Info 98

Directed Group Study for Lower Division Undergraduates

1-4 units

Course Description

Course may be repeated for credit. One to four hours of directed group study per week. Must be taken on a passed/not passed basis. Lectures and small group discussions focusing on topics of interest, varying from semester to semester.

Courses Offered

This course explores the centrality of technology to processes of political transformation, starting from the tension between discourses of liberation and domination. We will study the interplay of computing with present struggles in the privatization of education, intellectual property, militarization, mass surveillance, labor, gender, sexuality, race, coloniality/decoloniality, and transnational activism. Questions to be addressed include: how do financial, legal, and algorithmic, and other domains of control shape global flows of information? How do old concepts in social theory (e.g., the ‘public sphere’) translate to the digital context? How can we propose technological interventions without reproducing naïve solutionism or false universalism?

This is a student-initiated group study course (DE-Cal). Please contact the student coordinator(s) for specific questions.

Must be taken on a passed/not passed basis. Students who previously completed The Politics of Digital Piracy (Info 98/Info 198) will receive no credit for Discourse on Computing.

This is a student-initiated group study course (DE-Cal). Please contact the student coordinator(s) for specific questions.

Must be taken on a P/NP basis.

How can we critically think about emergent phenomena of the Internet? Is the Internet a democratic medium for political action (a "networked public sphere") or a surveillance apparatus of centralized control? Who has access to digital information and what techniques are used to make information artificially scarce? How do trade group lawsuits against digital "piracy" affect a generation's perception of the law? Should we look at the growing sphere of copyright as a public interest problem, or celebrate the expansion of creators' rights? Can free software thrive independently from ideological backing? Why are peer production communities like Wikipedia and Linux affected by extreme gender disparity?

In this course, we will examine the societal implications of computer networks from critical and technical perspectives. We will collectively engage with issues of intellectual property, access to information, privacy, freedom of speech, representation, and peer production. We will be discussing provocative texts and media, doing hands-on exploration of emerging technologies, and practicing ethnographic fieldwork in online communities. We will also offer opportunities for field trips and guest speakers to provide us with different perspectives. Additionally, students will engage in a semester-long collaborative project in a flexible format.

This is a student-initiated group study course (DE-Cal). Please contact the student coordinator(s) for specific questions.

Must be taken on a passed/not passed basis.

Last updated:

September 2, 2016