English 138: Spring 2009
A&S 128, the journalism lab Section 1: Mon 5-8
Section 2: Tues 5-8
ASSIGNMENTS This course is in part a "practicum," meaning that it emphasizes practicing or participating in the the object of study. In this case, what you'll "practice" is composing for digital publication to the world wide web:
Personal Hypertext Project. This can be anything you wish, so long as it expresses an aspect of your "networked self” and involves some form of research/information gathering (broadly construed), and at least 1800 words of your own writing. This can be a service project for an organization with which you're involved, or a fan site for an author, band, or sports team that you admire. It can be creative writing, an autobiographical photo-essay or travelogue, family genealogy project, or a tribute to a relative who has passed away. It can be an annotated edition of a favorite text, such as a poem, song lyric, or photograph. You will probably want to link this hypertext project to a personal home page, which you can use as a hub for your other projects for this class, pages for other interests, schoolwork, career needs (such as a resume, recommendations, or writing sample) etc.
Screenplay inspired by Cory Doctorow's Little Brother. 5-7 pages in screenplay format. The screenplay should be inspired by a scene in the novel. It can deal directly with Doctorow's characters and take them in a new direction or place them in a new situation, as in fan fiction and fan filmmaking. Or it can present entirely new characters and situations, addressing a question, theme or event raised by Doctorow's novel in ways that the novel does not.
Machinima Remix: Three-Minute Animated Film. We'll choose several of the screenplays for actual production as group projects. We'll build characters and sets in the Second Life virtual world, using motion capture software to create animated film footage which can be remixed with other media (sound, still photographs, other film footage, voiceovers). Results published to YouTube.
Analytical "hyper" essay: an academic website comprised of at least 2000 words, spread out over ten or more web pages hyperlinked together. The topics will be drawn from our reading of Little Brother. Some analysis of the novel is appropriate for this project, but the essay as a whole will address a major issue of internet culture. Some research will be required, and there will be a revision stage involving the creation of a printable (linear) version. Your screenplay and animated film can be linked to or embedded in this hypertext if you wish.
Civic-engagement final project: on individual topics generated in class exercises. All topics require my advance approval. Will incorporate a 3000-word critical hyperessay (academic writing involving research), spread out over fifteen or more web pages. Must include other design elements encouraging or enabling civic engagement. The supported activity will be the use of web-published video in some form (public service announcement, interview, testimony, journalism, guerilla theater, dramatization, etc). But with my approval you can use some technology other than video to satisfy the engagement portion: social media, weblog, wiki, graphic display, web-delivered video, photography, sound, etc. There will be a revision stage leading to a printable (linear) version of the hyperessay.
Informal Writing: Discussion Group Participation. In preparation for some, not all, of our class discussions of homework reading, you will be expected to participate in informal online writing about the reading. We'll use various formats for this online writing, including weblogs, wikis and synchronous small-group discussions in online environments such as Second Life. In order to permit discussion, this will often mean that you are required to do the reading 2 or 3 days _before_ our class session. Please note: this informal online writing and in-class discussion is as important as all of your other work combined. Since there are no examinations in this class, this will in most cases represent your best chance to demonstrate your comprehension of and engagement with your reading. You cannot receive a satisfactory grade in this class without demonstrating substantial, informed comprehension of the reading.
FEEDBACK AND GRADING. Because this is a practicum, you should expect to have direct, personal feedback from me in at least every other weekly class meeting. In addition, we will have at least two required conferences outside of class time and I am always available for help and additional feedback. Technology specialists will have special lab hours designated for individual assistance with the technological aspects of your work.
Attendance, academic integrity, and disability accomodation. Because of the participatory and hands-on nature of the learning you'll do in this class, I suggest that you miss no more than 1 3-hour class, and arrive late no more than twice. Unexcused attendence problems beyond these guidelines will be reflected by a reduction in your final grade (usually 1/2 to 1 1/2 letter grades); attendance issues affecting 30% of scheduled classes (that's 3 sessions) will usually result in a failing grade. SCU maintains a detailed policy on academic integrity that applies to this course and which you may consult in the University Bulletin or on the Provost's web site. Students who experience a circumstance or condition that may affect their ability to complete assignments or otherwise satisfy course criteria are encouraged to meet with me to identify, discuss, and document any feasible instructional modifications or accommodations. You may contact the Disabilities Resource Center in 214 Benson (extension 4111, TTY ext 5445). Any other issues? Please email or drop by the office to talk.
