Readings, week 1. Who will we be in cyberspace, or is there even still cyberspace?

For class on Friday, there are two things for you to read and one for you to look at, for background information.

  1. You should read the Langdon Winner piece we handed out in class. It is also available to students taking the class through Learn@UW: if you are a registered student in J176, you should be able to also download the chapter here.
  2. Please read “The IRL Fetish” by Nathan Jurgenson in The New Inquiry (June 28, 2012). It’s worth following his links in the article. It’s a short, nonacademic piece.
  3. Please take a look at the Overview of the “Social Media & Young Adults” study conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project (February 3, 2010).” You can click deeper into the report if you’re interested; you don’t have to read in depth.

Here are two sets of questions and provocations to consider.

  1. Winner writes that modernism throughout the 20th century has been a matter of covering up, hiding the system, moving the locus of power further from the people it affects. Think of a media entity that has both traditional and new media components, something that’s been around long enough in some form that it existed before the 1990s, like a newspaper or tv show (you can get creative with your examples… maybe something connected to a sports, crafts, music, running, your sorority or fraternity, a game or video game). How has the power shifted? Do you feel more or less empowered, more or less able to have an impact on that media or the world around you, as a result?
    Note that Winner’s article is from 1997, when the commercial Web was new, when people primarily used landlines and desktop computers, and before they had wifi (that took off around 2002-03). Do his critiques still stand up? Things have changed since the Pew Internet report from three years ago, still, where do the power dynamics lie?
  2. Nathan Jurgenson, in “The IRL Fetish” argues that there is no longer a divide between online and offline, that there is no IRL because it’s all real life, online and off. There is no off. What do you make of that statement: do you agree? Disagree?

You do NOT have any writing assignments due this week. If you have problems getting the readings, please contact me or Patrice. See you Friday!

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