Network Culture Course

The purpose of this seminar is to come to an advanced historical understanding of our networked age. We will explore how the network is not merely a technology with social ramifications but rather serves as a cultural dominant connecting changes in society, economy, aesthetics, urbanism, and ideology. As a history of the contemporary, the seminar is organized around a series of topics tracing a genealogy of present-day culture.

Requirements:
 
Participation: 20%
 
Each class will consist of a presentation by the instructor on selected themes, followed by an in-depth discussion in seminar. Students are expected to prepare all readings in order to facilitate a discussion in which all students participate. Active participation by all students in each session is required. 
 
Tumblr: 20%
 
Each student is expected to maintain a tumblelog on tumblr.com and to post at least twice a week. Beyond mere reblogging of information pertinent to the course, the tumblelog will form a record and commentary upon their research during the semester.
 
Curatorial Project: 60%
 
The term project will be a curatorial project, exploring a cultural topic related to the subject matter with a written and visual component.  
 
Both design and scholarship are integral to the term project. A carefully curated and designed work will be accompanied a 3,500 word essay on the curated material. 
 
Reading:
 
There is one textbook. Kazys Varnelis, ed. Networked Publics (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2008).
 
Other readings will be available separately on-line.

 

 
01
09.11
Introduction
 
Mizuko Ito, “Introduction,” and Kazys Varnelis, “Conclusion: The Meaning of Network Culture,” Networked Publics, 1-13 and 145-163.
 
02
09.18
Network Theory
 
Manuel Castells, “Informationalism, Networks, and the Network Society: A Theoretical Blueprint. In Castells, ed. The Network Society: A Cross-cultural Perspective (Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2004), 3-45.
 
Albert-László Barabási, “Six Degrees of Separation,” “Small Worlds,” and “Hubs and Connectors,” Linked: The New Science of Networks (Cambridge, MA: Perseus, 2002), 25-63.
Nicholas Carr, “From the Many to the Few” The Big Switch: Rewiring the World from Edison to Google (New York: W. W. Norton, 2008), 127-149.
 
Optional:
 
Mark S. Granovetter, “The Strength of Weak Ties,” American Journal of Sociology 78 (May 1973), 1360-1380.
 
Duncan J. Watts, “The Connected Age,” Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age, (New York: W.W. Norton, 2003), 19-42.
 
03
09.25
Freedom and Control
 
Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript on Societies of Control ,” October 59 (Winter 1992), 73-77.
 
Michel Foucault, “Docile Bodies,” Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. (New York: Vintage Books, 1995), 135-156.
Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron, “The Californian Ideology,” http://www.hrc.wmin.ac.uk/theory-californianideology-main.html
 
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, “Capitalist Sovereignty, Or Administering the Global Society of Control,” Empire (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000), 325-350.
 
Optional:
 
Alexander R. Galloway, “Physical Media,”Protocol: How Control Exists after Decentralization, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004), 29-53.
 
04
10.02
Postmodernism and History after the End of History
 
Jean Baudrillard, “The End of the Millennium or the Countdown,” Economy & Society 26 (1997): 447-55.
 
Jean François Lyotard, “Answering the Question: What is Postmodernism?” Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1984), xxiii-xxv.
 
05
10.09
Postfordism and Postmodernism
 
David Harvey, “Fordism” and “From Fordism to Flexible Accumulation,” in The Condition of Postmodernity, (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1989), 125-172.
 
Fredric Jameson, “Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism,” New Left Review 146 (July/August 1984): 53-92.
 
Optional:
 
Hal Foster, “Postmodernism: A Preface,” in Hal Foster, ed., The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture (Townsend, Washington: Bay Press, 1983), ix-xvi.
 
 
06
10.16
Place, I. Non-Place to Networked Place
 
Kazys Varnelis and Anne Friedberg, "Place: The Networking of Public Space," Varnelis, ed. Networked Publics (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008), 15-42.
 
Marc Augé, “Prologue” and “From Places to Non-Places,” in Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity, (London; New York: Verso, 1995), 1-6, 75-115.
 
