2008 Spring

Courses taught in Spring 2008.

COMM 225: Digital Media I (Service Learning)

Morgan Schwartz

office: Nugent 560, Room A
tel: 1-212-774-4865
email: mschwartz AT mmm DOT edu
web: http://sodacity.net/courses/


Section 01 Tuesday, 2:30 - 5:20 pm

Classroom: Nugent 556


Course Description

Digital and interactive media permeate virtually every aspect of our society from information delivery and product marketing to education and entertainment. In this course you will learn practical and critical skills necessary to become a technically proficient and thinking digital media maker. Literacy in any medium is the ability both to access (read) materials created by others and to generate (write) materials for others. In this course you will learn to "speak" the language of digital media and to become conversant with the computer as an expressive medium. Through hands-on training, you will be introduced to creative approaches to media production and to a range of software. The format of this class is designed to bridge practice and theory. Topics will include digital imaging, typography, animation, video, sound and web design. We will concern ourselves with "how" and "why" the digital world is constructed the way it is. Students will be challenged to deconstruct this world and to develop an ability to analyze and critique the cultural implications of digital media in our lives. Prior computer experience is not required, but students are expected to take the initiative to become comfortable operating a Macintosh computer.

Learning Goals

  • You will be able to understand the function and relationships of computer hardware and operating systems, input and output peripherals and the Internet.
  • You will be able to use Macintosh-platform digital media software including Adobe Photoshop (for image manipulation), and Macromedia Dreamweaver (for web design).
  • You will be able to present and articulate your creative ideas to others.
  • You will be able to give and receive constructive critical feedback in a group setting.
  • You will read, write, and think about the roles computers and media play in your life, in your creativity and in society in general.

Textbooks and Materials

USB Flash Drive (256MB or bigger) - OR - portable Hard Drive

required texts:
all required readings will be available online or handed out in class

optional technical texts:
Adobe Photoshop CS2 for the Web Hands-On Training by Tanya Staples
Photoshop CS2: Visual QuickStart Guide by Elaine Weinmann, Peter Lourekas
HTML, XHTML, and CSS: Visual QuickStart Guide (6th Ed) by Elizabeth Castro
Macromedia Dreamweaver 8 Hands-On Training by Daniel Short & Garo Green
Macromedia Dreamweaver 8: Visual QuickStart Guide by Tom Negrino & Dori Smith

optional history/theory texts:
The Reconfigured Eye by William J. Mitchell
Multimedia - From Wagner to Virtual Reality edited by Randall Packer & Ken Jordan
The New Media Reader edited by Noah Wardrip-Fruin & Nick Montfort

Service Learning

This course has a service learning component.

Important Dates:
Please mark these dates on your calendars. These sessions are required to meet the service learning component of the course. Please contact me ASAP if you have unbreakable conflicts.

March 15th 11:30 am - 1:30 pm at EHTP
March 29th 11:30 am - 1:30 pm at MMC
April 5th 11:30 am - 1:30 am at MMC
April 12th 11:30 am - 1:30 am at MMC

May 6th 5 pm - Service Learning Exhibition and Celebration at MMC

Grade Weights

Participation: 20%

A large amount of class time will be dedicated to group critiques, team projects and class discussion. I encourage you to take an active role in contributing to make our class a fun and dynamic place to be.

Weekly Assignments: 50%

This is where its at - you can't learn HTML by osmosis or wait until the end of the semester to cram for an exam. Multimedia production involves a complex spectrum of techniques and software. If you do the assignments each week you will do well. If not, you will fall behind rapidly. Weekly exercises are due at the beginning of class the week after they are assigned unless noted otherwise.

Rant or Rave: 5%

This 2-3 page paper will be assigned later in the semester. You will select a website, CD-ROM, multimedia technology or media phenomenon that interests you and make an analysis or critique. Your paper should address the following:
* describe the product/service - what does it do and for what purpose?
* who is the intended audience? who is the actual audience?
* what media elements are used and how do they contribute to or detract from the product/service's effectiveness
* place this product/service in the context of other media - does it extend a previous technology, what future impact will it have on society?
* offer your evaluation (critical or positive)

Final Project: 25%

This project will be self-initiated and should integrate many of the skills you will learn this semester. When the time comes I will suggest possible topics and approaches. You will have the option of working individually or collaborating with other students.


