This is what you should read to prepare for this week's lecture (Fri Nov 26) and the seminar 5 assignment (Mo-Tue Nov 29-30 - deadline Sun Nov 28). The assignment will be published soon, but I am away at a mini-conference at the moment so it will be slightly delayed.
As we all know by now, there is very little critique or thought about the possible negative impact of Internet/social media in Benkler's book, so this week's (relatively short) chapter in Benkler's book has been supplemented by various other texts. The readings can be divided into four parts:
1) What is the impact of the Internet/social media on our relationships with other people and on our (mental) health? Is the Internet a "sad, lonely world" or a "platform for human connections" - or both?
- Benkler (2006). "Social ties: Networkning together" (chapter 10) - 22 pages.
- Harmon (1998). "Researchers find sad, lonely world in cyberspace" (New York Times) - 4 pages.
2) What is the impact of Internet/social media on our thinking? Is Google "making us stupid"? Are we well-informed but also less able to think deep, complex thoughts?
- Postman (1990)."Informing ourselves to death" (transcribed speech given at a computer conference) - 8 pages.
- Carr (2008). "Is Google making us stupid?" Atlantic monthly - 7 pages.
- Carr (2010).
XXX. Please check back later for this (optional) chapter from Carr's book "The Shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains"! [Comment: Deleted as you have enough to read anyway]
3) What is the impact of Internet/social media on our social behavior? Will people become more inhibited if commercial/governmental surveillance and data mining increases? Will participation and making your voice heard (i.e. democracy) increase or decrease?
- Lundblad (2004). "Privacy in a noise society" (pdf file). Presented at the workshop "WHOLES: A multiple view of individual privacy in a networked world") 4 (dense) pages.
[This topic has been developed in Lundblad's Ph.D. thesis, "Law in a noise society"].
- Morozov (2010). "Iran: Downside to the 'Twitter revolution" (available in Bilda/Documents/Papers). Published in Dissent, Vol.56, No.4 (fall 2009), pp.9-14 - 4 pages
4) And, perhaps most provocative of all questions, is the Internet/social media sustainable in the long run? Will we face global climate change, energy and resource depletion issues during the 21st century that will force us to radically rethink our habits and our use of technology? These short texts point out some radically different possibilities for the future of the Internet/social media.
- Bardi (2009). "The spike and the peak" (pdf file). Posted to online discussion forum "The Oil Drum" - 4 pages.
- Pargman (2010). "Ubiquitous information in a world of limitations" [available in Bilda/Documents/Papers]. Presented at a workshop on "The culture of ubiquitous information" only last month - comments welcome! This text is also the basis for a proposed master's thesis topic, "ICT use in the post-modern city" - 16 pages.
- Greer (2009). "The end of the information age" (printer-friendly version). Posted to Energy Bulletin - 3 pages
- Greer (2009). "The economics of decline" (printer-friendly version). Posted to Energy Bulletin - 3 pages
[the texts by Greer are presumably part of his 2008 book "The long descent: A user's guide to the end of the industrial age"]
Greer makes a passing remark to the short 1909 story "The machine stops" by E.M. Forster (more well-know for "A room with a view" and "Howard's end"). This short story tells the tale of a point in the future where humanity has become totally dependent on our information and communication technologies (Artificial intelligence, Internet/video conferencing). You might consider reading a little fiction in you get tired of all the fact-filled short texts above.
Parts 1 (26 pages) + 2 (15 pages) + 3 (8 pages) + 4 (26 pages) = 75 pages. Will be complemented by an optional chapter from Carr's book (see above) that will be made available in Bilda.
This coming Friday we have both a lecture ("Critique", 8-10) and a guest lecture (13-15).