Communication / Information Science 3200 -- New Media and Society


Prof. Tarleton Gillespie
Spring 2010

Tues+Thurs 11:40am - 12:55pm
Morrison 146

readings online via Blackboard

office hours: Wed. 10-12, 315 Kennedy

Josh Braun:
Dima Epstein:
Tony Liao:

We are all immersed in a complex and pervasive media culture, which makes it particularly difficult for us to recognize the complex relationship between media and society: how what we see, hear and read is in some ways the product of our society and its particular political, economic, and cultural shape, and how it also shapes our understanding of ourselves, our community, and our world. And at the moment, our media culture is undergoing a series of transformations - as new forms of entertainment, new venues for political debate, and new models of journalism emerge online, and as the established producers of media struggle to adapt to the challenge.

This course will interrogate how the cultural landscape has changed in relation to media and information technologies, how broadcast media and traditional publishing are converging with networked computing, and what implications these changes may have for society, politics, and culture. It will focus on cases drawn from new, information-based media - online news, blogs, Wikipedia, YouTube, search engines, social networking applications , etc - but will examine them so as to understand the underlying relationship between media and society.



* the most important assignment is to complete all of the reading assigned, for the day it is assigned; comprehension of the arguments is crucial to your success in this course.

* you also must regularly read the course blog: posts from me and from your colleagues will be showing up there throughout the semester. Develop a habit of looking at it daily to see what's new.

* attendance is also required; attendance will be taken at my discretion. Attendance counts towards your overall grade. (10%)

* throughout the course, you will be contributing to your own personal blog, commenting on the readings and/or responding to prompts and challenges that I post to the course blog. You're required to post at least one substantive post every week. The undergrad TAs will be reading your posts Wednesday evenings and indicating to me some of the trends in the discussion, some of the best posts, and useful questions, which will emerge in the Thursday lecture. (30%)

* in addition, every week you should read and rate at least five of your colleagues posts on their own blogs. Doing so will help to 'graduate' the best posts onto the course blog.

* two "response papers" are due during the semester. For each I will state a "position" on some aspect of new media and its social implications; you will need to draw on the course readings to respond to, defend, or critique that position. (20% for the higher of the two grades, 10% for the lower.)


* a final paper, will ask you to expand upon one of the issues dealt with in the course. Details will follow. (30%)



There are no books for this course; All of the readings are available online. If there is no URL listed, you can find the article in the course space on Blackboard.

From the Cornell "Code of Academic Integrity":

"Absolute integrity is expected of every Cornell student in all academic undertakings. Integrity entails a firm adherence to a set of values, and the values most essential to an academic community are grounded on the concept of honesty with respect to the intellectual efforts of oneself and others. Academic integrity is expected not only in formal coursework situations, but in all University relationships and interactions connected to the educational process, including the use of University resources. While both students and faculty of Cornell assume the responsibility of maintaining and furthering these values, this document is concerned specifically with the conduct of students.

A Cornell student's submission of work for academic credit indicates that the work is the student's own. All outside assistance should be acknowledged, and the student's academic position truthfully reported at all times. In addition, Cornell students have a right to expect academic integrity from each of their peers."

The full text of the Code of Academic Integrity can be found online.


= introduction =
JAN 24 ~~ introduction


JAN 26 ~~ 'new media'?

Steven Chaffee and Miriam Metzger, "The End of Mass Communication?" (2001)

FEB 2 ~~ studying public discourse [and demo of the blogs]

Zizi Papacharissi, "The Virtual Sphere 2.0: The Internet, the Public Sphere, and Beyond" from The Routledge Handbook of Internet Politics (2008)

FEB 4 ~~ the domains of social impact

= the production, distribution, and consumption of new media =
FEB 9 ~~ new media industries

David Hesmondhalgh, "New Media, Digitalisation, and Convergence" (2002)
"And Then There Were Eight," Mother Jones (2007)

FEB 11 ~~ case: Google

Google, "Mission Statement"

FEB16 ~~ users as producers, amateurs, and peers

Axel Bruns, "The Key Characteristics of Produsage," from Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond: From Production to Produsage (2008)
Søren Mørk Petersen, "Loser Generated Content: From Participation to Exploitation" (2008)

FEB 18 ~~ case: YouTube

Henry Jenkins, "Nine Propositions Towards a Cultural Theory of YouTube" (May 28, 2007)

FEB 23 ~~ social networks
guest lecture: Lee Humphreys

danah boyd and Nicole Ellison, "Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship" (2007)

FEB 25 ~~ case: Twitter
guest lecture: Lee Humphreys

MAR 2 ~~ changes in the business of distribution

Joseph Turow, "Audience Construction and Culture Production: Marketing Surveillance in the Digital Age" (2005)

MAR 4 ~~ case: free stuff

Chris Anderson, "Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business" Wired (2008)

MAR 9 ~~ global connections and disparities

Alexander Halavais, "National Borders on the World Wide Web" (2000)

MAR 11 ~~ case: "digital divide"
guest lecture: Dima Epstein

MAR 16 ~~ governance

Lawrence Lessig, "Four Puzzles from Cyberspace" and "What Things Regulate" from Code, and Other Laws of Cyberspace (1999)
Kenneth Cukier, "Who Will Control the Internet" Foreign Policy (2005)
"Seven Questions: Battling for Control of the Internet" (interview with Lawrence Lessig) Foreign Policy (2005)

MAR 18 ~~ case: Net neutrality
paper 1 due

Tim Wu and Christopher Yoo, "Keeping the Internet Neutral?" Legal Affairs (2006)

spring break

= the social impacts of new media =
MAR 30 ~~ politics and new media

Knight Foundation, "Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age" pages xi-63 only (2009)

APR 1 ~~ case: the Obama campaign

David Talbot, "How Obama Really Did It" (2008)

APR 6 ~~ free speech and new media

Jack Balkin, "The Future of Free Expression in a Digital Age" (2009)

APR 8 ~~ case: platform norms

APR 13 ~~ case: traditional news goes online
guest lecture: Josh Braun
Natalie Fenton, "News in the Digital Age" (2009)

APR 15 ~~ journalism and new media

Project for Excellence in Journalism, parts of "The State of the News Media, 2009"
           Overview: Intro, 2. Major Trends, and 3. Key Findings
           Online: 1. Introduction, 2. Content Analysis, 3. Audience, and 4. Economics

APR 20 ~~ shared culture, fragmentation, collaboration, and expertise

Terry Teachout, "Culture in the Age of Blogging," (2005)
Michael Bérubé, "Culture and Society" (2005)
YouTube, "What You Watched and Searched for on YouTube in 2009"

APR 22 ~~ case: Wikipedia
paper 1 due  

APR 27 ~~ public spaces and new media

Stephen Graham, "From Dreams of Transcendence to the Remediation of Urban Life" from The Cybercities Reader (2004)
Dan Hill, "The Street as Platform" (2008)

APR 29 ~~ case: augmented reality apps

guest lecture: Tony Liao

Layar demo

MAY 4 ~~ privacy and new media

Michael Zimmer, "The Externalities of Search 2.0: The Emerging Privacy Threats when the Drive for the Perfect Search Engine meets Web 2.0" (2008)

= conclusion =
MAY 1 ~~ conclusion


final paper due during exam week