  • Warning - this course demands substantial work outside of class time to complete the projects. Unless you already own an Apple computer with the relevant software, you should plan on coming into the Digital Media lab for an additional 3 hours every week.
    Attendance is essential to succeed in this class. The skills and techniques taught are cumulative - they build upon previous ones. Missing just one week can make it very difficult to catch up. You will also note that class participation makes up a sizable percentage of your final grade - if you are absent you cannot participate and your grade will suffer.
  • Save different versions of your projects and save often. Make back-ups of your files.
  • Work in the lab with a friend - when learning new technology, 2 brains are usually better than one. You are welcome to work on your assignments at home but many students use the Multimedia Lab in room 556. Lab hours will be posted after the first week of classes. Students may not use the lab when another class is in session. If the lab is locked during regular lab hours you may get a key from the Security Desk.


Water/liquids are a excellent conductors. You can be shocked if you are touching water that touches electricity. Be careful with drinks around the computers!

Carpal Tunnel
Computer keyboarding, typing and use of the mouse are among many common activities that have been identified as contributing to repetitive stress induced carpal tunnel syndrome.

Attendance Policy

Attendance will be taken in each class. You are allowed one unexcused (no questions asked) absence, after which your final grade will drop substantially with each absence. In the event that an extraordinary circumstance will require you to miss a class, please let me know ahead of time, by calling me, or by email.


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.

Academic Honesty Policy

MMC fosters an academic community where students and faculty work together to create a learning experience that imparts knowledge and forms character. To achieve this, 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.

EHTP info

EHTP website:



2050 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10029


6 Train to 103rd Street
Walk east on 103rd toward 3rd Avenue
Turn left on 3rd Avenue
Turn right onto E 105th Street
Turn left on 2nd Avenue

We need to be at EHTP by 11:30 am on Saturday March 8. It would be ideal to be there 10 minutes early so that we can gather our thoughts.

For anyone who wants to travel with me, we will meet at the MMC lobby. I will leave promptly at 10:30 am.

Please come prepared with your digital cameras and lesson plans and/or handouts.


JAN 29: 01 - introduction

  • digital media - what is it?
  • computer basics - hardware, software, peripherals, i/o
  • mac operating system - how to find your way around [desktop, files, commands, tips]
  • how to find digital materials - google, MMC resources, library of congress, obiblio.org

FEB 05: 02 - photoshop is a hammer [ - digital imaging - ]

  • basic concepts - digital vs. analog, pixels, resolution
  • scanning demo
  • Photoshop basics: selection strategies - shape, edge, color, brightness, etc
  • image manipulation - curves, levels, brightness, contrast
  • tools - smudge, clone, etc

- "Overture" from Multimedia: From Wagner to Virtual Reality by Randall Packer & Ken Jordan
- "Chapter 1 & 4" from The Reconfigured Eye by William J. Mitchell

- download 10-20 online (digital) images for self-portrait project
- collect 1 physical (analog) image of your favorite celebrity that is scratched/damaged [you can provide the scratches]

FEB 12: 03 - photoshop is also a kitchen [ - digital imaging - ]

  • layers, filters, adjustment layers
  • discuss strategies of collage and composition
  • in class exercise - play photoshop ping-pong

- "Chapter 8: Computer Collage" from The Reconfigured Eye by William J. Mitchell

"cosmetic surgery" : scan, repair and enhance a scratched/damaged image of a celebrity - be prepared to show all 3 stages

FEB 19: 04 - text as sound [ - typography - ]

  • basic concepts - types [serif, sans-serif, mono], screen issues
  • typographic design issues - flow, spacing, color, contrast, weight → readability
  • in class exercise - sound interpretations

- "Chapter 9:" from The Reconfigured Eye by William J. Mitchell

"self-portrait" : create a collaged representation of yourself using the images you collected in week 1 and/or scanned images/objects

FEB 26: 05 - web web web [ - HTML - ]

  • Hey, what is the World Wide Web and how does it actually work?
  • hand coding HTML - basic tags, basic text formatting
  • 'view source' in class exercise - code sharing: Frankensite.

