Monday, November 21, 2011

Readings for lecture 5 - Critique

As we all know, there is very little critique or thought about possible negative impacts 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 heterogeneous texts. Lecture 5 (Nov 23) will cover, and for seminar 5 (Nov 28-30), 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 "platform for human connections" or a "sad, lonely world" (or both)?

- Benkler, Chapter 10, "Social ties: Networking together". - 22 pages
- Turkle (2011), "Always on" (available in Bilda/Documents/Papers). Chapter 8 from "Alone Together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other". - 20 pages

Comment: Turkle is a well-know social psychologist who has written about computer culture and its cultural effects during the last 25 years in books such as "The second self" and "Life on the screen".

2) 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 a workshop on "privacy in a networked world" - 4 (dense) pages.
- 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
(- Also warmly recommended, eminently readable but optional; Gladwell, "Small change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted". The New Yorker Oct. 4. 2010)

Comment: Lundblad is now director of Public Policy at Google. The topic of his short paper above was extended and developed in Lundblad's Ph.D. thesis "Law in a noise society". Morozov is a well-known critic of hyped-up social networking tools in the context of (Arabian and other) revolutions and democracy movements, and his argument was extended in his 2011 book "The net delusion: The dark side of Internet freedom". Gladwell is a well-known journalist and author of books such as "The tipping point", "Blink" and "Outliers".

3) What is the impact of Internet/social media on our thinking? Is Google "making us stupid"? Are we more well-informed than ever, but 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.

Comment: Postman's paper later became a chapter his book "Technopoly: The surrender of culture to technology". Carr's text later became part of his 2010 book "The Shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains"

4) Perhaps most provocative of all questions; is the Internet/social media sustainable in the long run? Will we face challenges during the 21st century (climate change, energy and resource depletion issues) 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 cheap electricity and for 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 2010 workshop on "The culture of ubiquitous information". - 16 pages.
- Greer (2009). "The end of the information age" and "The economics of decline" (printer-friendly version). Published at Energy Bulletin - 3 pages each.

Comments: My text above is also the basis for a proposed master's thesis topic, "ICT use in the post-modern city". Greer's texts draws on 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 the author E.M. Forster (more well-know for "A room with a view" and "Howard's end"). You might consider reading a little fiction in you get tired of all the fact-filled texts above...

Part 1 (22 + 20) + part 2 (8 pages) + part 3 (15 pages) + part 4 (26 pages) = 90 pages.

No comments:

Post a Comment