Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Syllabus for my Digital Democracy, Digital Anti-Democracy Course (Starting Tomorrow)

Digital Democracy, Digital Anti-Democracy (CS-301G-01)

Spring 2015 01/23/2015-05/08/2015 Lecture Friday 09:00AM - 11:45AM, Main Campus Building, Room MCR

Instructor: Dale Carrico; Contact:,

Grade Roughly Based On: Att/Part 15%, Reading Notebook 25%, Reading 10%, In-Class Report 10%, Final Keywords Map 40%

Course Description:

This course will try to make sense of the impacts of technological change on public life. We will focus our attention on the ongoing transformation of the public sphere from mass-mediated into peer-to-peer networked. Cyberspace isn't a spirit realm. It belches coal smoke. It is accessed on landfill-destined toxic devices made by wretched wage slaves. It has abetted financial fraud and theft around the world. All too often, its purported "openness" and "freedom" have turned out to be personalized marketing harassment, panoptic surveillance, zero comments, and heat signatures for drone targeting software. We will study the history of modern media formations and transformations, considering the role of media critique from the perspective of several different social struggles in the last era of broadcast media, before fixing our attention on the claims being made by media theorists, digital humanities scholars, and activists in our own technoscientific moment.

Provisional Schedule of Meetings

Week One, January 23: What Are We Talking About When We Talk About "Technology" and "Democracy"?

Week Two, January 30: Digital,

Laurie Anderson: The Language of the Future
Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology 
Evgeny Morozov, The Perils of Perfectionism
Paul D. Miller (DJ Spooky), Material Memories 

Week Three, February 6: The Architecture of Cyberspatial Politics

Lawrence Lessig, The Future of Ideas, Chapter Three: Commons on the Wires
Yochai Benkler, Wealth of Networks, Chapter 12: Conclusion
Michel Bauwens, The Political Economy of Peer Production
Saskia Sassen, Interactions of the Technical and the Social: Digital Formations of the Powerful and the Powerless 
My own, p2p Is Either Pay-to-Peer or Peers-to-Precarity 
Jessica Goodman The Digital Divide Is Still Leaving Americans Behind 
American Civil Liberties Union, What Is Net Neutrality
Dan Bobkoff, Is Net Neutrality the Real Issue?

Week Four, February 13: Published Public

Dan Gillmour, We the Media, Chapter One: From Tom Paine to Blogs and Beyond
Digby (Heather Parton) The Netroots Revolution
Clay Shirky, Blogs and the Mass Amateurization of Publishing
Aaron Bady, Julian Assange and the Conspiracy to "Destroy the Invisible Government"
Geert Lovink Blogging: The Nihilist Impulse

Week Five, February 20: Immaterialism

John Perry Barlow, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace
Katherine Hayles, Liberal Subjectivity Imperiled: Norbert Weiner and Cybernetic Anxiety
Paulina Borsook, Cyberselfish
David Golumbia, Cyberlibertarians' Digital Deletion of the Left
Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron, California Ideology
Eric Hughes, A Cypherpunk's Manifesto
Tim May, The Cryptoanarchist Manifest

Week Six, February 27: The Architecture of Cyberspatial Politics: Loose Data

Lawrence Lessig, Prefaces to the first and second editions of Code
Evgeny Morozov, Connecting the Dots, Missing the Story
Lawrence Joseph Interviews Frank Pasquale about The Black Box Society
My Own, The Inevitable Cruelty of Algorithmic Mediation
Frank Pasquale, Social Science in an Era of Corporate Big Data
danah boyd and Kate Crawford, Critical Questions for Big Data Bruce Sterling, Maneki Neko

Week Seven, March 6: Techno Priesthood

Evgeny Morozov, The Meme Hustler
Jedediah Purdy, God of the Digirati
Jaron Lanier, First Church of Robotics
Jalees Rehman, Is Internet-Centrism A Religion?
Mike Bulajewski, The Cult of Sharing
George Sciaballa Review of David Noble's The Religon of Technology

Week Eight, March 13: Total Digital

Jaron Lanier, One Half of a Manifesto
Vernor Vinge, Technological Singularity
Nathan Pensky, Ray Kurzweil Is Wrong: The Singularity Is Not Near
Aaron Labaree, Our Science Fiction Future: Meet the Scientists Trying to Predict the End of the World
My Own, Very Serious Robocalyptics
Marc Steigler, The Gentle Seduction

Week Nine, March 16-20: Spring Break

Week Ten, March 27: Meet Your Robot God
Screening the film, "Colossus: The Forbin Project"

Week Eleven, April 3: Publicizing Private Goods

Cory Doctorow You Can't Own Knowledge
James Boyle, The Second Enclosure Movement and the Construction of the Public Domain
David Bollier, Reclaiming the Commons
Astra Taylor, Six Questions on the People's Platform

Week Twelve, April 10: Privatizing Public Goods

Nicholas Carr, Sharecropping the Long Tail
Nicholas Carr, The Economics of Digital Sharecropping
Clay Shirky, Why Small Payments Won't Save Publishing
Scott Timberg: It's Not Just David Byrne and Radiohead: Spotify, Pandora, and How Streaming Music Kills Jazz and Classical 
Scott Timberg Interviews Dave Lowery, Here's How Pandora Is Destroying Musicians
Hamilton Nolan, Microlending Isn't All It's Cracked Up To Be

Week Thirteen, April 17: Securing Insecurity

Charles Mann, Homeland Insecurity
David Brin, Three Cheers for the Surveillance Society!
Lawrence Lessig, Insanely Destructive Devices
Glenn Greenwald, Ewan MacAskill, and Laura Poitras, Edward Snowden: The Whistleblower Behind the NSA Surveillance Revelations
Daniel Ellsberg, Edward Snowden: Saving Us from the United Stasi of America

Week Fourteen, April 24: "Hashtag Activism" I

Evgeny Morozov Texting Toward Utopia 
Hillary Crosly Croker, 2013 Was the Year of Black Twitter
Michael Arceneux, Black Twitter's 2013 All Stars
Annalee Newitz, What Happens When Scientists Study Black Twitter
Alicia Garza, A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement
Shaquille Bewster, After Ferguson: Is "Hashtag Activism" Spurring Policy Changes?
Jamilah King, When It Comes to Sports Protests, Are T-Shirts Enough?

Week Fifteen, May 1: "Hashtag Activism" II

Paulina Borsook, The Memoirs of a Token: An Aging Berkeley Feminist Examines Wired
Zeynap Tukekci, No, Nate, Brogrammers May Not Be Macho, But That's Not All There Is To It; How French High Theory and Dr. Seuss Can Help Explain Silicon Valley's Gender Blindspots
Sasha Weiss, The Power of #YesAllWomen
Lisa Nakamura, Queer Female of Color: The Highest Difficulty Setting There Is? Gaming Rhetoric as Gender Capital 
Yoonj Kim, #NotYourAsianSidekick Is A Civil Rights Movement for Asian American Women
Jay Hathaway, What Is Gamergate

Week Sixteen, May 8: Digital Humanities, Participatory Aesthetics, and Design Culture

Claire Bishop, The Social Turn and Its Discontents
Adam Kirsch, Technology Is Taking Over English Departments: The False Promise of the Digital Humanities
David Golumbia, Digital Humanities: Two Definitions
Tara McPherson, Why Are Digital Humanities So White?
Roopika Risam, The Race for DigitalityWendy Hui Kyong Chun, The Dark Side of the Digital Humanities
Bruce Sterling, The Spime
Hal Foster, Design and Crime

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