- "The Cut-Up Method of Brion Gysin" from The New Media Reader by William S. Burroughs
- "The Future of the Novel" from Multimedia: From Wagner to VR by William S. Burroughs

"Propaganda" : Manipulate an image to change its meaning. You should do this by incorporating text and/or adding/removing visual information. Your aim is to influence the opinions of people, rather than impartially providing information.

MAR 04: 06 - web web web web web web [ - HTML - ]

  • incorporating images and links [still hand coding]

- "Chapter 10: Identity Crisis" from Life on the Screen by Sherry Turkle

"cut-up" : Use what you know of HTML to format the text of a poem or song lyric into an interesting web page layout

MAR 25: 07 - image optimization and animation [ - digital imaging - ]

  • concepts - image types [JPG, GIF, PNG], transparency, browser safe, anti-aliasing
  • optimizing images for use on the web [ImageReady]
  • creating animated GIFs [ImageReady]

- "Chapter 2: The Vocabulary of Comics" from Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

"false identity" : Develop a false or fictional identity for an online dating service. Your web page should use only "shared" images and incorporate links to external sites.

APR 01: 08 - web authoring [ - HTML - ]

  • basic tour of Dreamweaver
  • how to set up and organize a project
  • text formatting, images, links the Dreamweaver way
  • some basic approaches to layout - tables

"exquisite corps" class project - create 3 animated GIFs: head, torso & legs

APR 08: 09 - web authoring part 2 [ - HTML - ]

  • layout continued
  • navigation, architecture, sitemaps
  • imagemaps

"mini-portfolio" - create a simple webpage with links to the previous weeks assignments

APR 15: 10 - turn up the volume [ - SOUND - ]

  • basic concepts - sampling rate, frequency, file formats
  • how to capture/record/digitize/download audio & sounds [Audio Hijack Pro]
  • basic sound editing, loops, and FX [Garage Band]

"Sitemap" - Develop a sitemap and 1 page written proposal for your final project

APR 22: 11 - lights, camera ... [ - VIDEO - ]

  • basic concepts - frame rate, aspect ratio, CODECs, file formats
  • how to capture/record/digitize/download video
  • basic editing, effects, transitions, audio [iMovie]

- "Rant or Rave" - see 'Assignments' section of the syllabus [due in 2 weeks]

APR 29: 12 - open lab [ - WORK - ]

  • work on your final project in class

MAY 06: 13 - Final Class

  • in class critique of final projects
  • wrap-up and what comes next! Flash teaser [brief tour]

MAY 13: 14 - Final Class

Class notes and projects

Class notes, links, resources and projects.

Cosmetic Surgery


Collect 1 physical (analog) image of your favorite celebrity that is scratched/damaged [you can provide the scratches].

For this project you will need to turn in three .psd files:

  1. Scan your image using one of the scanners in the Digital Media Lab. Crop/resize this image so that it is 800x600 at 72dpi. [cosmetic-scan.psd]
  2. To the best of your abilities, repair the scanned image using Photoshop. [cosmetic-repair.psd]
  3. Give your celebrity some cosmetic surgery ‚Äì explore tools, brushes, filters to transform the original image. [cosmetic-improve.psd]

Self-Portrait Collage


Using a minimum of 10 different images, create a composition that explores collage to make a representation of your self identity. The image should be 800x600 pixels.

False Identity


Develop a false or fictional identity. Create a website (3 page minimum) for this identity that acts as a dating profile (who are you, what are you looking for in an ideal mate, what are your interests). Your web site should use only "shared" or found images and should incorporate links to external sites.


In Sherry Turkle's chapter "Identity Crisis" she discusses how the ability for people to easily create multiple online personae challenges our notion of fixed identities. In the past, a strong identity was associated with stability and clear boundaries. But Turkle argues that in today's world, this concept is being replaced by a notion that celebrates flexibility and mutability. She suggests that the "home page" is a compelling manifestation of "new notions of identity as multiple yet coherent". When working on this assignment, consider your own online identity. What are the freedoms and risks associated with your online life? Are there things that are safer and easier to explore online rather than in RL [real life]?


