Stanford - Winter 2010
T/Th 2:15-3:30 ART2
M 7-9 pm (lab)
Media beyond the horizon of cinema and television present unique problems of definition and analysis. These forms are often gathered under the umbrella of "new" media, implying a dubious set of historical and ideological judgments. "Digital" is an equally compromised category, since computers have their analog layers and "old" media their digital innovations. Taking the digital -- information represented as discrete values -- as a reasonable approximation of the mechanics and fantasies of computation, this course surveys theoretical approaches to code, networks, and cyberculture. Taking familiar formations like web sites and video games as our objects, we will learn about how thinkers have understood and envisioned emerging media from the mid-20th century to the present day. In the process, we will develop our own methodological tools for becoming more critical "users" of digital media.
On Tuesday's meetings, the professor will lecture and lead discussion.
Thursday's meetings will consist of open discussion, with some students assigned to bring questions and facilitate for most weeks.
The first hour of Monday evening "labs" will be devoted to informal discussion and guided study of digital media artifacts. There is web-based "homework" in preparation for these sessions.
The second hour on Monday evenings is for either a skills tutorial or midterm project presentations.
To facilitate experiential learning, we will be using a dedicated website athttp:/
You are expected to complete all readings, a commitment of 100 pages or less per week. The majority of the assigned texts are drawn from two anthologies (available at the bookstore):
o The New Media Reader, Eds. Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003).
o New Media, Old Media: A History and Theory Reader, Eds. Wendy Hui Kyong Chun and Thomas Keenan (NY: Routledge, 2006).
Additional selections will be distributed electronically (PDF format), and you are responsible for printing these articles and bringing hard copies to class.
Copies of the anthologies and most other readings are on reserve in the Art library.
Laptops are encouraged in class, although there will be some designated laptop-free time. You are expected to be aware of your own attention and stay focused on lecture and discussion. If this doesn't go smoothly on the honor system, laptop use may be further limited. If you do not have a laptop that you can bring to class, please talk to the professor.
Attendance at all class and lab sessions is required. If you have a conflict or illness that causes you to miss class, contact the professor in advance. Grade penalties will be imposed for excessive unexcused absences.
Late work is discouraged. Most assignments are integrated with class activities and thus do not accommodate lateness. If you are facing extenuating circumstances and need an extension, contact the professor in advance. Grade penalties will be imposed for unexcused late work.
Plagiarism will not be tolerated. For more information on avoiding plagiarism and the rest of Stanford's Honor Code, seehttp:/
Students who have a disability which may necessitate an academic accommodation or the use of auxiliary aids and services in a class, must initiate the request with the Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC), located within the Office of Accessible Education (OAE). The SDRC will evaluate the request with required documentation, recommend appropriate accommodations, and prepare a verification letter dated in the current academic term in which the request is being made. Please contact the SDRC as soon as possible; timely notice is needed to arrange for appropriate accommodations. The Office of Accessible Education is located at 563 Salvatierra Walk (phone; 723-1066; TDD: 725-1067).
You will complete three blog posts, one multimedia group project, and a final paper. Handouts with detailed guidelines for each assignment will be provided. Due dates vary based on three groupings of students (see chart below). On weeks when you don't have other homework due, you will be responsible for either collaborative class notes or Thursday discussion questions.
.blog post (three, due Wednesday by midnight every third week)
In this informal writing assignment (similar to a 2-page paper), you will present an argument about the week's material that references at least one reading and one digital artifact. There is a tutorial on critical writing scheduled for January 11.
.group project (one, due Monday week 5, 7, or 8)
Working collaboratively, you will create a multimedia web-based work that engages with the theoretical perspectives we have studied. It should include at least two of the following components: text, hyperlinks/interactivity, images, audio, video. You are encouraged to use the course site as a platform, and/or the professor will talk with you about your technological needs and how to manage them. Tutorials on creating web pages and graphics/video editing will help. You will also have access to the resources of Meyer multimedia lab. Keep in mind that this is not a production course, and your project doesn't have to be technically ambitious to succeed. You will be evaluated based on your incorporation of course material, the originality of your critical approach, and the effectiveness of its presentation. Your group will present your project to the class on a Monday.
.notes (three, due Fridays)
Each week, one group will work together to assemble notes from lecture and discussion on a page at the course website (seehttp:/
.discussion (two Thursdays)
When you are assigned to Thursday discussion, you should prepare 1-3 questions before class. You are encouraged to read the week's blog posts and respond.
.final paper (one, due by 5pm on March 17 by email)
For your final assignment, you will expand one of your blog posts into a 7-8 page paper that draws on course texts to analyze a digital media artifact of your choice. The professor will meet with you individually to help you develop your argument.
A rubric with the criteria for assessment will be provided in advance for each assignment.
Final grades will break down as follows:
blog posts - 12% each
group project - 24%
final paper - 24%
discussion facilitating, wiki notes, and overall participation - 16% total
 CYBERSPACE / January 4-7
Monday - no class
o no reading - course intro
o John Palfrey and Urs Gasser, "Introduction" to Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (Basic Books, 2008): 1-16 [available athttp:/
 CYBORGS / January 11-14
blogs A - notes B - discussion C
Monday (choose at least one of the following)
o complete a Human Intelligence Task on Amazon's Mechanical Turk http:/
o create a WeeMee avatar http:/
o do three Turing Tests http:/
o bring in your favorite online video about cyborgs
tutorial: digital writing (blog posts)
o Donna Haraway, "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century," The New Media Reader: 515-541. [also online]
o Norbert Weiner, "Men, Machines, and the World About" (1954), The New Media Reader: 64-72.
o Alan Turing, "Computing Machinery and Intelligence" (1950), The New Media Reader: 49-64.
