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English 138: Spring 2012
A&S 128, the journalism lab
T/TH 340-520 PM

What to expect. This class features active, collaborative, problem- and project-based learning by discovery. It is 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 and civic engagement. You'll explore how digital literacy is re-shaping the relationship of academics, professionals, and activists to the public sphere.

Aspects of this kind of learning are often called situated, which means you'll work on real-world problems that don't usually have obvious solutions. You'll seek to become an actual, contributing member of a community of concerned persons researching a problem.

This can be exciting.

It can also create some anxiety, because many of us are trained to believe that education is about taking great notes and being sure we have the "right" answer. Even our classrooms are designed to reinforce bad 19th-century ideas about teaching and learning.

But real researchers in universities and corporate labs, or professionals like physicians, lawyers, dancers, journalists and architects don't sit in rows and regurgitate information. Ditto for entrepreneurs, managers, and engineers.

For professionals in many fields, most days are filled with thinking and writing about problems to which there are no obvious right answers. Often the problems are just as difficult to define as the solutions.

Dealing with the unknown and the contested--with ambiguity and uncertainty--can lead to cognitive overload. Being a professional is a lot like being a writer or any other kind of artist--a lot of creative problem-solving is required. Sometimes it's easier just to follow directions!

The effectiveness of this kind of learning is strongly supported by decades of research, especially by comparison to traditional forms of classroom activity: how long did you remember the information you crammed for your last test? These are proven, especially effective ways of learning to write and think.

Another potentially good thing is that you will have a major role in choosing how to direct your time and energy in this class. The majority of students are quite proud of the work they do here.

There are drawbacks to this kind of learning. It is harder to coast. In project-based learning, completing an assignment poorly takes almost as much time as completing one successfully. For the same reason, i
t's harder to catch up if you fall behind. There's no way to last-minute cram for this class.

It can be either thrilling or disconcerting for so much of your work to be out in the open, under the scrutiny of other students and other professionals.

Finally: while the amount of work assigned in this class is really around average, it will feel like more if you don't have genuine enthusiasm for the topics and projects you choose. This will be especially the case in the second term.

If you have concerns at any time, be sure to ask in class or, if it's more comfortable for you, arrange to see me privately. I can help!

ASSIGNMENTS

Personal Hypertext Project. This should express an aspect of your "networked self” and involve some form of research/information gathering (broadly construed). You should include 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. See plenty of examples and learn more here.

Midterm: Hypertext Response Essay. Thoughtful discussion of course readings with citations for brief quotations and paraphrases hyperlinked back to source material.

Civic-engagement project: Tactical media projects on individual topics generated in class exercises. All topics require my advance approval. Will incorporate a 2000-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.

Final: Reflective hypertext essay. Reflect upon your learning in the class. In particular, analyze your tactical media project using several of the course readings as a lens.

Informal Writing, Discussion, Independent Reading, and other forms of Participation. In preparation for (and during) some class discussions of homework reading, you will be expected to participate in informal online writing and other activities.

FEEDBACK AND GRADING. Because this is a practicum, you should expect to have direct, personal feedback from me frequently during class meetings. 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 once. You will need to get notes and make up the work in missed classes. 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.

 

 

 

THE INTERNET AS PARTICIPATORY CULTURE. This course explores major issues of the digital public sphere, especially the rising interest in electronically-mediated civic engagement and collaborative participation in cultural production. Last year's projects: Alison Baileys Julie Borges Courtney Chinn Emma Crnkovich Kendall Fleming Nick Griffin Rogelio Hernandez Luke Kantola Kat McHenry Mindy Ngo Myrna Padilla Julianne Parayo Josh Ronen Paul Sanchez Meredith Schreier Elizabeth Setka Farzan Sharifzada Erin Stines Amanda Taylor Caitlin Whalen Geva Whyte Taylor Conte Michelle Fairbank Michael Geffre Zach Lee Elizabeth Lozano Hoda Magid Rachel McGuigan Durany Mohammed Alex Moore Alex Piccininni Jonathan Taniguchi Andrew Tran Will Truettner Montana Whitington Travis Wingo

