Week of 9/28

This week, we’ll shift our attention from data and information in social media to the implications of mass datafication for state surveillance. In particular, we’ll be interested in the recent phenomenon of mass leaks of secret government information. We’ll talk about some changes that I’m making after Friday’s student feedback, from the blog setup to readings to assignment prompts. We’ll begin working toward the pecha-kucha presentations in earnest, and we’ll try to improve the comment discussions we’ve been having on the blog.

Monday, September 29

At the beginning of class, I’ll field questions about the new blog setup and outline some tweaks I’m making to the class after Friday’s feedback. Then, I’ll introduce the pecha-kucha assignment more fully. Most of the class, however, will be spent in a brainstorming and topic-narrowing exercise for the pecha-kucha presentations. You should leave class with a clearer idea of what your p-k may be about and with some resources to help you plan it.

Wednesday, October 1

The primary reading for Wednesday is Raffi Khatchadourian’s “No Secrets,” a profile of Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, from 2010. The “Wikileaks Manifesto” has been made optional. Today, we’ll begin to explore surveillance and transparency as we also try to improve the blog.

One recurring comment in the anonymous feedback on Friday involved the current lack of active discussion in comments sections on the blog. One student noted that people tended to “half-ass” the comments, and that blog authors never responded.

On Wednesday, we’ll work on ways to improve the comments and make them substantive and useful. We’ll have a discussion about ideas for improving blog discussion. Then, we’ll  have discussions about Wikileaks in the comments section of reading-response posts. Your commenting responsibilities for the week, Group A, will likely be fulfilled by work we do in class.

Friday, October 3

This week, I’ll work on developing a pecha-kucha presentation of my own related to our course theme. I’ll begin class on Friday by performing this pecha-kucha, and I’ll field questions about the topic and the form of the presentation.

During most of the rest of class, we’ll be working to design slides for your own pecha-kuchas.

Potentially Interesting Links/Resources

Here are some links related to our course theme (and to communication in general) that might interest you:

  • “Collateral Murder,” the leaked video that brought Wikileaks to prominence, can be viewed below. Be warned, of course, that the content herein is disturbing.

  • This article by Stephen Pinker thinks about why so much writing in our culture is bad. He basically argues that it’s because we have a great deal of difficulty imagining the experiences of our readers.
  • This Vox.com article from a couple weeks ago uses data to argue that Republicans and Democrats have such trouble getting along because of basic differences: Republicans are driven primarily by philosophy, while Democrats are driven primarily by a desire for policy changes.
  • This infographic on “What Makes an Infographic Bad” may help you think about visuals in your pecha-kuchas, and again later in the semester in your infographics. A sample:

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