New Media and Everyday Life

Instructor: Nabeel Siddiqui
Class Time: 3:30-4:50 Mondays and Wednesdays
Office Location: College Apartments 7F
Office Hours : 4:50-5:50 Mondays and Wednesdays
Email: nasiddiqui@email.wm.edu

Course Description

As Ben Highmore argues, "Everyday life is not simply the name that is given to a reality readily available for scrutiny; it is also the name for aspects of life that lie hidden." Highmore's argument gets to the heart of what this class is about. Rather than simply taking daily life as a given, we will investigate it for its potential affordances in the face of power. Specifically, we will concentrate on the effect of "new" media in our lives. As more and more people become tied to smartphones, addicted to the Internet, and interact predominantly online, everyday life becomes entwined with computational technologies. What are the implications of our reliance on these technologies? Do they point us to a new egalitarian future or do they merely exacerbate existing inequalities? In this course, we will explore these questions and more by looking at what sociologists, critical theorists, and new media scholars have said about everyday life. In addition, students will have a chance to explore these questions through various hands-on exercises.

Electronics Policy

I have no problems with students using laptops, tablets, etc. to take notes and look at readings in class. In fact, they will be required for some meetings. Cell phones should be on silent. If you receive a call that you absolutely have to answer, please step out of the classroom to do so. While I will not police students for their electronics use, students that constantly check social media, the news, or email inevitably talk less and lower their participation grade. They also tend to have less engagement with the course and a lower comprehension of the material, which becomes reflected in their book reviews and final papers.

Submissions

Assignments should be emailed to me. I will use the time stamp on your email to judge if you have turned it in on time. Late papers will lose a letter grade for every day they are late, and after 4 days you will receive an F. I do not need a paper copy of your assignments to mark up. Instead, please send them as a Word, Google Doc, or Open/Libre Office document. If you do not have access to these, you may send the papers to me as a PDF. Only send me a paper copy as a last resort.

Plagiarism

Plagiarism is not only theft but also counterfeit. Students caught plagiarizing will receive an F for the assignment and may face further disciplinary action. It is up to students to familiarize themselves with the William and Mary Honor Code. Students should use proper citations to indicate quotes, summations, and paraphrases. You may use any citation style as long as it is consistent. If you have any concerns or confusion, please meet with or ask me.

Disabilities

If there is any accommodation that you need because of a disability, please see me after class or during office hours. To request accommodations, such as a note-taker, contact the Assistant Dean for Disability Services. For more information, see http://www.wm.edu/deanofstudents/disable/

Learning Outcomes

Learning is a collaborative process, and I expect to learn as much from my students as I teach them. In order for this to happen, students need to be prepared for class and have a desire to learn. I will do everything I can to facilitate this. At the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Grasp the power dynamics inherent in everyday life along with their implications for how we interact with new media
  • Inspect assumptions about new media as an egalitarian force, especially as they relate to identity
  • Examine and criticize the affordance of new media forms as creative platforms Unravel and interpret the dynamic and interactive properties of new media texts and contrast them with old media
  • Understand how issues such as surveillance, big data, and privacy affect embodied interactions in daily life
  • Investigate how new media alters our perception of space and place
  • Grasp the materiality of digital media
  • Inspect the dynamics of global capitalism and labor in the new media landscape

Required Purchases

Postman, Neil, and Andrew Postman. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. New York, N.Y., U.S.A: Penguin Books, 2005.

Altice, Nathan. I Am Error: The Nintendo Family Computer / Entertainment System Platform. 1st Edition. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2015.

boyd, danah. It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. Yale University Press, 2015.

Weekly Readings

Week 1: Introduction to Everyday Life

  • Monday-Introductions, Course Requirements, and Syllabus
  • Wednesday-Felski, Rita. “The Invention of Everyday Life.” Williams, Raymond. “Culture Is Ordinary (1958).”

Week 2: The “Passiveness” of the Old Media?

  • Monday-Adorno, Theodor W., and Anson G. Rabinbach. “Culture Industry Reconsidered.” Jenkins, Henry. “Eight Traits of the New Media Landscape.”
  • Wednesday-Postman, Neil. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, Penguin, 2005. Read Chapters 1 and 2; McLuhan, Marshall. “The Medium Is the Message.”

Week 3: The Failure of Mass Communication?

  • Monday-Postman, Neil. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. Penguin, 2005. Read all of Part 2; Submit three tentative books you hope to review by email in order of preference.
  • Wednesday-Bucher, Taina. “About a Bot: Hoax, Fake, Performance Art.”; Sample, Mark. “A Protest Bot Is a Bot so Specific You Can’t Mistake It for Bullshit: A Call for Bots of Conviction.”

