Friday, 29 January 2010

MAC281 Cybercultures - Module Overview

Not to be left out, any of my Level 2 students signed up to take MAC281 Cyberculture can now take a preview of the module below. The full module guide is a little more uptodate and is subject to change before teaching starts. There's a Facebook study group setup here. It's empty now but classes haven't started yet. Be sure to join and post/share anything you think your fellow classmates might be interested in.

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

On successful completion of the module, students will have demonstrated:

1. knowledge and critical understanding of the theoretical concepts and issues and debates relating to the study of cyberculture;
2. an understanding of the history and key concepts of cyberculture;
3. the ability to apply these concepts in the critical analysis of various forms of cyberculture;
4. the ability to communicate information, arguments and analysis cogently and fluently

This module allows students to continue their study of cybercultures from level 1 (MAC129). Students will explore topics such as: the relationship between the internet and the music, film and television industries, blogging and journalism, cybersex, podcasting, digital art, the representation of virtual reality in popular culture, cyber-nations, and open source communities.

Illustrated lectures will demonstrate key concepts while tutor-led seminars will provide a forum in which to explore and critically discuss these issues.

Lectures: 12 hours
Seminars: 12 hours
Self-directed study: 76 hours

End of Semester Written Assignment (2000 words) 100%
(assesses Learning outcomes 1,2,3,4)

MAC281 Week by Week Schedule:

Week 1: Introduction to the module & a short history of Cyberculture – An overview of the module content and assessment

Week 2: The Music Industry and the Net Part 1: Producers, Profits, Pirates & Peers - This session will consider the crisis facing the music industry posed by recent changes in the organisation and distribution of music in the age of the Internet. The primary focus will be on the industry. It will consider the impact of peer-to-peer (P2P) exchange and the role played by BitTorrent technology upon the music industry’s traditional business model.

Week 3: The Music Industry and the Net Part 2: The Suits vs The Scene – This session will consider the new opportunities presented to music fans provided by the Internet. It will reassess some of the claims made by the music industry in context of actual audience members and analyse some of the reasons "pirates" give regarding ‘sharing’ music via the Internet.

Week 4: Podcasting: Radio and Convergence - An increasing amount of radio is now consumed via platforms other than the traditional wireless, with both streamed audio and now podcasting becoming more mainstream. New platforms have also offered new opportunities to new players and new media forms that can be shifted in both time and place.

Week 5: ‘Wikinomics’, Crowdsourcing & Participatory Culture – The knowledge and resources of millions of people can now be harnessed through self-organising groups via blogs, wikis, chat rooms, forums, peer-to-peer networks, and personal broadcasting platforms, etc. This session will consider the impact of low-cost collaborative production tools via the Web.

Week 6: Weblogs and the Rise of Citizen Journalism - Today, thanks to weblogs and mobile phones that can send photographs, anyone can be a journalist. New media evangelists claim traditional structures are crumbling as digital technology breaks down barriers and heralds a new age of transparency and participatory democracy. Will citizen journalists change our view of the world?

Week 7: The 'Actualities' of Virtual Realities - An exploration into the history, application and cultural and social impact and implications of virtual reality. The lecture will draw on key examples of VR from popular culture and industry as well as its use as an actual technology.

Week 8: Video Games, Narrative and ‘Play’ – The history of digital games stretches back over the best part of half a century yet academia has been slow to engage with this interactive form beyond offering moral objections. Currently, gaming is one of the most profitable media industries. This session will consider the ways game scholars have attempted to situate and explain this ‘new’ medium.

Week 9: Virtual Sex - This session will examine the representations of sex and sexual practices as facilitated by virtual worlds such as Second Life. We’ll examine some of the contemporary debates made around virtual worlds including claims made about its liberating potentials for sexual expression.

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

Week 10: Digital Photographic Cultures Online – Are we all photographers now? With photographic technology becoming cheaper and more accessible we can capture, store, print, upload and distribute our images like never before. This session will examine the explosion of amateur photography, looking at the different impacts and varying aesthetics of the photograph online.