Hans Ibelings, “Supermodernism,” Supermodernism (Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 1998), 55-102.
 
Kazys Varnelis, interview with Hans Ibelings, to be posted online.
Ignasi de Sola-Morales Rubió, “Terrain Vague,” Cynthia Davison, ed. Anyplace (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995), 119-123.
 
 
07
10.23
Place, II. Maps and Things



Kazys Varnelis and Marc Tuters, “Beyond Locative Media: Giving Shape to the Internet of Things,” Leonardo 39, No. 4 (2006): 357–363.
 
Jordan Crandall, “Operational Media,” Ctheory, http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=441.
 
Bruno Latour, “On Actor Network Theory: A Few Clarifications,” Soziale Welt 47 (1998): 360-81, translated version, http://www.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/nettime-l-9801/msg00019.html.
 
 
08
10.30
Culture, I. Networked Publics and Cultural Work
 
Adrienne Russell, Mizuko Ito, Todd Richmond, and Marc Tuters, “Culture: Media Convergence and Networked Participation,” Networked Publics, 43-76.
 
Yochai Benkler, “Chapter 1. Introduction: A Moment of Opportunity and Challenge” and “Chapter 4. The Economics of Social Production,” The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), 1-28 and 91-127.



Geert Lovink, “Blogging: The Nihilist Impulse,” Eurozine (2007), http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2007-01-02-lovink-en.html
 
Alan Liu, The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), excerpts.
 
 
09
11.06
Culture, II. Power Laws and Influence
 
Chris Anderson, “The Long Tail,” Wired, October 2004, www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html
 
Clay Shirky, “Power Laws, Weblogs and Inequality,” Clay Shirky’s Writings About the Internet.
 
Bill Wausik, “My Crowd. Or Phase 5: A Report from the Inventor of the Flash Mob,” Harper’s Magazine (March 2006), 56-66.
 
Optional:
 
Selections from Michael J. Weiss, The Clustered World: How We Live, What We Buy, and What it All Means About Who We Are (New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 1999).
 
Malcolm Gladwell, “The Coolhunt,” New Yorker (March 17, 1997), 78-88,
 
Grant McCracken, “Who Killed the Coolhunter?”
 
Duncan J. Watts and Peter Sheridan Dodd, “Influentials, Networks, and Public Formation,” Journal of Consumer Research (December 2007), 441-458.
 
 
10
11.13
Infrastructure
 
François Bar, Walter Baer, Shahram Ghandeharizadeh, and Fernando Ordonez "Infrastructure: Network Neutrality and Network Futures," in Networked Publics, 109-144.
 
Joseph A .Tainter, “Introduction to Collapse,” The Collapse of Complex Societies, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 1-21.
 
Tom Vanderbilt, “Data Center Overload,” The New York Times (June 8, 2009), http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/14/magazine/14search-t.html



Nicholas Carr, “World Wide Computer” The Big Switch: Rewiring the World from Edison to Google (New York: W. W. Norton, 2008), 107-127.
 
 
11
11.20
Subjectivity
 
Nicholas Carr, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?,” Atlantic Monthly, July/August 2008, 56-63.
 
Kenneth J. Gergen,“Social Saturation and the Populated Self,” The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life (New York: Basic Books, 2000), 48-80.
 
Brian Holmes, “The Flexible Personality. For a New Cultural Critique, Transversal, http://transform.eipcp.net/transversal/1106/holmes/en
 
Warren Neidich, “Resistance is Futile,” Artbrain. Journal of Neuroasthetic Theory 4, http://www.artbrain.org/neuroaesthetics/neidich.html.
 
 
12
12.04
Politics, Urbanism, and Globalization
 
Saskia Sassen, “On Concentration and Centrality in the Global City,” Paul L. Knox and Peter J. Taylor, eds., World Cities in a World-System (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 63-78.
 
Saskia Sassen, “Electronic space and power,” Journal of Urban Technology 4 (1997): 1-17.
 
Stephen Graham, “Communication Grids: Cities and Infrastructure,” in Saskia Sassen, Global Networks. Linked Cities (London: Routledge, 2002), 71-92.