Week 4: Aesthetics of New Media

  • Monday-Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. Reprint edition. Cambridge, Mass.: The
    MIT Press, 2002. Read Prologue, Introduction, and Chapter 1 (What is New Media?).
  • Wednesday-Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. Reprint edition. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 2002. Chapter 2 (The Interface); Moran, Thomas P., and Shumin Zhai. “Beyond the Desktop Metaphor in Seven Dimensions.” Beyond the Desktop Metaphor—Designing Integrated Digital Work Environments, 2007.

Week 5: Online Identity

  • Monday-Haraway, Donna. “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late 20th Century.”
    Wedneday-McPherson, Tara. “I’ll Take My Stand in Dixie-Net: White Guys, the South, and Cyberspace.”
  • Wedneday-“The Front and Back Regions of Everyday Life.” In Goffman, Erving. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Harmondsworth, 1978; Kolko, Beth. “Erasing @race: Going White in the (Inter)Face"; Alter, Alexandra. “Is This Man Cheating on His Wife​.” Wall Street Journal 10 (2007). [Class Will Meet Online]

Week 6: Space

  • Monday-Harvey, David. “Space as a Keyword.” 2012; Farman, Jason. “Mapping the Digital Empire: Google Earth and the Process of Postmodern Cartography.”
  • Wednesday-Book Reviews Due before Midnight; In-Class Book Review Presentations

Week 6: Space

*Monday-Harvey, David. “Space as a Keyword.” 2012; Farman, Jason. “Mapping the Digital Empire: Google Earth and the Process of Postmodern Cartography.” New Media & Society, 2010.

  • Wednesday-Book Reviews Due before Midnight; In-Class Book Review Presentations

Week 7: Ready, Player One?

  • Monday-Fall Break
  • Wednesday-Altice, Nathan. I Am Error: The Nintendo Family Computer / Entertainment System Platform. 1st Edition edition. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2015. p.1-33; p. 53-69

Week 8: Game Over?

  • Monday-Altice, Nathan. I Am Error: The Nintendo Family Computer / Entertainment System Platform. 1st Edition. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2015. p.81-98; p.110-118; p.289-305; p.314-324
  • Wednesday-TBD

Week 9: Sound in Everyday Life

  • Monday-Sterne, Jonathan. “The Mp3 as Cultural Artifact.”; Bull, Michael. “To Each Their Own Bubble: Mobile Spaces of Sound in the City.”
  • Wednesday-Molnár, Virág. “Reframing Public Space through Digital Mobilization: Flash Mobs and the Futility of Contemporary Urban Youth Culture.”. Douglas, Susan J. “Zen of Listening.”

Week 10: Open Source and Free Software

  • Monday-Moore, J. T. S. Revolution OS. Wonderview Productions, 2012. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jw8K460vx1c.; Chopra, Samir, and Scott D. Dexter. Decoding Liberation: The Promise of Free and Open Source Software. Routledge, 2008. Introduction and Chapter 2
  • Wednesday-Chopra, Samir, and Scott D. Dexter. Decoding Liberation: The Promise of Free and
    Open Source Software
    . Routledge, 2008. Chapter 3 and 5

Week 11: Privacy and Surveillance

  • Monday-Jurgenson, N., and P. J. Rey. “The Fan Dance: How Privacy Thrives in an Age of Hyper-Publicity.”; Zimmer, Michael. “‘But the Data Is Already Public’: On the Ethics of Research in Facebook.”
  • Wednesday-Sparrow, Robert. “‘Just Say No’ to Drones.”; Salter, Michael. “Toys for the Boys? Drones, Pleasure and Popular Culture in the Militarization of Policing.”

Week 12: Youth and New Media

  • Monday-boyd, danah. It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. Yale University
    Press, 2015. Introduction to Chapter 3
  • Wednesday-boyd, danah. It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. Yale University
    Press, 2015. Chapters 5 to 8

Week 13: Labor and Capitalism

  • Monday-Wark, McKenzie. “A Hacker Manifesto[Version 4.0],”; Aytes, Ayhan. “Return of the Crowds: Mechanical Turk and Neoliberal States of Exception.”
  • Wednesday-Thanksgiving Break

Week 14: Final Projects

  • Monday-Final Project Presentations 1
  • Wednesday-Final Project Presentations 2

Final Paper Due During Exam Time