Friday, 29 January 2010

MAC309 New Media, The Web, Society - Module Overview

I've just put what I think are the finishing touches to the module guide for the Level 3 module MAC309: New Media, The Web, Society. There may be some cosmetic changes to this guide in the future (everything is subject to change!) but it will be broadly similar to how the following extracts read. In case you are one of the MAC309 students taking the module, I thought you'd appreciate a little preview ahead of next week's sessions. There's also a Facebook study group setup here.

FACULTY: Arts, Design & Media
MODULE BOARD: Media and Cultural Studies
LEARNING HOURS: 100 hours (the exact nature of which is specified in the module guide).

Upon successful completion of this module students will have demonstrated:
  1. advanced skills in research and the development of an argument;
  2. advanced written presentation skills
  1. knowledge and understanding of contemporary media theories relevant to an analysis of a particular topic
  2. ability to apply this knowledge and understanding to an analysis of the media and to communicate effectively.
This is variable from year to year. The module aims to develop students’ knowledge of an aspect of the media. It will be based upon theoretical approaches appropriate for final- year work, and will be compatible with staff research expertise.

Teaching will adopt a lecture/seminar approach, in which the former will normally be devoted to the exploration of theoretical issues, and the seminar to detailed analysis of a specific topic in the light of the ideas explored.

The module will be assessed by:
End of module essay (2,500 words) (assesses S 1 & 2; K 1 & 2) 100%

Module overview:

Today’s society is a complex one in which a pervasive media culture dominates social life to the point where it is frequently difficult to comprehend the myriad relationships between the media, society and everyday life. The emergence of the web and the Internet adds a further level of complexity to this.

What we see, hear and read is the product of a number of forces (political, economic, cultural, legislative, etc) and they shape or understanding of ourselves, our community, and our world. Currently, our media culture is undergoing a series of transformations - as new forms of entertainment, new venues for political debate, and new models of journalism emerge online, and as the established producers of media struggle to adapt to the various challenges posed by a read/write model of the Web. Cultural practices are changing, as are our understandings of what they might mean.

This module will explore how the cultural landscape has changed in relation to media and information technologies, how broadcast media and traditional publishing are converging with networked computing, and what implications these changes may have for society, politics, and culture more generally. The current era of the Internet ahs been referred to as Web 2.0 – a term which warrants detailed investigation. It will focus on cases drawn from new, information-based media: online news, blogs, Wikipedia, YouTube, mash-ups, social networking applications, peer-to-peer networks, video gaming, virtual communities, etc - but will examine them so as to understand the underlying relationship between media and society.

One key aspect of the module will involve a focus on the ideas put forward by contemporary technologists and business leaders looking to shape the future of new media businesses. Critical debates about the role the Internet plays in society will be considered. Some sessions will look at the architecture of the Internet and the role it plays in facilitating democracy, and what the future of the Internet might look like. Some sessions will consider the emergence of user-generated content and the ease and accessibility of free tools for self-publicising. The persuasive role of online rhetoric and branding will also feature.

Week by week outline

Week 1: Module overview and predicting the future
3rd Feb 2010
This session will provide students with a framework for engaging with the module. It was also introduce students to some of the ways they can engage with the module and its content using online services such as Facebook, Twitter, and Delicious, etc. It will also touch on the role(s) played by technology when describing the future.

Week 2: New Media Monopolies: “What Would Google Do?”
10th Feb 2010
This session will drawn on ideas and themes raised by ideas associated with globalization, in particular how it pertains to global media ownership trends. It will also consider the emergence of the search giant, Google, and attempt to contextualize the shifting balance of power between ‘old’ and ‘new’ media

Week 3: The Network Effect
17th Feb 2010
Networks of data permeate our lives almost invisibly. How this data flows around the global network that is the Web is coming under increasing scrutiny in numerous circles concerned with copyright human rights, cyber warfare and e-commerce. This session will consider current arguments around the regulation of data and the neutrality of the Internet.

Week 4: User Generated Content: “The Cult of the Amateur”?
24th Feb 2010
This week’s session will consider the emergence and roles played by participatory culture and user-generated content (UGC). In particular, the session will focus on the argument put forward by journalist, Andrew Keen, that social media is potentially damaging to cultural activity by virtue of its escalation of the role of amateur to the role of expert.

Week 5: The Cost of Free
3rd Mar 2010
The Web has brought with it many innovations that have transformed how business takes place. This week’s session will look at the impact that “free” information is having by considering examples taken from popular culture including free news, free music, free email, and free software amongst others. It will also consider the arguments of Wired editor, Chris Anderson, that “free” is the price of the future

Week 6: Competing With Piracy: “The Pirate’s Dilemma”
10th Mar 2010
Building on the arguments put forward in previous weeks, this session will consider the impact of peer-to-peer piracy on the cultural industries. It will consider some of the rhetorical and legal strategies advocated by proponents of the various media industries (eg., MPAA, RIAA, IFPI, BPI, BREIN, etc) and it will position them against the backdrop of changes in the practices and habits of media consumers.

Week 7: Tag, You’re It! Playing Games With Digital Photography
17th Mar 2010
With image technology now cheaper and more accessible than ever before we can capture, upload and distribute our photographs globally, within seconds. However new applications and inbuilt GPS allow users to do other interesting things with their camera. This session will review the different roles of photography online, as well as look at the ways that this technology is encouraging various interactions with users and their everyday space.

Week 8: Viral Media: Forward/Retweet/Embed/Share Link
24th Mar 2010
Social media is redundant without the capacity to share material with like-minded people. Many recent success stories like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr take advantage of the capacity to share content in such a way that it spreads rapidly, like a virus. The session will consider the implications of viral media across a number of examples including news, politics, advertising and celebrity culture.

=====SPRING BREAK=====

Week 9: Reliability & Reputation: Who Can You Trust?
21st Apr 2010
The Internet has provided a vast platform for information dissemination. Whereas the modernity brought with it reputations that were often cemented in the authority of powerful institutions, the contemporary era is one in which reputation is contingent. The power of the crowd and peer-based contributions via services like Wikipedia are forcing raising questions about the extent to which trust is managed. This session will attempt to engage with those difficult questions

Week 10: The Cult of Mac
28th Apr 2010
The last decade has seen the Apple brand grow in stature off the back of loyal support from a diehard legion of acolytes often referred to as a cult. This session will consider the success and failings of several Apple marketing campaigns, as well as an exploration of the contribution made by the Apple fanbase to the company’s success.

Week 11: Virtual Sex
5th May 2010
The Internet has enabled a diverse range of sexual activity to flourish online. Using the popular virtual world Second Life as an example, this session will consider the representation of sexual practices and preferences in digital spaces.

Week 12: Concluding Statements: Where Do We Go From Here?
12th May 2010
This session will attempt to tie together the various themes and issues that have been raised on the module. It will consider recent online trends and attempt to contextualise them against the background of shifting policies and regulations that will impact on Internet-users in Britain and Europe. Time will also be allotted for discussion of the imminent assessment task.

There will also be a number of screenings scheduled on the module. They will NOT take place every week. The screening dates are as follows:
  • 23rd Apr 2010
  • The Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999, US, Martyn Burke)
  • 30th Apr 2010
  • Wonderland: Virtual Adultery and Cyberspace (2008, UK, Fergus O’Brien)
Hope that's alright....

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