Utopia or Dystopia

Winter Term
New Media
and the
Future of Culture

Dr. Nim Batchelor
Prof. John Duvall
Office: Carlton 313
Office: Model 211-C
Home phone number: 229-7494
Home phone number: 585-0967
Office phone number: 584-2273
Office phone number: 538-6826
Office Hours: Daily 10:00 AM-- Noon
(or by appointment)

Office Hours: Daily 10:00 AM - Noon
(or by appointment)

    Composing Cyberspace: Identity, Community and Knowledge by Richard Holeton
    Assorted readings from the Internet and Library Reserve
    Guest professors


This course will explore the possible effects of new digital communications technologies and the Internet on the future evolution of human interaction. We will be examining both the microcosm and the macrocosm - the sphere of individual personal life as well as the wider world.
The ultimate goal will be to survey and synthesize a number of different perspectives on the impact of digital communications on our behaviors and beliefs (personal, social, economic, and political) and to develop our own individual viewpoints.
The class will draw on the writings of media observers such as Marshall McLuhan, Alvin Toffler, Neil Postman and Joshua Meyrowitz. We will also hear from Elon faculty members from various departments of the college community (including Business, Communications, Philosophy, Political Science, and Computer Science, among others).
Examples of possible topics include:


Grades for this course will be assigned on the basis of the following distribution:
Daily Response Papers 50%
Media Use Log 5%
Cyber Experience Project 10%
Group Presentation 25%
Participation 10%

This is a short class and we will be doing a great deal of work in class. We will be hearing speakers, participating in role-play exercises, planning projects and out of class work. Thus it will be vitally important for everyone to attend every class. We will permit you one absence without penalty. Every subsequent absence will cost you three points off of your final grade. There is no lower limit to the application of this policy. Thus, for example, if you have an 84 overall average and you have missed 4 days of class, your final total will be a 72 and you will receive the grade of C-. We reserve the right to exercise our best judgment on the application of this policy.
Students will be asked to write short response papers for each daily assignment. These responses can be submitted to your professor as an attachment to an e-mail message or you can hand in a hard copy as you enter class.
Most people are unaware of just how much they use media. We think that it is important for people to have an awarness of the various types of media that innundate our culture and the degree to which we use those media. Thus, we want each student to keep a daily journal that records their use of the following media: This journal should be kept from Jan. 5th through Jan. 8th (midnight). In addition to the daily logs, please write a one-page reflective essay that comments on what you learned about your media use by doing this assignment. This assignment will be due as you enter class Jan. 10th. For more details on this assignment, please follow this link.
This is an assignment for each individual in the class. The aim of this project is to gain a visceral appreciation for the differences between human relationships in cyberspace and real space. This paper will be due on Jan. 18th as you enter class. Full details of this assignment can be found at this link: Cyber Experience Project Assignment
Our presumption is that you signed up for this course because you had a genuine interest in this topic. (Even if this is not the case, we ask that you think about the theme of this course long enough to discover a focal point for your authentic curiosity regarding this topic). This end of term project is your opportunity to explore a topic in greater depth and detail. You will have the opportunity to select a topic, research it, and then present your results to the class. We have a set of suggested topics, but you should feel free to develop topics of your own. Some of you will surely want to explore a topics that we have chosen to deal with in class. This will be OK, but we expect those projects to go significantly deeper than what we do in class. This is a group project and we want to have groups assigned no later than Fri. Jan. 7th. Each group should consist of three members. Obviously, group members should share an interest in a specific topic and the group should be formed on that basis. We will provide more detailed specifications for this assignment at a later date. For additional information, see this web page.