Your work in progress: Rafael Alfaro-Lopez Sophia Bayless Megan Carlson Jennifer Coleman Rachel Davidson Natalie Flores Karla Gaitan Athan Hsiao Able Hsu Kyle Jensen Nikolas Jones Dan Marquez Leah Nascimento Kim Reinke Josh Rombro Liz Wassmann

Unit 1 All Media are Social Media
Week 1 Introduction: What is "Participatory Culture"?
Week 2 Participatory Culture's Long History
Week 3 Selfhood, Modernity, and Technology

Unit 2 The Creative Commons
Week 4 Pajamas Media Convergence
Week 5 Remixing vs. Crowdsourcing
Week 6 Ownership, Piracy, Parody, Authorship

Unit 3 Networks From Below
Week 7-8 Civic Engagement as Contagious Rebellion
Week 9-10 Youth, Digital Publicity, Games & Change

Six books have been ordered; you will need to have a paper copy in your possession during class; no electronic readers, tablets, or laptops are permitted during discussion or lecture. The other readings (such as those by danah boyd, Lawrence Lessig and Jane McGonigal) will be available free online or distributed in pdf. We'll use open-source web-authoring tools and media-composition software available in several on-campus labs. You will need a flash drive to store your work in progress.

There are two projects plus written take-home essay assignments on the course readings for midterm and final. This course fulfills several pathways, the university core technology requirement, the advanced writing requirement, and the rhetoric and writing requirement for English majors.

Tom Standage, The Victorian Internet
William Powers, Hamlet's Blackberry
Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody
Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture
David Shaffer, How Computer Games Help Children Learn
Leah Lievrouw, Alternative and Activist Media

Week 1 Hypertext, Publicity, and Participatory Culture
T 4.3 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?

THEME: 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?

What is technology anyway? ("This machine kills fascists," said Woody Guthrie and "This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender," said Pete Seeger.)

ACTIVITY: View examples of the Hitler meme (Downfall remix video). What are memes? What are the limits of their circulation? What do memes say about the culture in which they circulate? If they circulate "virally," what are the vectors for contagion? Jenna Wortham, Hitler Remixes Are Big On YouTube

Hitler is informed of the iPad Hillary's Downfall Hitler Finds Out Sarah Palin Resigns Hitler Gets Banned From Xbox Live Hitler Phones a Call Center Hitler and the Vuvuzela Hitler Learns about the Downfall Parodies

ACTIVITY: Sketch the vectors of contagion that comprise your “networked self”--the web of associations, interests, passions, and commitments through which you acquire & 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.

HOMEWORK: 1. Complete a paper mock-up draft of your Personal Hypertext Project including the full text and images you would like to use. Bring digital copies of the text and images on a flash drive to the next class (meets in library 203).

2. Request your web authoring account at http://webpages.scu.edu

TH 4.5 Web Authoring Tutorial MEETS IN LIBRARY MULTIMEDIA LAB (MML), FIRST FLOOR. Publish your personal hypertext projects, using the images and text you brought to class on your flash drives. Gloria Hofer will lead this section. NB: this class is almost impossible to make up. Attendance is mandatory.

Homework. Try to comprehensively redesign your Personal Hypertext Project. Add new pages. Revise the writing, image selection, organization and typography. Add a page with a 300 word essay linking to your design inspiration for the revision. Don't worry if you can't remember how to publish: create and save the pages in Kompozer. If you're having problems with the program, create the pages on paper and store the images/text/etc on your thumb drives and assemble the pages in class.

For design inspiration, explore the Webby Awards, plus former students here and here, and Gube's 20 Fresh and New Design Galleries and 10 Unusual Places to Get Design Inspiration.

For typography, view Gube, 20 Websites with Beautiful Typographyand use a search engine to explore font image generators such as interactimage.com. Try using a font generator to create unique and appropriate headlines for your site.

