Weeks Pages/Week4

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Excerpts from the Syllabus:

Monday, Oct. 2. Networks and Network Dynamics

Social networks and online communities are a powerful and growing phenomenon. From the Internet to networks of friendship, disease transmission, and even terrorism, the concept--and the reality--of networks has come to pervade modern society. But what exactly is a network?

Guest: Professor David Lazer, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University



  • Using the tools we learned about today, analyze the distribution network you have chosen for your project. What characteristics does it have? If you characterize it as a network, what are the nodes? What are the connections? Are some nodes in the network more important to influence than others?

Tuesday, Oct. 3. Generating Buzz as Argument Strategy

What enables and nurtures online communities in an integrated media context? What sorts of phenomena have succeeded by the populist metric of the ‘Net. With all sites at least theoretically equally accessible, what gets people to go to particular thing? The popularity of these artifacts is an example of aggregation of minimal but powerful willing energy that is expressed just by adding hits and telling friends. What can these artifacts tell us about the elements of successful buzz creation? It is clear that we can aggregate energy to filter content: these artifacts demonstrate it. It is clear that we can aggregate energy to create structured repositories of useful information and resources: Wikipedia, free sound, the breaks, the latin library, and many other projects demonstrate it. Can we take it further by aggregating energy to make an argument for a principle? Downhill Battle’s 3 Notes and Runnin’ shows us it is possible.

Guest: Professor Jonathan Zittrain, Oxford University and Harvard Law School

Interesting further reading: LonelyGirl15: Prank, Art, or Both - Article about LonelyGirl15, the incredibly popular online video diary focusing on the life of a home-schooled 16-year-old, who turned out to be a hired actress working for a team of filmmakers.