o N. Katherine Hayles, "Prologue" + "Toward Embodied Virtuality," How We Became Posthuman (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1999): xi-25. [PDF]
 HYPERTEXT / January 18-21
blogs B - notes C - discussion A
Monday - no class (MLK Day)
o "read" at least three texts fromhttp:/
o Vannevar Bush, "As We May Think" (1945), The New Media Reader: 35-48. [also online]
o Ted Nelson, "A File Structure for the Complex, the Changing and the Indeterminate" (1965), The New Media Reader: 133-146.
o Stuart Moulthrop, "You Say You Want a Revolution? Hypertext and the Laws of Media," The New Media Reader: 691-703. [also online]
o Lev Manovich, "1. What is New Media?" The Language of New Media (The MIT Press, 2001): 18-61. [PDF]
 CODE / January 25-28
blogs C - notes A - discussion B
o visit at least three web pages and view + read the source code (under the View menu in your browser)
tutorial: creating web pages (HTML and simple interactivity)
o Wolfgang Hagen, "The Style of Sources: Remarks on the Theory and History of Programming Languages," New Media, Old Media: 157-175.
o Friedrich Kittler, "There is No Software" http:/
o N. Katherine Hayles, "Speech, Writing, Code," My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2005): 39-62. [PDF]
o Marshall McLuhan, "The Medium Is the Message," The New Media Reader: 203-209.
 ARCHIVES / February 1-4
blogs A - notes B - discussion C
o create a google account + profile (if you don't have one already) http:/
o explore your account settings + dashboard
o use a google search (news, books, scholar, blogs, etc.) to find one reference relevant to this week's material http:/
tutorial: creating digital graphics and videos (basic open-source editors)
o Jacques Derrida, "Note" + "Exergue" "Preamble," Archive Fever (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1998): 1-31. [PDF]
o Cornelia Vismann, "Out of File, Out of Mind," New Media, Old Media: 97-104.
o Wolfgang Ernst, "Dis/continuities: Does the Archive Become Metaphorical in Multi-Media Space?" New Media, Old Media: 105-123.
o Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, "The Enduring Ephemeral, or the Future Is a Memory," Critical Inquiry Volume 35, Issue 1 (September 2008): 148–171. [PDF]
 NETWORKS / February 8-11
blogs B - notes A - project C
o view at least five visualizations athttp:/
o create at least one visualization using one of the demos athttp:/
o Gilles Deleuze, "Postscript on the Societies of Control," October 59 (Winter 1992): 3-7. http:/
o Alexander Galloway, "Physical Media" + "Form," Protocol: How Control Exists After Decentralization (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004): 28-79. [PDF]
o Alexander Galloway, "Protocol vs. Institutionalization," New Media, Old Media: 187-198.
o Tim Berners-Lee, "The World Wide Web," The New Media Reader: 791-798.
 USERS / February 15-18
blogs C - notes A - discussion B
Monday - no class (Presidents Day)
o play at least three video games (a selection of free online games will be provided)
o Lev Manovich, "2. The Interface," The Language of New Media (The MIT Press, 2001): 62-115. [PDF]
o Brenda Laurel, "The Six Elements and the Causal Relations Among Them" + "Star Raiders," The New Media Reader: 563-573.
o Tara McPherson, "Reload: Liveness, Mobility and the Web," New Media, Old Media: 199-208.
o Mary Flanagan, "Hyperbodies, Hyperknowledge: Women in Games, Women in Cyberpunk, and Strategies of Resistance," Reload: Rethinking Women and Cyberculture (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002): 425-454. [PDF]
 PUBLICS / February 22-25
blogs A - notes C - projects B
o create a YouTube playlist of at least five favorite videos (I'll provide access to a class account if you prefer)
o find one YouTube video that's relevant to class material (post the link in group bookmarks)
o read: "Learning the 5 Lessons of YouTube" by Alex Juhasz http:/
o Geert Lovink, "Deep Europe: A History of the Syndicate Network," New Media, Old Media: 287-295.
o danah boyd and Nicole Ellison, "Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship," Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13 (1) http:/
o Vicente L. Rafael, "The Cell Phone and the Crowd: Messianic Politics in the Contemporary Philippines," New Media, Old Media: 297-313.
o Lisa Nakamura, "Cybertyping and the Work of Race in the Age of Digital Reproduction," New Media, Old Media: 317-333.
 PRIVACY / March 1-4
blogs B - notes C - projects A
o play at least one social game on Facebook
o Philip Agre, "Surveillance and Capture: Two Models of Privacy," The New Media Reader: 737-760.
o Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, "Control and Freedom," Control and Freedom (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006): 247-297. [PDF]
o Ken Hillis, "Modes of Digital Identification: Virtual Technologies and Webcam Cultures," New Media, Old Media: 347-357.
o Theresa M. Senft, "The Public, The Private, and the Pornographic," Camgirls: Celebrity and Community in the Age of Social Networks (New York: Peter Lang, 2008): 77-95. [PDF]
 FREEDOM / March 8-11
blogs C - notes B - discussion A
o a list of sites to visit will be posted on the course website
class wrap-up + evaluations
o Richard Stallman, "The GNU Manifesto," The New Media Reader: 543-550. [also online]
o Lawrence Lessig, "1. 'Free'" + "2. Building Blocks: 'Commons' and 'Layers'" + "14. Alt. Commons," The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected Word (New York: Random House, 2001): 3-25; 240-261. http:/
o Julian Dibbell, "Viruses Are Good for You," New Media, Old Media: 219-232.
o Tiziana Terranova, "Free Labour," Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age (London: Pluto Press, 2004): 73-97. [PDF]
final papers / due March 17 by 5pm (email)