Digital Culture & Sociology Syllabus

Autumn 2005 (Tuesdays 13:30-16:00, room 2A14 and 16:00-18:30, room 2A52)

Teacher: T.L. Taylor, (office: 3D18, phone: 7218 5035)
Teaching Assistant: Mikkel Sindberg Eriksen,                                                                

Description: This course will examine the ways that the new information technologies are affecting everyday life, culture, institutions, groups, and identity, dealing with issues about the representation, identity, production, consumption and regulation of IT. Grounded in the fields of cultural studies and sociology, the course will explore a variety of topics from several methodological approaches (statistical, qualitative, ethnographic, reader response, storytelling, textual analysis, etc.). Each session a particular case study/issue will be focused on in order to bring theory and practice together (an example could be the new social practices regarding the use of mobile phones). Potential topics include: the Internet and the construction of identity; community, group, and subculture formation online; digital technology and the law (i.e. intellectual property, hacker culture, file-sharing, etc.); gender and technology; the growth of the digital entertainment industry; the relationship between technology, ideology and values; political and policy issues (i.e. regulation and ownership); the representation of technology in popular media; play and leisure in digital media; the role of design in social/cultural formations.

Format and Grading: Lectures, discussion, group work, classroom exercises. Midterm group presentation and final group paper with oral examination. The group presentation will be produced in collaboration with team members in and out of class sessions. Midterm assignment will be graded pass/fail. Final examination will be oral format and based on short (3-5 page) synopsis. Grading will be according to the 13-scale.

Literature: The course compendium should be purchased from the ITU Bookstore. Please make sure to refer to the course website for any updates to the syllabus during the term. Secondary resources also available as links at the website. | Wiki | Midterm Guidelines | Synopsis and Exam Guidelines

If the Wiki is down you can find the links from the course here


August 30 – Introduction

September 6 – Technology &  Culture

Winner, “Do Artifacts Have Politics?” (note the version in the compendium is a condensed and edited version of this one)
Introna & Nissenbaum, “Shaping the Web: Why the Politics of Search Engines Matter
Parker, “Absolute Powerpoint

Explore: Search engines

September 13 –Remix Culture, Regulation, and Commodification

Jenkins, “Interactive Audiences
, “Whose Game is this Anyway?
Lessig, selection from Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace& Free Culture
McChesney, “So Much For The Magic of Technology and the Free Market”

Explore: Machinima, fanfic, modding, game EULAs

September 20 – File-sharing Case Study

Ebare, “Digital Music and Subculture: Sharing Files, Sharing Styles”
McGee & Skågeby, “Gifting Technologies”
Svensson & Bannister, “Pirates, Sharks, and Moral Crusaders: Social Control in Peer-to-Peer Network

Explore: Sharing networks and sharing websites/discussions/etc.

September 27 – Reframing  the Expert?

Dodson, “Worldwide Wikimania”
Gallo, “Weblog Journalism: Between Infiltration and Integration”
Udell, Audio interview on podcasting, available at
Udell, Analysis of the Wikipedia heavy metal umlaut page, available at

Explore: Wikipedia, journalism/activist  blogs

October 4 – Mid-term presentations I

October 11 – Mid-term presentations II

October 18 – No class due to Autumn holiday

October 25 – Private Lives, Public Spaces

Baudrillard, “The Ecstasy of Communication”
Cooper, Green, Murtagh, and Harper, “Mobile Society? Technology, Distance, and Presence"
Nardi, Schiano, and Gumbrecht, “Blogging as Social Activity, or, Would You Let 900 Million People Read Your Diary”
Powell, “E-Life and Real-Life: On- and Off-line Social Life in an Internet Café”
Laurier, “’Busy Meeting Grounds’: The Café, the Scene and the Business”

Explore: Blogs, a net café, mobile use in public space

November 1 – Social Networks & Online Communities

Donath & Boyd, “Public Displays of Connection”
Wellman & Gulia, “Virtual Communities as Communities: Net Surfers Don’t Ride Alone”
Lockard, “Progressive Politics, Electronic Individualism and the Myth of Virtual Community”

Explore: Usenet, message boards, Orkut/Friendster, Flick, mailing lists

November 8 – Identities, Bodies, Technologies I

Turkle, selection from Life on the Screen
Stone, “Will the Real Body Please Stand Up?”
Avatars Offline (in class)

Explore: A MMOG, multiplayer game, Second Life

November 15 – Identities, Bodies, Technologies II

Nakamura, “Race In/For Cyberspace”
Munt, Bassett, O’Riordan, “Virtually Belonging: Risk, Connectivity, and Coming Out On-Line”
, “Class, Race, and Online Participation”

Explore: Continue from last week

November 22 – Wrap-up / Final class

November 25 – Synopsis due (3 copies) in Exam Office by 15:00.

Jan 3, 4, 5 – Exams (daily schedule TBA)