Politics and Technology of Control: Introduction
The Internet at its core is simply an expression of a technological protocol that allows for a particular way of sharing information. But from its humble beginnings the Internet has always felt like more than this. 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. So is this platform about fundamental social, political and economic change, or about access to solipsistic blogging, 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")
- Reflect on what you believe are the most significant social, cultural, political or economic changes associated with the spread of digital technologies? In a few sentences, please offer 2-3 examples in the Class Discussion section below and be prepared to discuss them during class.
- Ethan Zuckerman, History of the Internet (approx. 6 minutes, watch all)
- Jonathan Zittrain, How the Internet Works (approx. 4 mins., watch all)
- Eszter Hargittai, The Digital Divide and What to Do About It (New Economy Handbook) (focus on Sections I-III)
- Hargittai’s data is from 2003. For more recent data, see Pew Internet & American Life Project, Digital Differences 2012 (read intro, skim the sections).
- Rebecca MacKinnon, Let’s Take Back the Internet! (TED.com) (approx. 15 mins., watch all)
- Chris Locke, Doc Searls & David Weinberger, Cluetrain Manifesto (just the manifesto)