Coursenotes: SOCI221, Week 1

SOCI221/2AA – Sociology of Cyberspace

Meeting 1: September 8, 2014

Today

  • Getting acquainted
  • Knowing what to expect
  • Exercises
  • Prepare for next week

Getting to Know One Another

Building Connections

Classroom activities: you have/had to be there…

Discussion

What can sociology provide in the study of Internet?

Exercise

Online History

  • Go back to your early online history
  • What has changed?
  • Post something short

Call Me Alex

Alex’s Info

Alex’s “Cyberspace” Biography

  • Twenty Years Online
  • Pre–1993: Dabbling
  • Since 1993: Intense
  • Social media involvement
  • Geek ethnographer
  • Social Web course
  • Community manager

Alex’s Teaching

  • Diversified teaching
  • Constructivism
  • Applied work: participatory action research
  • Emphasis on appropriation

Active Learning

Gym Analogy

  • Own project
  • Effort, practice, and improvement
  • Personal trainer, not coach, drill sergeant, or employer
  • Ask questions

Peer Learning

  • Mutual help
  • Culture of sharing (“gift economy”)
  • Diigo
  • Interactions
  • Peer assessment
  • Forums

Teaching as Community Management

  • Building learning environment together
  • Community?
  • Enabling action
  • Learning network

This Course

Sociology of Cyberspace

What Do We Mean by “Cyberspace”?

Social dimensions

  • Geek Culture
  • Digital divide
  • Inequality
  • Class
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Democracy
  • “Digital Natives”
  • Education
  • Digital literacy
  • Diversity
  • Digital ethnography
  • Posthumanism
  • Appropriation
  • Communities
  • Social identity

This Semester

  • Somewhat hands-on
  • Exercises
  • No need for technical skills
  • Critical thinking

Coursepack

  • All texts available online
  • Diverse
  • Deep sociology
  • Average of two texts per week
  • Study smart: skim then focus
  • Texts as toolbox
  • Find something to share, to discuss

Course Policies

  • Contributions
  • Regular attendance expected
  • Online submissions before class
  • Late penalty
  • No extra credit

Contributions

  • What do you bring to the course, apart from what’s expected?
  • Active
  • Not necessarily “vocal”
  • Not necessarily in-class
  • Partly self-assessed (October 13)

Reflection Posts

  • Sociological insight
  • Active reading: toolbox, conversation starters
  • Making links
  • Outside sources (including videos, tweets, pictures…)
  • Aggregate grade (on 20) by Alex, at the end
  • Ok if miss one

Qualitative peer-assessment

  • Excellent: ~90%
  • Very Good: ~80%
  • Good: ~70%
  • Average: ~60%
  • Not Good Enough: ~50%
  • Disappointing: ~40%

Activities/Exercises

  • Some start in class
  • More hands-on, informal
  • Also qualitative peer-assessment
  • Aggregate grade (on 10) by Alex, at the end
  • Ok if miss one

Exams

  • Essay-type questions, but shorter
  • Compare and contrast, support argument…
  • In-class midterm (October 20)
  • University-scheduled final

Coming Up

Context Is Key

Required Texts

Vannevar Bush

As We May Think

Pre-Internet

  • From destruction to knowledge
  • Technology and the mind
  • Prospective
  • Memex
  • Partial inspiration for the Internet

Leiner et al.

Brief History of the Internet

Historical Background

  • Time depth
  • Technological details
  • Plumbing analogy
  • Skip sections
  • Focus on sections 6 (The Role of Documentation) through 9 (History of the Future)
  • Explicit issues: key people, communication between humans, defense, fits and starts, adoption patterns…

Between the lines:

  • Where did it happen?
  • Who made decisions?
  • Society shapes technology or technology causes social change?

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