Sherry Turkle

Basic HTML tags

Web Color Codes:

Web sites:

Exquisite Corps


For this assignment you should create 3 separate animated GIF files that when stacked on top of each other create the complete body of a person - or - creature - or - animal - or - thing - or - robot. The 3 images should portray the head, torso and legs of your "being". Each file should have dimensions 300 pixels wide by 200 pixels tall. Save each body part both as a .psd file and "Save optimized as" a .gif file. You should turn in:

head.psd, head.gif
body.psd, body.gif
legs.psd, legs.gif

Animations attract attention and can enliven a web page design. Animation techniques can include motion, zooming, fading [in or out], spinning, color changes, selective revealing and more.

Exquisite corpse is a method by which a collection of words or images is collectively assembled. It is a technique invented by Surrealists in 1925, and is based on an old parlor game called Consequences in which players wrote in turn on a sheet of paper, folded it to conceal part of the writing, and then passed it to the next player for a further contribution. Later, perhaps inspired by children's books in which the pages were cut into thirds, the top third pages showing the head of a person or animal, the middle third the torso, and the bottom third the legs, the game was adapted to drawing and collage.




Do a Google search for "animated gif" to find many archives of free images.

under issues select "Font Cockpit" and "Fun Fun Fun"





Using Dreamweaver, create a personal portfolio website for the projects you've completed so far in class. You can design the website anyway you like, but it should include the following elements:

  • A homepage with some basic information about you and what this website is for, this file should be called "index.html".
  • Six additional pages, 1 for each of the previous projects - include a title and brief description about your project [cosmetic surgery, self-portrait, propaganda, cut-up, false identity, and exquisite corps] *note - for cut-up and false identity you can simply link to the pages you've already made
  • Navigation - every page should have links to every other page

!! Important !! - Don't remove any files from your original projects folders - instead, duplicate any files that you need for your portfolio. (ie you should still have your original files in your folders for project 1, project 2, etc.)


http://netdiver.net/ - a great directory of innovative web design for inspiration

COMM 400: Communication and the Future

Morgan Schwartz

office: Nugent 560, Room A
tel: 1-212-774-4865
email: mschwartz AT mmm DOT edu

SPRING 2008 Section 3

Monday 7:15 - 9:55 pm

Nugent 460


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.

Class Website

The class website is located at: http://sodacity.net/courses

The syllabus/schedule for this course evolves somewhat over the course of the semester, so be sure to check the online version frequently to keep current with reading assignments, etc.


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

Grade Weights - details below

Participation 10% [includes in-class work]
Reading Responses 15%
Presentation of a reading and discussion handout: 10%
Peer Reviews 5%

Final Project
Research Proposal 5%
Literature Review 10%
Rough Draft 5%
Final Paper 25%
Final Presentation 15%

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 1 absence 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. Coming in late or leaving early is noted as a 1/2 absence.

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.

Reading Responses 15%
One-page Essays - you will write 3 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 - default settings please (Times New Roman, 12pt font, double-spaced, 1 inch margins)

Presentation of reading and discussion questions: 10%
Next week, each of you will have an opportunity to volunteer with 2 classmates to lead discussion during one of our classes during the semester. Look ahead in the syllabus and consider which one you are particularly interested in offering your insights on and presenting to your classmates. (Those who do not take the opportunity to volunteer will be assigned a week.) On the day or your class you will bring to class 22 copies of a two page document that presents the following:

  1. A summary of the articles and their main points. (In paragraph form - no bullet points.)
  2. A minimum of six well-thought out questions that will spark conversation that evening. At least two of these should link the weeks readings to other reading we have done up to that point in the class or for the evening. Open-ended questions that encourage us to push beyond the reading to a consideration of future implications will be particularly appreciated and fruitful.

You will distribute a copy of this to each member of the class and then lead our discussion of that reading/topic for the first part of class. NOTE: If you are absent on the day of your assigned reading or are not prepared with the handout to discuss it, you will fail this assignment and an "F" will be factored into your final course grade.

Peer Reviews 5%
This course has a peer review component. You will be part of a team of 3 students. For the two stages leading up to your final paper (Research Proposal, and Lit Review) 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.

Research Proposal 5% - due February 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 March 24
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.

Rough Draft (includes interview) 5% - due April 14
The rough draft of your paper should include analysis of an interview conducted with an individual relevant to your field of inquiry. 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 May 5th
Your 15-20 page paper with a complete list of works cited.

