JOUR-J 410 Media as a Social Institution: “Cyberculture”

MW 2:30 – 3:45. Cloud computing. Cyborgs. Social Media. Memes and Mashups. This course explores the evolution of digital communications studies.

“The way in which she thinks about technology in relation to the self is partly inspired by the way in which our society has come to relate to technology.”
– Delia Dumitrica, author

“As a culture, we’re still in the process of negotiating how these new technologies should be integrated into our private and public lives.”
– Marc Lombardo, author

Instructor – Alec R. Hosterman, Senior Lecturer and Chair of Communication Studies
Phone – 574.520.4883
E-mail –
Office – Northside 033K
Office Hours – Tuesdays 11-1; Wednesdays 1-2

Course Day/Time – Mondays and Wednesdays, 2:30 – 3:45 pm
Course Location – Northside 106
Required Text – all readings are linked below

Class Google Doc page.  Class Twitter page.  Class News Magazine.

Link to specific course policies.

Read this: Writing a Paper for Dr. Hosterman

What is cyberculture and why study it? Cyberculture is the virtual communication space accessed and utilized by popular culture. It is the digital world in which we currently reside. Given this it would be a mistake not to study it. To this end, our class will explore the social, economic, cultural, and technical factors associated with cyberculture and internet studies. Students will critique the concepts and theories presented in the readings and will dabble in the development and creation of new media projects. Whew!

Upon completing the course, students will beable to understand and complete the following objectives:

  • Understand, and thereby explain, the concepts and theories associated with cyberculture studies;
  • Articulate the difference between interet studies, new media, and cyberculture;
  • Understand how digital media technologies may affect the political, cultural, and economic underpinnings of society;
  • Develop an informed, critical appreciation for cyberculture theory and tools;
  • Use blogging and micro-blogging technologies to share thoughts, interact with, and critique ideas of your fellow classmates;
  • Work with classmates to design, refine, and publish new media projects; and
  • Create individual projects to reflect your understanding of the principles discussed in class.


Here are the podcasts you created:

Throughout the semester, you will produce deliverables (assignments) that gauge your level of comprehension and application of the material in the course. These include:

  • Google Doc – An on-going collection of notes made possible by your contributions: accessed here. Worth 50 points.
  • Twitter – Tweet the world and follow your classmates: accessed here. Worth 50 points.
  • Vine – Creating, uploading, and reflecting on an original Vine creation. Worth 50 points.
  • Meme – Prosumers making social commentary via the meme. Worth 50 points.
  • Podcast – Voices and opinions abound in this group assignment. Worth 50 points.
  • Feature Article – Investigating and writing on an issue related to the course readings for the web 2.0 public: published here. Worth 200 points.
  • Pop Quizzes – Keep up with the readings and you’ll ace these surprise quizzes. Worth 100 points.
  • Exam – One exam to rule them all. Worth 250 points.
  • Attendance and Participation – It’s as easy as not falling asleep, being respectful of others, and contributing to the conversation. Worth 200 points.

More information about these assignments can be found here.

The following schedule is tentative.  I reserve the right to change it depending upon our pace through the course, however I will give advanced notice.

01.13  Introduction to the Class. Toyota Commercial.

01.15  How Luther Went Viral (The Economist); What is an Author? (Foucault)

01.20  Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – no class

01.22  As We May Think (V. Bush); The Galaxy Reconfigured and The Medium is the Message (McLuhan)

Save Icon

Zach King, Vine Magician

01.27  Snow Day – no class

01.29  What Else is New? How Uses, Not Innovations, Drive Human Technology (Shapin); Principles of New Media (Manovich)

History of the Internet

02.03  Immediacy, Hypermediacy, and Remediation (Bolter & Grusin)*

02.05  The Universal Without Totality (Levy) – class held online in OnCourse

02.10  The Screen and the User  (Manovich)  class held online in OnCourse

02.12  Making New Media Make Sense (Baym)Being Digital (Negroponte)

02.17  Digital Nation documentary

02.19  discuss Digital Nation; We Aren’t All Cyborgs…Yet (Gage); Siri: The Perfect Robot for Our Time (Madrigal)On Stephen Hawking, Vader and Being More Machine Than Human (Mialet) *

TED: Amber Case

TED: Cynthia Breazeal

TED: Andrew McAfee

02.24  Technorealism (read Overview and FAQ). Podcast due

02.26  The Construction of Cybersocial Reality (Gotved)The Touchy Feely Future of Technology (NPR)

03.03  Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction (Richtel); Introduction to Born Digital (Palfrey & Gasser)

03.05   The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brain (Carr); The Digital Metaphor (Gui)

03.10 The Twitter Trap (Keller); Why Twitters’ Oral Culture Irritates Bill Keller (Zeynep); Justine Sacco’s Aftermath: The Cost of Twitter Outrage (Gay)

03.12  Mother Nature in Full Force – no class

03.17  Spring Break – no class

03.19  Spring Break – no class

03.24  A Reply to Facebook Critics(Wittkower); America’s Facebook Generation is Reading Strong (NPR); Facebook, Surveillance, and Power (Doyle & Frasier)*

03.26  Alone Together (Turkle); Always On (Turkle)

03.31  Transmedia and the Future of Storytelling (Norrington); Transmedia 202: Further Reflections (Jenkins) 

04.02  The Story Behind the Meme (PR Daily); Vine due

04.07  Instructor at Conference – no class

04.09 Wikipedia and the Death of the Expert (Bustillos)

04.14  Is Google Making Us Stupid? (Carr); Google Is Not Making You Stupid. Meme due

04.16  Trolling: Who Does It and Why? (BBC); The Unintended Consequences of Cyberbullying Rhetoric and Bullying as True Drama: Why Cyberbullying Rhetoric Misses the Mark (Zephoria)*

04.21  Digital Divide and Social Media: Connectivity Doesn’t End the Digital Divide, Skills Do (Radovanovic)

TED: Bridging the Gender and Digital Divide

TED: Aleph Molinari and the Digital Divide

PBS News Hour: Cut Off From the Opportunity Without Equal Access to the Internet

04.23  Plug In Better: A Manifesto (Samuel); Etiquette Returns For the Digital Generation (Williams)

04. 28  Electronic Watermarks (Levinson); Larry Lessig: How Creativity is Being Strangled by the Law (video to watch in class)

04.30  Confronting the Myth of the Digital Native (O’Neil); You Have One Identity: Performing the Self on Facebook and LinkedIn (van Dijck)

05.05  Final Exam



  1. Pingback: So, why blog? What makes me special? | About the Typos

  2. Christopher Moore

    Reblogged this on Cryptocommonicon and commented:
    awesome curriculum and course guide for “Cyberculture” studies

  3. Pingback: Teaching about Facebook?! | About the Typos

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