In addition to the staff support offered by Gloria Hofer and her colleagues in media services, Technology Training supports this class with student lab assistance in the Harrington Learning Commons Multi-Media Lab 135 every Sunday through Thursday evening from 7-10 pm. They are also available Tuesdays 1:45-3:30 in Room 203. Email: tescobar@scu.edu

Week 2 The Long History of Participatory Culture
T 4.10 Web Authoring Tutorial Part 2. MEETS IN LIBRARY MULTIMEDIA LAB (MML), FIRST FLOOR. Homework: Read Standage chs 1, 8, and 12 and pages 1-11 of Henry Jenkins et al, Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture.

TH 4.12 DISCUSSION: Standage & Jenkins.

ACTIVITY Present revised hypertexts.  Brief discussion of intellectual property issues: a) creative commonscopyleft or other choices regarding your own work and b) the use of an image credit and link to the source page for borrowed noncopyrighted images on all of your pages using such material for educational and noncommercial purposes.  

Homework: Complete the publishing and revision of your personal hypertext projects. You should count on doing this during the scheduled lab-assistance hours until you become comfortable with Kompozer.

Week 3 Selfhood, Modernity, and Technology
T 4.17 Presentation of personal hypertexts.
Th 4.19 Discuss Powers 7, 8, and 11.

Week 4 Pajamas Media Convergence
T 4.24 Discuss chs 4 and 5 in Henry Jenkins' Convergence Culture plus these short takes on vidding, 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. View in class: (remix) Star Trek Meets Monty Python and (remix) One Week: Literal Video, and Abigail de Kosnik, Fan Labor as Paid Labor? Also: Stephen Colbert's' Remix Challenge with remixes by Eclectic Method, Ludachrist, Mastgrrr, Alexxx and EmJ's This is Artistic Socialism.

Th 4.26 Discuss Leah Lievrouw ch 7, "Challenging the Experts" and the film Julie & Julia. You can rent this film, get it on demand or rent it online at services like Roxio and Amazon. Pay special attention to the parallels drawn between the blogger as author and Julia Child as cookbook author. The film shows two projects becoming books--are the books the goals of the processes that gave rise to them?

A blog about interacting with a book becomes a book about blogging and then a movie about the relationship between blogging, books, and book authors. What counts as "writing" to the various figures in the film? What counts as originality and creativity? What is the relationship of writing creatively to other activities (such as cooking)? How does the film show media converging? What opportunities, conflicts and crises of identity, legitimacy, and power arise from that convergence? Does the film support traditional notions of expertise in some fields while challenging it in others?

Week 5 Remixing vs. Crowdsourcing
T 5.1 Discuss Be Kind, Rewind and the Organization for Transformative Works, Fanlore, Remix America, and Fan Fiction index. (As you watch the film, pay particular attention to the practice of "sweding"--the recreation/re-shooting of existing films in an obviously amateurish way. What is gained by amateur re-creation of highly professionalized and industrialized art forms like Hollywood film?

Th 5.3 Shirky 1-3 Compare Shirky to Lievrouw & Jenkins; how are the ideas of remixing and "commons knowledge" different from the notion of "crowdsourcing"?

Week 6 Ownership, Piracy, Parody, Authorship
T 5.8 The idea of a creative commons. John Perry Barlow, Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace (one page) Lev Manovich's Models of Authorship in New Media (brief) and chapters 1 Creators and 4 Pirates in Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture (also very short).

View in class: 1-page interview with Jonathan Coulton, as well as his letter for Creative Commons, website, and both of these animations of his song Code Monkey, as well as this fan tribute video.

Th 5.10 Contagious Rebellion, Tactical Media & Culture Jamming: Leah Lievrouw chs 1 & 2.

Preparing for tactical media project: brainstorming, discuss working with human subjects (journalistic values vs institional research protocols, eg) and when it's smart to get a release form (education and journalism vs commercial purposes, eg). View in class: Public Option Annie, together with examples of network coverage and related websites, both satirical and sincere, exploring the relationship between play, culture, and serious purpose. Special focus: the YesMen.