Final Presentations 15% - due May 5th or May 12th
Details to be discussed later in the semester.

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.

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.

Grading Standards for in-class assignments:

0 - Inadequate. You did not respond, you were absent, or your response clearly indicates you did not do the reading and are unprepared and unable to contribute.

1 - Fair. You need to demonstrate more clearly that you read and understand the material and to more thoughtfully interact with the questions and the class.

2 - Good. You have read the material and can thoughtfully reflect upon it and consider the context of the question/task in your response.

3 - Excellent. You demonstrate a solid understanding of the reading, can move beyond it to thought-provoking questions or carefully considered responses.

Grading Standards for written work:

Some kind of "C"
Proposes and explores an adequate, if not particularly creative, opinion about the topic.
Uses adequate, if somewhat superficial evidence.
Demonstrates knowledge of the course material and perspective that may be a bit cursory.
Relies heavily on course material or minimal secondary sources.
Work reflects competence, but stays at a general or predictable level of understanding.
Citations are mostly correct, although some irregularities in MLA form may be present.
Some irregularities in style and grammar, but not so extreme as to interfere with meaning.

Some kind of "B" - fulfills all of the above, and also...
Proposes and explores an insightful opinion about the topic.
Demonstrates a complete and accurate understanding of the pertinent issues and concepts.
Uses detailed evidence from a variety of sources skillfully.
Presents a reasonable degree of insight and broad level of analysis.
Sources are used appropriately and with discretion to contribute to a more complete and original discussion than the average paper.
Reduces errors in grammar to a minimum.

Some kind of "A" - fulfills all of the above, and also...
Offers an original voice on the subject/sheds new light on the topic.
Demonstrates comprehensive and solid understanding of the pertinent issues and concepts..
Uses a variety of detailed sources and shows creativity and tenacity in its intellectual inquiry.
Use of source material is skillful and sophisticated.
Demonstrates logical reasoning, effective organization, and substantial development.
The style of writing is polished and creative.
Grammatical errors are essentially nonexistent.

A "D"
Failure to minimally address all tasks in the assignment.
Demonstrates a serious lack of understanding, and fails to express the most rudimentary aspects of an approach to the topic.
Inappropriate use of citations such as to throw into question the ability or intention of the writer to properly give credit to his/her sources.
Simplistic treatment of the topic, as indicated by one or more of the following conditions: reiterating material from another source without providing interpretation or commentary; unsupported generalizations or meaningless specifics; "parroting" of an idea from a previously read source; "borrowing" the structure of another writer's discussion of the topic.
Frequent writing errors such as to interfere with the reader's understanding.

Failure - "F"
Work never submitted/submitted more than one week late.
Work is plagiarized.
Work has been submitted for another class.

Other policies and things to avoid:

Late Assignments: Assignments submitted up to one week after their due date will be accepted with a lowering of the grade one full level (a late prospectus that would have merited a B+ will be factored into your final grade as a C+.) Assignments more than one week late will not be accepted and an "F" will be factored into the final grade for that percentage. There is no possibility of submitting the rough draft more than two days late due to the timing of the conferences, and as that assignment is pass/fail, late rough drafts will receive a "D" and also receive less of my consideration due to the time crunch that they will create. Please note that illness on the day of class is NOT an acceptable excuse for a late assignment. You have the entire course schedule and due dates well ahead of time - PLAN AHEAD.

Also: I will not, NEVER, EVER accept assignments via email. I won't open attached files. Don't try it!!!!!!*

*This also applies to the recent phenomenon of "I know you don't accept assignments via email but I emailed you anyway to prove that I did it on time and I will print it out and get you a hard copy later." If it's not physically in my hands in class the day it is due it is LATE. This especially applies to "I don't have my 'Works Cited' page but will email it to you." (No, you may not.)


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?

List of thinkers

danah boyd

identity, youth culture, online communities, social media

Henry Jenkins

media convergence, fan culture, media and democracy

Lawrence Lessig

intellectual property, copyright, the commons

Howard Rheingold

sociology of online communities, mobile computing

Sherry Turkle

identity and technology, psychology, computer addiction

Seth Godin

marketing, business, entrepreneurship

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 pdf] 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

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


Week by week course schedule:

Jan 28 - Introduction

Hello, world!