Grading Philosophy. You’ll prepare multiple versions of major class projects in response to feedback from me, technology trainers, other students and, possibly, from viewers of your projects online. At the end of the term, you’ll prepare a hypertext letter (a learning essay) linking to your web-published class work and discussing what you’ve learned. If you like, you can also send me an email proposing a final grade, based on assessment criteria we’ll develop over the course of the term. I'm always available to talk if you have questions about your grade and will always take time to help you figure out how to do as well as possible. As long as your participation remains satisfactory, extra credit is usually available.
My approach to grading is holistic: I prefer to take all of the assignments together, including participation, and consider the context of your personal goals for the class, your growth as a writer and, especially, your self-assessment. There are many good things about this approach: most people feel that it’s fair and they appreciate that it’s individualized, and they usually appreciate that I take their opinions seriously. Most people also feel that it helps to keep the focus on the writing process. On the negative side, we sometimes prefer what feels like the clarity, simplicity, and familiarity of a universal grading rubric that focuses on the results of your efforts: (“A C paper fulfills the assignment, but lacks sophistication,” etc).
My way of handling that is to ask you to develop a set of goals for yourself this quarter, and to describe the way those goals connect to the sort of grading possibilities you envision for yourself. You’ll share those goals and ideas with others and with me, and those exchanges may motivate you to revise your goals. Eventually that statement will be part of your portfolio: your concluding letter will reflect on the work you’ve done and on your goals. While I retain full responsibility for assessing your final grade, I take your assessments and grade proposals seriously. In most cases where there appears the possibility of a substantially different assessment, or in cases where you feel that you haven’t been meeting your goals for a variety of reasons, you can request (or I may suggest) extra credit activities.
This course surveys major issues of digital culture, such as race in cyberspace, cyborg feminism, pornography, gaming, censorship, civil liberties, indymedia, inequalities in media literacy, privatization, the "digital public sphere,”, the impact of globalization on the knowledge class, social media, and the emergence of various forms of counterpower, from the Zapatista revolution to flash mobs. Participants will play social impact electronic games, interact in the Second Life virtual community, and learn some of the major uses, features, and forms of writing for electronic media.
This course meets weekly in the journalism laboratory (A&S 128). It fulfills the university core technology requirement, the core "third writing" requirement, and the rhetoric and writing requirement for English majors. Four books have been ordered for this class; you will need to have a copy in your possession during class. (One text is available as a free download; you'll have to have a PAPER printout of the entire novel if you choose not to purchase the book.) We'll use a variety of web-authoring tools, principally the widely-used html editor in Macromedia's Dreamweaver Studio, available for free use in several on-campus labs. It may be necessary to share the expenses of some additional software for group projects. You will need a flash “thumb,” “stick,” or “keychain” drive to store your work in progress.
Cory Doctorow, Little Brother
Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody
Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture
David Williamson Shaffer, How Computer Games Help Children Learn
Week 1 Introduction: Hypermedia, Publicity, and Participatory Culture
Week 2 Web Authoring and Dreamweaver Tutorial
Week 3 Remixing Little Brother: Introduction to Machinima
Week 4 Making Movies in Second Life
Week 5 Social Media: YouTube and Facebook.
Week 6 Counterpower
Week 7 Media Ownership, Insurgency, Culture Jamming
Week 8 The Cybertariat
Week 9 Social Impact Gaming
Week 10 Networks from Below: Globalization and Technology
Week 1 Introduction: Hypertext, Publicity, and Participatory Culture
Discussion. What is the internet made of? Who “composes” the artifacts that are internet “places” and internet “culture”? How is the composition of internet culture different from the composition of television, radio, or mass-market book culture? Is “publishing” your music, poetry, memoirs, or political views on the internet different from other kinds of publicity? What do we mean by an internet “public”? In what ways do we people “read” or “view” internet culture differently from other forms of reading and viewing?
