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Social Production, Social Consumption

Choose one (1) and only one of the following sentences and craft a focused argument in response to it. Your response must incorporate at least one reading from each part of the course. This means you use at least one reading assigned before 10/6, one between 10/6 and 10/27, one between 10/27 and 11/10, and one after 11/10. Readings that have been assigned across those sections of the course can only be used to represent one section. You may re-use one, and only one, of the readings you have used before, in either of your short response papers earlier in the quarter.

You may agree with the statement or disagree with it. Whatever position you take, be sure to deal with potential challenges to it. The position you take will not affect your grade. Your answer should be between 8 and 10 double-spaced pages long (approx. 2400-3000 words using a 12-point font). Your answer may not exceed 10 pages (or 3000 words).

  • Digital media are an egalitarian force in American society.
  • Portable digital media fundamentally improve interpersonal relationships at every phase of the life cycle.




The strongest response papers will:

  • frame their       CLEAR arguments in terms of the course readings and discussions;
  • make a single case and explore its ramifications thoroughly (rather than, say, surveying multiple possible points of view)
  • demonstrate a command of the course materials, an ability to synthesize them and in the best papers, an ability to move beyond them toward an argument of one’s own as progression of the course material



Part 1: What Are Digital Media and How Do They Matter?:

Week 2: Tuesday, Sept. 29: The Rise of Postmodern, Networked Society

Thursday, October 1: The Early Internet and Web 1.0

  • Howard Rheingold. “A slice of my life in my virtual community.” High Noon on the Electronic Frontier: Conceptual Issues in Cyberspace. Ed. Peter Ludlow. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992/1996. 413-436.
  • “Pandora’s Vox: On Community in Cyberspace.” High Noon on the Electronic Frontier: Conceptual Issues in Cyberspace. Ed. Peter Ludlow. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996. 437-444. Available: and in coursework
  • John Perry Barlow, “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” Available: (and many other sites)


Part 2: Social Production, Social Consumption


Week 3: Tuesday, October 6: Commons-Based Peer Production

Lessig, Remix, Ch.’s 6,7, and 8.

Thursday, October 8: Free Labor and Surveillance Capitalism


Required Readings:


  • Zuboff, Shoshanna. “Big Other: Surveillance Capitalism and the Prospects of an Information Civilization.” Journal of Information Technology 30 (April 4, 2015): 75-89.
  • Terranova, Tiziana. “Free Labor: Producing Culture for the Digital Economy.” Social Text 18, no. 2 (2000): 33-58.

Week 4: Tuesday, October 13: Peer Production and Mass Media

  • Who Owns the Media: Ownership Chart The Big six”
  • Jenkins, Henry. “Quentin Tarentino’sStar Wars?” Chapter 4 of Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press, 2006. Available:
  • Andrejevic, Mark “Watching Television Without Pity: Online Viewer Labor.” Television and New Media. 9, No. 1, 24-46 (2008)

Thursday, October 15: NO CLASS: Prof. Turner is in Washington, D.C.


Week 5: Tuesday, October 20: Crowdsourcing and Piecework

  • Brabham, Daren C. Crowdsourcing. MIT Press, 2013.

Thursday, October 22: The Sharing Economy


Part 3: Digital Citizenship: Expression and Regulation


Week 6: Tuesday, October 27: Remix Culture & Copyright Law

  • Lessig, Lawrence. Remix. Chapters 1 and 5.
  • Lawrence Lessig, Code: and Other Laws of Cyberspace. New York, NY: Basic Books, 1999: Ch. 6 “Cyberspaces” & Ch. 7 “What Things Regulate,” (pp. 63-99).

Thursday, October 29: Who Controls the Internet?

  • Goldsmith, Jack L., and Tim Wu. Who Controls the Internet?: Illusions of a Borderless World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006, pp. 1-104




Week 7: Tuesday, November 3: Does the Internet undermine state control?

  • Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier, Big Data, Houghton-Mifflin, 2013.


Thursday, November 5: The Internet in China

  • King, Gary, Pan, Jennifer, and Margaret Roberts. 2014. “Reverse-engineering Censorship in China: Randomized Experimentation and Participant Observation.” Science 345, no. 6199: 1-10.
  • King, Gary, Pan, Jennifer, and Margaret Roberts. 2013. “How Censorship in China Allows Government Criticism but Silences Collective Expression.” American Political Science Review 107(2): 1-18

Part 4: Digital Media and the Life Cycle


Week 8: Tuesday, November 10: A Networked Youth

  • Rainie, Harrison, and Barry Wellman. Networked: The New Social Operating System. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 3-57.
  • Mizuko Ito, “Mobile Phones, Japanese Youth, and the Re-Placement of Social Contact,” forthcoming, in Rich Ling and Per Pedersen, ed. Mobile Communications: Re-negotiation of the Social Sphere. Available via coursework.
  • danahboyd, “Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life.” MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Learning – Youth, Identity, and Digital Media Volume (ed. David Buckingham). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007. Available: and via coursework.

Thursday, November 12: Digital Media and Romance

  • Eva Illouz, “Romantic Webs,” from Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism,Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2007; pp.74-107, 126-129.


Week 9: Tuesday, November 17: Digital Industries and the Life Cycle

  • Ellen Ullman, Close to the Machine: Technophilia and Its Discontents. New York: Picador, 2012


Thursday, November 19: Digital Memory and the End of the Private Self

  • Mayer-Schönberger, Viktor. Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009, ch’s 1,3,4 and 6.


Part 5: The Future?


Week 10: Tuesday, December 1: The Future?

  • Jackson, Steven J. “Rethinking Repair.” Chap. 11 In Media Technologies : Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society, edited by Tarleton Gillespie, Pablo J. Boczkowski and Kirsten A. Foot. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2013.


Thursday, December 3:

  • Sennett, Richard. The Culture of the New Capitalism. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006, Ch. 4 “Social Capitalism in Our Time”


  • Lessig, Remix, pp. 224-298


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