Feb 04 - Will the future be numb?


Analog NokiaAnalog Nokia
Complete DIY Instructions

Bert is EvilBert is Evil


lecture notes:
Before Paris: a brief history of the internet


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."

William Gibson, excerpt from Neuromancer

Thomas-de-Zengotita_Numbing-American-Mind.pdf1.44 MB
Henry-Jenkins_Worship-at-the-Altar-of-Convergence.pdf1.4 MB
William-Gibson_Neuromancer-Ch4.pdf1.24 MB

Feb 11 - Can we ever leave Plato's cave?

lecture notes:
Walter Benjamin

Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction"
Susan Sontag, "Plato's Cave" from On Photography

Walter-Benjamin_Art-in-Age-Mechanical-Reproduction.pdf1.77 MB
Susan-Sontag_Platos-Cave.pdf1.28 MB

Feb 25 - Who stole my reputation?

DUE: Research Proposal

Discuss research methods

New Economies > The Long Tail, Reputation and Attention

Brittany, Alex, Kara

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

Daniel J. Solove, "The Future of Reputation" - Chapters 2 & 5 [handout]

Chris Anderson responds to Lee Gomes [read link]

Chris-Anderson_Long-Tail-Ch2.pdf750.25 KB
Chris-Anderson_Long-Tail-Ch3.pdf574.07 KB

Mar 03 - Can I sue your avatar?

DUE: Peer Reviews

Workshop Research Proposals

Online Identity and the Law

Sean, Roland

Beth Simone Noveck's blog
eBay's reputation system
Station Exchange

Beth Simone Noveck, "Trademark Law and the Social Construction of Trust: Creating the Legal Framework for Online Identity" [pdf]

Beth-Noveck_Legal-Framework-for-Online-Identity.pdf368.5 KB

Mar 10 - Who am we?

Identity > Online >> Political >>> Cyborg

Kaitlin, Jaime, Sasia


Sherry Turkle, ‚ÄúAlways-on/Always-on-you: The Tethered Self‚Äù

danah boyd, "Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life."

A Cyborg Manifesto (comic)

danah-boyd_Why-Youth-Heart.pdf1.29 MB
Sherry-Turkle_The-Tethered-Self.pdf206.47 KB

Mar 24 - Why participate?

DUE: Literature Review

Discuss Interview Methods

Politics and Participation

notes on digital media and politics

Katherine, Mark

DeanSpace, MoveOn.org, Blogosphere, Meetups vs. The Daily Me

"Photoshop for Democracy" by Henry Jenkins [pdf]

"The Daily Me" from Republic.com by Cass Sunstein [pdf]

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

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

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
Henry-Jenkins_Photoshop-for-Democracy.pdf1.78 MB

Mar 31 - Where is everywhere?



presentation: Kerry

Howard Reinghold, Smart Mobs - Chapter 7: The Power of the Mobile Many

Adam Greenfield, Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing - Introduction

Howard-Rheingold_Smart-Mobs-Ch7.pdf1.8 MB
Adam-Greenfield_Everyware-Intro.pdf58.13 KB

Apr 07 - Why share?


Chris, Xiomara, Tiffany

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

Courtney Love, "Courtney Love does the math." [pdf]

John Snyder and Ben Snyder, "Embrace file-sharing, or die." [web]

Lawrence Lessig, "Why Wilco is the Future of Music" [web]

Lawrence Lessig, "Some Like It Hot" [web]

Courtney-Love_Courtney-Love-does-the-math.pdf196.6 KB

Apr 14 - How do I look?

DUE: Rough Draft with Interview


Sara, Shakira, Kyle

lecture notes:
Visibility is a trap.


Christian Parenti, The Soft Cage Ch 6, Ch 10

Christian-Parenti_Soft-Cage-Ch6.pdf1.02 MB
Christian-Parenti_Soft-Cage-Ch10.pdf1.4 MB

Apr 21 - Individual Conferences

No Class

Make sure to sign up for an individual meeting.

Apr 28 - How do I hack thee?

lecture notes:
Hackers and Crackers and Slackers
Tactical Media
Gaming Machinima


May 05 - Final Presentations

DUE: Final Paper !


May 12 - Final Presentations