Also: selections from Agit-Pop, Tactical Media Files, Critical Art Ensemble, The Contagious Festival, Political Remix Video, the Bitfilm Politicool Awards, and Indymedia US, YesMen, Adbusters, smartmeme, memefest, rebelart, Total Recut, Republicorp and Brave New Films.

Homework: Read one more chapter in Lievrouw, choosing one which relates to the genre of your planned tactical media project (ch3: culture jamming; ch 4 alternative computing; ch 5 participatory journalism; ch 6 mediated mobilization).

For Tuesday, prepare a tactical media project proposal.

For Thursday, publish a 1500-word response hypertext to your website, describing some of the tensions between media ownership and our hopes for a more democratic society. Required elements: Select at least one tactical media project from at least six of the sites above. Be sure to briefly quote or paraphrase from at least six of the course readings as well as the videos and stories you've chosen, providing hypertextual links and citations. Due in class Thursday (please note: this is a firm deadline).

Week 7-8 Tactical Media Projects
T 5.15 Proposal for tactical media (civic engagement) project due in class. The best inspiration for this is an actual social problem in which you feel personally implicated by way of your networked self. Still casting around for inspiration? Try articles like this one about observant machines or this documentary about student debt. Discussion of scriptwriting, scriptwriting tools and in-class scriptwriting workshop.

TH 5.17 Required in-class introduction to shooting and editing video. Led by Gloria Hofer. There may be required out-of-class follow-up. MEETS IN LIBRARY MEDIA LAB, FIRST FLOOR.

T 5.22M Workshop of scripts for tactical media project

TH 5.24 Individual conferences.

Week 9-10 Youth, Digital Publicity, Games & Change

T 5.29 Games, Change, Early Learning. Discussion: Shaffer, Intro, 1, 2, and 5. Also download and play the demo version of Crayon Physics. You can do this with a friend. (You'll enjoy it!) In class: play and discuss selections from lecielestblue, Persuasive Games, Molleindustria and Games For Change. Play and discuss toddler and literacy games at Starfall, poissonrouge, and jacksonpollock.org. Discussion of cognition (critical thinking) and hypertext composition.

TH 5.31 Discussion of Jane McGonigal, "Saving the Real World Together" (pdf), Daniel Terdiman's Games That Stick it to The Man and Ian Bogost's Persuasive Games: Designing For Tragedy. More on gaming at Games For Change, Penn State, Games, Learning, and Society, and SIGGRAPH

T 6.5 danah boyd, Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenaged Social Life and White Flight in Networked Publics: How Race & Class Shaped American Teen Engagement with MySpace and Facebook. Plus: Henry Jenkins, Nine Propositions Toward A Cultural Theory of Youtube

TH 6.7 Presentation of tactical media projects. Discussion of learning essays.

2. Finish reading Little Brother and complete an analytical hypertext of 1800 words, using two or three themes of the course as a lens for critically reading the book. You should have a bibliography of at least 6 items from the course reading. Include a printable version and remember to make use of the printable version to revise the hypertext. Due Tuesday March 22 by 5pm.

Checklist for reflective hypertext
>bibliography of items from course reading
>i1800 words of original writing (equiv. 5 linear pp), providing a thoughtful reflection on your learning
>include a printable version
>revise
>have you linked to your previous projects?
>published by 5 pm June 14
>email the link of your main page to me (very important)
>congratulations!

FURTHER READING: Manuel Castells, The Network Society: From Knowledge to Policy and Information Technology, Globalization and Social Development (pdf); Jeffrey Juris,Social Forums and their Margins and Networked Social Movements; Rosalind Gill, Technobohemians or the New Cybertariat? The Internet as Factory with great conference videos, featuring Tiziana Terranova, Andrew Ross, Jodi Dean, and many others)

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

Some rights reserved. Contact pmbousquet (at) gmail with questions regarding intellectual commons