Week 11: ‘Net Neutrality’ and the Future of the Internet - Network neutrality is a complex issue that has generated intense levels of political discussion in the United States in recent years, but relatively little attention from regulators in the UK. This session will consider the whether network operators should be prevented from blocking or prioritising certain network traffic or traffic from particular sources – effectively creating a two-tiered Internet – and who stands to gain from this

Week 12: Open Source Communities – The open source revolution is underway. Many digital media products (software and hardware) include some form of open source technology, which has helped keep the price down to an affordable level and push research and development forward. Who are the winners and losers in this brave new world?
Lectures run 2-3pm in the cinema (207) on Monday afternoon. You are also expected to attend the seminar at 11am (rm214) or 1pm (rm214) following day - Tuesday. Attendance is compulsory.
MAC281 Indicitive Reading

Week 1: Introduction to the module & a short history of Cyberculture

  • David Bell (2001), An Introduction to Cybercultures. London: Routledge
  • David Bell (2004), Cyberculture: the key concepts. New York : Routledge
  • David Bell & Kennedy, B. (2000). The Cybercultures Reader. Routledge: London
  • David Gauntlett (2004), web.studies: Rewiring Media Studies for the Digital Age (second edition). Arnold: London

Week 2: The Music Industry and the Net Part 1: Producers, Profits, Pirates & Peers

  • Andrew Leyshon et al. (2005). ‘On the reproduction of the musical economy after the Internet’ in Media, Culture & Society, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp 177-209.
  • Lawrence Lessig (2004), Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity, London: Penguin Press (ebook available here)
  • Felix Oberholzer & Koleman Strumpf. (2004). ‘The Effect of File-sharing on Record Sales: An Empirical Analysis (March):
  • Wiliam Patry (2009), Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars, Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Andrew Sparrow (2006), Music Distribution and the Internet: A legal guide for the music business’ Aldershot: Gower

Week 3: The Music Industry and the Net Part 2: The Suits vs The Scene

  • Ian Condry (2004). 'Cultures of music piracy: An ethnographic comparison of the US and Japan' in International Journal of Cultural Studies, Vol. 7, No. 3 pp 343-363.
  • Matt Mason (2008), The Pirate’s Dilemma: How hackers, punk capitalists and graffiti millionaires are remixing our culture and changing the world, London: Allen Lane (ebook available here)
  • Lawrence Lessig (2009), Remix: Making art and commerce thrive in the hybrid economy, London: Bloomsbury (ebook available here)
  • Chris Rojek (2005), ‘P2P Leisure Exchange: Net Banditry and the Policing of Intellectual Property’ in Leisure Studies, Vol. 24, No. 4, pp 357-369.
  • G. W. Woodsworth (2004), ‘Hackers, Users, and Suits: Napster and Representations of Identity’ in Popular Music and Society, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp 161-184.

Week 4: Podcasting: Radio and Convergence

  • Richard Berry (2006), ‘Will the iPod Kill the Radio Star? Profiling Podcasting as Radio’, Convergence, Vol. 12, No. 2.
  • Chris Priestman (2001). Web Radio. Focal Press
  • Henry Jenkins (2004). ‘The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence’ in The International Journal of Cultural Studies Vol.7, No.1 (Spring 2004)
  • Henry Jenkins (2006) Convergence Culture. New York University Press.

Week 5: ‘Wikinomics’, Crowdsourcing & Participatory Culture

  • Jean Burgess & Joshua Green (2009), Youtube: Online Video and Participatory Culture, Cambridge: Polity
  • Jeff Howe (2008), Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business, London: Random House
  • Henry Jenkins (2006) ‘Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century’, MacArthur Foundation white paper:
  • Charles Leadbetter (2008), We/Think: Mass innovation, not mass production, London: Profile.
  • Clay Shirky (2008), Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, London: Allen Lane
  • Don Tapscott & Anthony D Williams (2008), Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything – Expanded Edition, London: Atlantic Books

Week 6: Weblogs and the Rise of Citizen Journalism

  • Mark Deuze (2007), Media Work, Cambridge: Polity
  • Dan Gillmor (2004) We the Media. USA: O’Reilly
  • Andrew Keen (2008), The Cult of the Amateur: How blogs, MySpace, YouTube and the rest of today’s user-generated media are killing our culture and economy, London: Nicholas Brealy
  • Steve Outing: What Journalists Can Learn From Bloggers and What Bloggers Can Learn From Journalists