What is an information society? Is it a place where information technology creates a vast new “digital public sphere”? If so, who’s left out and whose voice matters? What difference does the electronic mediation of everyday activities make in such areas as communication, leisure, political organizing,and the generation and distribution of academic and professional knowledge? What is the the relationship between "knowledge workers" and other kinds of workers? How do we live out in our own lives the tension between intellectual property claims and the hopes for a "knowledge commons"? What are the consequences of an internet-mediated community and sociability, including the proliferation of subcultures and countercultures? In what ways did activities we associate with the internet take place at other times and with other technologies—was there a Victorian internet and a Victorian YouTube? How do the ideas of reputation, fame, and self-presentation unfold in your experience of social media? Describe some of the ways that technology mediates your experience of togetherness.
ACTIVITY: View examples of the Hitler meme. What are memes? What are the limits of their circulation? What do memes say about the culture in which they circulate? Jenna Wortham, Hitler Remixes Are Big On YouTube
ACTIVITY: Sketch your “networked self”--the web of associations, interests, passions, and commitments through which you express your individuality, emphasizing the institutions, organizations, and groups that structure and support your beliefs, interests and values.
ACTIVITY: In class: plan a website devoted to one aspect of your networked self. (This is your “personal hypertext project,” described above.) Begin by writing the splash page on a plain piece of paper, indicating any images you plan to add and underlining the places you think links are appropriate. If you don't have the links you need to move on, re-write. Then, on new pieces of paper, create the pages to which you projected links on the front page. Write the text and describe the images you imagine for these pages. Indicate further links—and create the next layer of pages, as before. Keep going until you have a paper model of a functioning website. Consider: what sort of navigation bar would help readers navigate this site.
1. Read pp 1-200 of Cory Doctorow's Little Brother. Take careful notes regarding all of the issues you think the book raises about the uses of electronic media and digital technology. You can take the notes in the margin of your copy of the book, but then transfer them to a word-processing file with your notes keyed to the page numbers/chapters that inspired them. This is very important, because several of your projects depend upon a careful and thoughtful reading of this book, and I will expect you to be able to support that work and our class discussion with direct reference to the passages in the book that inspired your thoughts.
2. Complete a draft of your Personal Hypertext Project. You should carefully test the organization on the paper mockup, imagining a reader landing on the splash page, then jumping around in the site using the hyperlinks you underlined: does the site feel usable and sensible to you? Feel free to consult the resources below for ideas regarding good website design, but you should also rely on your own sense of yourself as a reader and navigator of hypertext: what works for you?
Once you are comfortable with the paper mockup, please WRITE the text you propose for each of the pages in a word-processing program without formatting (no itals, bold, etc). Then collect the images you plan to use, and bring text and images to the next class on keychain drive (you can email them to yourself as a backup, but please bring the drive to speed up the process).
This can be anything you wish, so long as it expresses an aspect of your "networked self." This can be a service project for an organization with which you're involved, or a fan site for an author, band, film, game, or sports team that you admire. It can be creative writing, an autobiographical photo-essay, diary, or travelogue, family genealogy project, or a tribute to a relative who has passed away. It can be an annotated edition of a favorite text, such as a poem, song lyric, or photograph. It can be a mash-up of media texts of any kind. It can be "mystoriography" (a la Greg Ulmer; see below). Criteria: Must include at least 1800 words of your own writing, spread out over at least 10 web pages hyperlinked together. Borrowed noncopyrighted texts, including, images, must be credited with a link back to the source page. Include as one page a description of/links to sites that influenced your own design decisions.
Some randomly selected examples of student work in earlier versions of this class (different assignments):
Week 2 Web Authoring and Dreamweaver Tutorial Dreamweaver tutorial; publish your personal hypertext projects, using the images and text you brought to class on your keychain drives. Teri Escobar and/or Gloria Hofer will lead this section. In time available at the end of the tutorial, present site drafts to each other, and begin revisions. Note: this class is almost impossible to make up. Attendance is mandatory.
