should be LinkedIn and the other is up to you. What different aspects of your personality/identity can be expressed in these sites? How does the design of these sites facilitate networking? How does this sort of display compare to traditional means of displaying social connectedness. What are the advantages and disadvantages? Are signals of friendship here reliable? Why or why not?
3. Draw a diagram of your social network (family, friends, acquaintances) using nodes and links. Aim to have between 30 and 60 people in your network - the more complete the better. Show connections among those people whom you know know each other. As you draw the diagram, think about where you are placing people - how have you grouped them, what meaning, if any, are you giving to adjacency or top/bottom? Try to identify brokers in your social network.
+ Think about how you can draw connecting lines: they can be thicker, thinner, longer, shorted. They can be solid or dashed, dark or light, wavy, curved, straight or angular. Consider the challenge of showing people who are physically distant but personally close.
+ Think about the groups/relationships in which people participate in your network. They might range from tight knit groups like families, to loosely focused groups like a college dorm. How can you use color, shape, size to represent these different types of groupings?
+ The final result can be turned in as a digital file (photoshop, illustrator, flash) or on a physical sheet of paper. You might consider including a legend or codex for your diagram.
4. (Optional) Take part in the Small World's Research Project and discuss your results.

"The Wealth of Networks: Chapter 3. Peer Production and Sharing" by Yochai Benkler
"Silence is a Commons" by Ivan Illich

"The Tragedy of the Commons" by Garrett Hardin

Ivan-Illich_Silence-is-a-Commons.pdf62.23 KB
Yochai-Benkler_Wealth-of-Networks-Ch03.pdf766.16 KB

Nov 06 - Collective Intelligence

Lecture on crowd sourcing.


Distributed Labor

Steve Fossett

Art Related

Kevin Killian

The future of R&D




TOS - Terms of Service


By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire.

MySpace does not claim any ownership rights in the text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, musical works, works of authorship, or any other materials (collectively, "Content") that you post to the MySpace Services. After posting your Content to the MySpace Services, you continue to retain all ownership rights in such Content, and you continue to have the right to use your Content in any way you choose. By displaying or publishing ("posting") any Content on or through the MySpace Services, you hereby grant to a limited license to use, modify, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce, and distribute such Content solely on and through the MySpace Services.

Nov 20 - The Networked Public Sphere

the Evolution of Cooperation
The Prisoner's Dilemma

DUE: Wiki updates

Class Wiki

2 substantive original entries [150-200 words each]
3 substantive edits of existing entries

Email me the 5 links to your entries by Monday night.

  • note, in place of a text-based entry, you can upload a layout/image/design of your own creation. Uploading images you find online does not count here.


The Wealth of Networks: Chapter 7. Political Freedom Part 2: Emergence of the Networked Public Sphere by Yochai Benkler

Nov 27 - The Internet of Things

Lecture notes and links

DUE: Wiki updates

2 substantive original entries [150-200 words each]
3 substantive edits of existing entries

Email me the 5 links to your entries by Monday night.

  • note, in place of a text-based entry, you can upload a layout/image/design of your own creation. Uploading images you find online does not count here.

A Manifesto for Networked Objects (Why Things Matter) by Julian Bleeker

Technologies of Cooperation by Howard Rheingold

A video, podcast and other materials from a lecture Howard Rheingold gave about this topic can be found here

Julian-Bleecker_Why-Things-Matter.pdf943.23 KB
Howard-Rheingold_Technologies-of-Cooperation.pdf1.15 MB

Dec 04 - We the participants

Commercial ReMix

Original Apple Commerical Introducing the Macintosh computer in 1984

"Anti-Hillary" commercial produced by the Obama campaign
Published March 2007

Video by Astrubal critiquing the 20 year rule of Tunisian president Ben Ali
Published February 29th 2004.

Links for final project inspiration:
Dropping Knowledge

DUE: 4-5 page comparative essay

Compare and contrast your experience of writing an individual blog to that of co-authoring a wiki. Your essay should draw from class readings. Try to look critically at the output of both endeavors.

Some similarities and differences you might consider:

  • type of content generated
  • quality of the content
  • structure of the resulting document
  • freedom of expression
  • accountability
  • strengths and limitations of each
  • accessibility
  • interactivity, participation


We Media. Chapter 4: The rules of participation by Dan Gillmor

Dec 18 - Final Presentations

Last day of classes - presentation and discussion of final projects.

DUE: Final Take-Home Endeavor

You must work in groups of 2 or 3.

This endeavor is meant to be an integrative exercise, covering as much of the course work as possible, and also one in which you begin to come to terms with the points of view of the readings, class discussions, small group discussions, shares, websites, projects, the course as a whole, and your own reactions to them. I ask that you show your struggle to make sense of the course work and how you relate to it personally as well as intellectually. There are no right answers, and any judgments, reservations, criticisms, rejections, acceptances, celebrations, provocative questions, hesitations, insights, etc. are acceptable as long as they are backed up by careful references to sources (readings, websites, etc) and/or thoughtful reasoning.

Part 1

The Networked Public Sphere is being designed as we speak. How this occurs will govern what you can do, what you can see, what you look like and who can gain access to what. It is our responsibility to participate in envisioning this future.

Imagine: you have been provided with 10 gazillion dollars of venture capital and a crack team of engineers and computer programmers who can make anything you design.

The Challenge: design either a new web service or personal display (handheld or wearable device) that augments/enhances social interactivity.

+ What are you making, what does it do?
+ Who are you making it for - who is your audience?
+ What kind of identity information is emitted?
+ Is the display/service public, private, both?
+ How does it interact with other users - proximity, affinities?
+ What problem does it set out to address?
+ What are some related products/services - how does yours differ?

A 10-15 minute presentation in the form of Power Point or a webpage/blog. Please turn in either a copy burned to CD or a URL.

The presentation should incorporate the following:

  1. A name for your service or device (a neologism).
  2. Answers to the above questions.
  3. Use cases or scenarios that demonstrate typical user experiences.
  4. Visual designs - at least 4 visualizations that depict what the service/device/interface looks like and how it would be used

!!! your device/service does not have to work - but you need to explain how it would work.

Part 2

Respond to the following 2 questions - stating opinions is not enough, cite relevant authors in your discussion. I highly recommend that you write cooperatively with your classmates (as opposed to divvying up the questions and writing individually). Your answers will be stronger if you generate answers through discussing the various themes and issues raised by the course material.

Groups should write 3 pages per question.

  1. Sharing and participatory culture are essential concepts for this course. Explore your understanding of what these terms mean. To do this you might consider some of the various forms we explored in class (open-source, folksonomies, gift economies, blogs, the commons, SecondLife, social networks etc, etc, etc). Which concepts do you find most compelling? Do these phenomena enhance or detract from social interaction? How are our real lives (RL) merging, intersecting, blurring with our virtual lives (VL)?
  2. Yochai Benkler argues that the network allows citizens to change their relationship to the public sphere. What does he mean by this? What is the Networked Public Sphere? What is the democratizing potential (strengths and limitations) of the Internet? What is the role of freedom of expression in a democratic society?