Politics and Technology of Control: Introduction

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The Net has great potential for “good” (e.g. innovation, economic growth, education, and access to information), and likewise is a great platform for the bawdy, tawdry and illegal. Is this platform about fundamental social, political and economic change, or about easier access to pornography, cheap pharmaceuticals, free music and poker at home? This question leads us to a host of interesting issues that weave their way through the course related to openness, access, regulatory control, free speech, anonymity, intellectual property rights, democracy, transparency, norms and values, economic and cultural change, and cyber-terrorism, as well as scamsters and thieves.

Preparation (Assignment "Zero")

To frame the issues we will be talking about in this class and to get the discussion going, we'll start with the recent controversy involving Wikileaks. Take some time to read through the articles below. Come to class prepared to answer the following questions and to pose some questions of your own.

  • What is Wikileaks? Is it a journalism organization? A terrorist organization? A criminal syndicate?
  • Do we need an organization like Wikileaks?
  • What kind of arguments would you make to support your position one way or the other?
  • What was the U.S.'s (and the world's) response to Wikileaks' disclosure of diplomatic cables?
  • What are the legal and/or free speech implications involved in the decision by Amazon to stop hosting the Wikileaks site?
  • What do you think the debate concerning Wikileaks shows about the nature of the Internet?


Optional Readings

Videos Watched in Class

Class Discussion

The most significant changes and challenges brought on by digital technologies.

- Your ideas here...

Please use this space for comments/discussion you would like to share with the rest of the class.

The idea of "Stateless News Organizations" seems to be getting around... In my country though it's a little less sophisticated...

--Jastify 15:45, 21 January 2011 (UTC)

Sadly, Rosen’s prediction of the public’s reaction to the release of the Afghanistan War logs was spot on. These logs, in my opinion, did not receive enough attention or create the amount of outrage they deserved. Because they exposed a distasteful problem, an uncomfortable public chose to turn a blind eye. --Jedmonds 20:38, 21 January 2011 (UTC)

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