Week 7: The 'Actualities' of Virtual Realities

  • Howard Rheingold (1992), Virtual Reality. Simon & Schuster Inc
  • Steve Jones (2006) ‘Reality and Virtual Reality: When virtual and real worlds collide’, Cultural Studies, Vol 20, Nos 2-3: pp.211-226

Week 8: Video Games, Narrative and ‘Play’

  • Mia Consalvo & Nathan Dutton (2006). ‘Game analysis: Developing a methodological toolkit for the qualitative study of games’ in Game Studies: the international journal of computer game research, Volume 6, Issue 1.
  • John Dovey & Helen Kennedy (2006), Game Cultures: Computer Games as New Media, Open University Press
  • Aphra Kerr (2006), The Business and Culture of Digital Games: Gamework and Gameplay, London: Sage
  • Simons, J. (2007), ‘Narrative, Games, and Theory’ in Game Studies: the international journal of computer game research, Volume 7, Issue 1.
  • Jason Rutter & Jo Bryce (eds) (2006), Understanding Digital Games, London: Sage

Week 9: Virtual sex

  • Feona Atwood (2009), ‘Intimate adventures: Sex blogs, sex “blooks” and women’s sexual narration’, European Journal of Cultural Studies, Vol 12 (1): pp. 5-20
  • Feona Attwood (2009), “‘deepthroatfucker’ and ‘Discerning Adonis’: Men and cybersex’, International Journal of Cultural Studies, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp.279-294
  • Robert Alan Brookey & Kristopher L Cannon (2009), ‘Sex Lives in Second Life’, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Vol 26, No 2, pp. 145-164, 10.1080/15295030902860260

Week 10: Digital Photographic Cultures Online

Week 11: ‘Net Neutrality’ and the Future of the Internet

  • Paul Ganley & Ben Allgrove (2006), ‘Net neutrality: A user’s guide’, Computer Law and Security Report 22, Vol 22 Iss 6, doi:10.1016/j.clsr.2006.09.005
  • Lawrence Lessig & Robert W. McChesney (2006), ‘No Tolls on The Internet’, Washington Post
  • Gireesh Shrimali (2008), ‘Surplus extraction by network providers: Implications for net neutrality and innovation’, Telecommunications Policy, Volume 32, Issue 8, doi:10.1016/j.telpol.2008.06.005
  • Dave Everitt & Simon Mills (2009), ‘Cultural Anxiety 2.0’, Media, Culture & Society, Vol 31 (5): pp. 749-768
  • Jonathan Zittrain (2008), The Future of the Internet – And How To Stop It, London: Yale University Press (ebook available here)

Week 12: Open Source Communities

  • Chirs DiBona, Mark Stone & Danese Cooper (2005), Open Sources 2.0. USA: O'Reilly
  • OSBR.CA The Open Source Business Resource (2007), ‘Defining Open Source’
  • Steven Weber (2005), The Success of Open Source, London: Harvard University Press

See you next week...

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....

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Tracking musical expenditure: December

The final month of the year was always going to be one in which a few extra pounds were going to be spent on music due to the Christmas holidays. I expected I may buy the odd CD as a present for others but it turns out that all my bases were covered in the month prior. December purchases belong to me and me alone. The total for December comes to £51.95 with the grand total to date clocking in at £822.46.

The bulk of the spending this month went the ways of Activision and Sony with the purchase of two Guitar Hero-based games (Smash Hits and Band Hero, plus the costs to import their content into other games in the series). Only £2.43 went on traditional fare (ie singles). There were two purchases of the same track by Rage Against The Machine as orchestrated by various Facebook/Twitter campaigns, in order to prevent X-Factor from bagging the Christmas number one slot. Poor fellow Sandancer, Joe McElderry, at least he got to the top of the charts the following week. The other purchase was a Christmas charity single by Fucked Up (video below). The running total spent on singles and albums to date currently figures at £54.28