Tues. Jan. 4th
     Introductory discussion
     Predicting the Future and the Limits of Prediction

Tuesday Jan. 4th -- evening
     Dr. Thomas Reardon (President of the AMA)

Wed. Jan. 5th -- Virtual Community
     Sherry Turkle "Identity in the Age of the Internet: Living in the MUD" pp. 5-11
     Howard Rheingold "The Heart of the WELL" pp.151-163

Thur. Jan. 6th -- Relationship and values
     Ellen Ullman's article "Come In, CQ" pp.32-47
     Langdon Winner "Technology Today: Utopia or Dystopia?
     Chellis Glendinning "Notes Toward a Neo-Luddite Manifesto" (handed out in class)

Fri. Jan. 7th -- Gender
     Guest Speaker --Ann Cahill
     Choose teams for final projects
     Dale Spender "Gender-Bending" pp.69-74
     Julian Dibbell "A Rape in Cyberspace" pp. 83-98
     Laura Miller "Women and Children First: Gender and the Settling of the Electronic Frontier" pp. 99-106

Mon. Jan. 10th -- Self-Identity
     Guest Speaker--Gina Roberts
     Read: Platt "What's It Mean to Be Human, Anyway?" pp.12-20
     Read Boal "Body, Brain, and Communication: An Interview with George Lakoff" pp.21-31

Tues. Jan. 11th -- Media, Society and History
     John Perry Barlow "Is There a There in Cyberspace?" pp.164-170
     McLuhan Understanding Media- Handout
     Toffler The Third Wave - Handout

Wed. Jan. 12th -- Media Access: Democracy and Equality
     Lawrence K. Grossman "The Shape of the Electronic Republic" pp.203-213
     Jon Katz "The Netizen: Birth of a Digital Nation" pp. 214-225
     Pamela Varley "Electronic Democracy: What's Really Happening in Santa Monica" pp. 244-252
     Dale Spender "Social Policy for Cyberspace" pp.266-269
     "Digital Divide" (Time Magazine)

Wed. Jan. 12th --Evening Panel Discussion "What Will Life Be Like in 2100?"
     7:00 pm, McKinnon.

Thur. Jan. 13th -- International Democracy
     Guest Speaker--Laura Helvey
     Rory O'Connor "Africa: The Unwired Continent" pp.270-274
     John Rude "Birth of a Nation in Cyberspace" pp.275-284
     "Cyberpolitik: The Changing Nature of Power in the Information Age"(Online)

Fri. Jan. 14th -- Economy and the Workplace
     Guest Speaker--Barth Strempeck
     Guest Speaker--Huang Hwuan-Yuan
     Don Tapscott "Digital Economy" (Handout)

Mon. Jan. 17th -- Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday Holiday

Tues. Jan. 18th -- Information Overload
     Sven Birkerts "Into the Electronic Mellennium" pp. 311-322
     Shyamala Reddy "The Once and Future Book" pp. 323-327
     David Bank "The New Corporate Know-It-Alls: Chief Knowledge Officers" pp.364-368

Wed. Jan. 19th -- Information Ownership & Control, Questions of Privacy
     Ann Okerson "Who Owns Digital Works?" pp. 343-349
     O.H. Gandy, Jr. "Information and Power" (Handout)
     Anne Branscomb "Who Owns Information" (Handout)

Wed. Jan. 19th--THE MATRIX 9 PM Moseley Game Room

Thur. Jan. 20th -- Education and the Future of Computing
     Guest Speaker--Jim Murphy
     Claudia Wallis "The Learning Revolution" pp.391-395
     Clifford Stoll "Computers in the Classroom: What's Wrong with This Picture?" pp. 396-406
     Kelly Zito "The Digital Difference" pp.407-414
     Monty Neill "Computers, Thinking, and Schools in the 'New World Economic Order'" pp.415-426

Fri. Jan. 21st -- Entertainment
     Guest Speaker--Connie Book
     2000 Millennavision (Handout)
     Brenda Laurel "Virtual Reality: A New Opposable Thumb" pp.328-336
     Attitudes of Photographers and Readers toward Digital Manipulation of Feature Photos
     "CBS Skewered on Digital Insertion"

Mon. Jan. 24th -- Group Presentations

Tues. Jan 25th -- Group Presentations

Wed. Jan. 26th Grades due 3:00 pm