Technology Training has lab assistance in the Harrington Learning Commons Multi-Media Lab 135 every Sunday through Thursday evening from 7-10 pm and day hours as well. Contact Teri Escobar for news (firstname.lastname@example.org).
1. Revise your personal hypertext projects. You should count on doing this during the scheduled lab-assistance hours until you become comfortable with Dreamweaver.
2. Finish your reading of Doctorow, taking careful notes and transferring them to a word-processing file as before.
3. Draft a 5-7 page screenplay inspired by Doctorow's novel (see description of project, above). There are lots of free resources to help you format your screenplay, and even free screenwriting software, but don't get caught up too much in the details of formatting. If you are not familiar with the idea of fan fiction or fan movie-making, take a look at chapters 4 and 5 in Henry Jenkins' Convergence Culture. (And you might want to take a look at some of the videos and texts he discusses). Also helpful: short takes on fan and slash fiction at the MIT Communications Forum, in wired, glbtq.com and The Guardian, including the entries on fan fiction and associated legal issues in Wikipedia. Browse the Fan Fiction index.
Week 3 Remixing Little Brother: Introduction to Machinima
1. Present and discuss personal hypertext projects.
2. Discuss Doctorow (bring printouts of your note files).
3. Introduction to Machinima (see links below).
4. Decide on screenplays, form film production groups, begin brainstorming and storyboarding. In class, groups of two: reverse storyboard a machinima.
5. Create class weblog and open wikis for script production.
1. Prepare storyboards and shooting scripts. (Assume you'll have no trouble finding locations, objects, etc in SL.)
Activity: Introduction to SL, character and set building, finding props and location scouting.
Activity: Approval of storyboarded scripts.
Activity: begin film production.
Groups--check out a hard drive from media services and record at least SOME footage of your film; bring it to class. We'll talk about the projects in progress for the first hour. Final shooting and postproduction must be complete the following week.
Groups--finish shooting and editing your machinima; publish it to YouTube.
Independently: prepare an annotated bibliography of six to eight items on the topic of your hypertext. Onilne materials and course readings are okay, but try to have at least two additional scholarly references beyond course readings.
Week 6. Counterpower and Hypertext Workshop: For the first hour or so, we'll show completed machinima and discuss the reading: Flash mobs, Korean netizens and James F. Moore's The Second Superpower Rears its Beautiful Head. For the second ninety minutes, we'll workshop your academic website, including how to review the scholarly literature on a question.
Homework: Mandatory attendance: Thursday, May 7, 7:30 p.m. Lecture by Manuel Castells, "Technology in the Interest of Society: A Global Perspective." Location: Recital Hall, Center for the Performing Arts. Complete your second hypertext.
Homework: Mandatory attendance. Johanna Drucker and others, "Tactical Digital Aesthetics." May 20th, 6-8 pm, the de Saisset Museum, in conjunction with the Center for Science, Technology, and Society. Lecture, roundtable and viewing of "Tech Tools of the Trade: Contemporary New Media Art," artwork exploring the influences of technology. Discuss reading on the class forum. Also download and play the demo version of Crayon Physics for at least an hour. You can do this with a friend. (You'll enjoy it!). Also play at least one game each at lecielestblue and Persuasive Games and Molleindustria and Games For Change. Discuss your reading and games experiences in the class forum.
Publish topic proposal for final project, indicating your plans for multimedia component.
Week 10: Laboratories for Democracy: Networks from Below, Globalization and Technology Manuel Castells, The Network Society: From Knowledge to Policy (numbered pp 3-21 only); Jeffrey Juris, Networked Social Movements and Social Forums and their Margins Checklist for final project:
>annotated bibliography and review of literature
>3000 words of original writing (equiv. 9-10 linear pp), spread out over 15 web pages.
>original video: published to youtube and then embedded on a page in your site
>revise hypertext after doing linear version
>learning essay for term
>published by 11:59 pm PST, Thursday, June 11, 2009
>email the link of your main page to me (very important)
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