Digital dive assignments

Each of these assignments give you a chance to dive into some aspect of digital media. You should post your 250 word responses to Google+ Learn @UW. These will be more informal and conversational in tone. These are graded on a yes/no (that is, pass/fail) basis, and are due no later than the start of section on Friday.

Please note that these may change during the semester. I’ll update them accordingly and let you know on the blog’s main page that that’s the case.

Week 2, due 9/13/13

  • Set up (or another RSS reader) and choose to follow 5 blogs that match the interests of your group blog topic. What blogs strike you as well-designed and visually appealing? Why? What blogs strike you as well-informed and loaded with interesting, useful, or provocative content? Why? What blogs seem to have vibrant community participation (comments, backlinks, blogrolls, whatever)? Why?
  • Write a post on the Google+ group that answers these questions. Upload these to the Learn@UW dropbox for your section. In the future, I’d like you to be submitting them online in some way, but I haven’t figured out what’s best yet. I will tell you when we make that change.

Week 3, due 9/20/13

  • Self-stalking your digital puppet. All students need to thoroughly search their current online personas to decide how much to protect their privacy in the blog assignment. Use Google to search all combinations of your name (first/last, first initial/last, etc.). Search Google for your current phone number, and your three previous phone numbers. Search Google for your email address. Search Facebook from a computer other than your own to see what comes up on your public profile. Post to Learn@UW’s dropbox a 250 word response that outlines what you found (or didn’t find.)

Week 4, due 9/27/13

  • Perception and portrayal. How do you portray yourself on different social networking websites, in text messages and in email? How does your tone differ and how does this correspond with who you consider yourself to be “in real life?” Now survey the size and scope of your Facebook network — how many friends, how many close friends, how many degrees of separation between your friends. Then survey the homogeneity of your Facebook network — how many friends at same school, same town, same high school, same politics, same religion, same major, same age. Post to Learn@UW’s dropbox a 250 word response. For one-half point extra credit, post it as a “Note” on Facebook for your friends to comment on. Due Friday in section.

Week 5, 10/4/13

  • Fact-check a Wikipedia or Wikia entry. Pick a topic that you have studied or are studying at the UW, and find a Wikipedia or Wikia entry related to that topic. Fact-check the Wikipedia entry using at least three outside sources. You may want to consider not only whether everything stated in the Wikipedia article correct, but whether or not the article takes the correct tone, provides the correct emphasis, or focuses on the most salient aspects of the topic. Is it useful, or trivial? Visit the “talk” page for the article; has there been controversy among the article authors? Post to Learn@UW’s dropbox a 250 word response.
  • For one-half extra credit point, edit the Wikipedia article in order to improve it, and turn in a printed version of the article with your edit highlighted to your TA.

Week 6, due 10/11/13

  • Take a look at the terms of service for Facebook, Instagram, or another web service that you use. How long is it? How hard or easy is it to read? What is one thing that you expected and one thing that surprised you in the terms of service? Was there a controversy around the terms of service (such as Instagram or Facebook) and did the TOS change as a result? Post to Learn@UW’s dropbox a 250 word response.

Week 7, due 10/18/13

  • How are you seen as data? Install the Collusion web plugin (or work with your professor or TA if you cannot do so) to see what your digital trails reveal to the websites you visit. See this quick article for more information. ( ) What sites and companies are tracking you? How does this affect the ads and content that you see? What is your stance: do you find that they cause you to see relevant content, do you find them intrusive, or something in between? Post to Learn@UW’s dropbox a 250 word response.


Week 9, due 11/1/13

  • Find a free essay (as much of one as you can get for free) from an Internet paper mill such as the ones here: —and analyze it. Where is it strong? Where is it weak? Printed one-page, single-spaced reading summary/critiques due in section. Post to Learn@UW’s dropbox a 250 word response.

Week 10, due 11/ 8/13

  • This one is creative. Write a dialog between the objects in a room or place that you spend time—your apartment or dorm room, the gym, the dining hall. If that space were a smart space, what would it be finding out about you, asking about you, and how would it be adapting to you? Have fun with this.Write either:
    – A description of your apartment or gym or dorm or dining hall (or something similar) as a smart space.
    – A dialogue of the sensors talking to each other. What information do you think they would exchange? What would they want to know about you, and what would they want to hide that they know?
  • Post to Learn@UW’s dropbox a 250 word response.

Week 11, due 11/15/13

  • What is the last great song, track or piece of music you heard? How did you hear about it? How did you get it? Where do you go to get music? Post to Learn@UW’s dropbox a 250 word response.

Week 13, due 11/22/13

  • Experiencing online education. Sign up for a free Coursera, EdX, Udacity or Khan Academy course that is already in session. What are the different elements of the course (videos? podcasts, quizzes, discussions, Meetups…?). View a couple of video lectures (no longer than 25-30 minutes total).
  • Write a summary & critique of the experience. Some things you might answer: What was the quality of the video and assignments? How lively were the discussion forums? How is the work graded? (Robograding? Peer grading? Something else?) And very importantly: how would a MOOC work at UW-Madison, in light of the kinds of courses you’ve taken so far? Would you take a MOOC for credit? Post to Learn@UW’s dropbox a 250 word response.


Week 15, due 12/6/13

  • Visit a partisan political blog and trace its virtual community. What topics of stories do they cover, and what topics do they ignore, compared to Google news? What mainstream news sources they cite (positive and negative)? What non-profit experts they cite (positive and negative)? What mainstream columnists do they cite (positive and negative)? What other blogs do they recommend? Post to Learn@UW’s dropbox a 250 word response.

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