SOAS University of London

Centre for Global Media and Communications

Topics in Global Digital Cultures

Module Code:
15PMSC034
Credits:
15
Year of study:
Any
Taught in:
Term 2
In this module, we explore two main themes that run through any critical discussion of contemporary digital cultures: 1, whether digital technologies represent a moment of break from the past, empowering new groups of people and fundamentally changing the way we relate to each other and organize as a society, or whether they are a continuation, however fast and seemingly ground-breaking, of social shifts that began in the past; and 2. whether digital technologies, which originated mostly in the US and Europe, bring Western socio-technical values to other cultures, particularly in the Global South, or whether they are being adapted to local circumstances.

Prerequisites

  • This Module is capped at 25 places
  • Students enrol via the online Module Sign-Up system. Students are advised of the timing of this process via email by the Faculty Office

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  1. - Engage critically with digital technologies, and be able to evaluate claims regarding their potential with regard to their historical legacies and the political and economic context where they originate;
  2. - Analyze the impact and trajectories of digital technologies in the Global South as a whole, and in specific countries that we will focus on;
  3. - Connect the topics we discuss this term with the theories of the information society and of technological studies of society that we discussed in the first term;
  4. - Create and deliver different types of multimedia presentations;
  5. - Participate in a range of online activities

Scope and syllabus

1. Introduction: Algorithms and Big Data
2. Big Data continued; Quantified and Quantifiable Self
3. Digital Money: From Bitcoins to Mobile Money
4. The dark side of the internet: bullying and online harassing
5. Maker Culture: Jugaad, Shanzhai, and Good Enough Innovation
6. Games & Gamers
7. Wikipedia
8. The poetics of digital cultural production
9. The cycle of digital life: digital technologies from birth to death
10. Off the grid: non-users, partial users, alternative users.

Method of assessment

  • Essay of 1,500 words - worth 50%
  • Digital Assignments - worth 25%
  • Weekly Reading Responses - worth 25%

Suggested reading

Note that these readings are not new, but already exist as readings for the core 1-unit course.

  • danah boyd, Kate Crawford. 2012. “Critical Questions for Big Data: Provocations for a Cultural, Technological, and Scholarly Phenomenon.” Information, Communication & Society 15(5) pp. 662-679.
  • Donna Haraway. 1991. “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Social¬ist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century,” in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York; Routledge. pp149-181.
  • Kate Crawford, Jessa Lingel, Tero Karppi. 2015. “Our Metrics, Ourselves: A Hun¬dred Years of Self-Tracking from the Weight Scale to the Wrist Wearable Device.” European Journal of Cultural Studies 18(4-5) pp479-496
  • Andres Guadamuz, Chris Marsden. 2015. “Blockchains and Bitcoin: Regulatory Responses to Cryptocurrencies.” First Monday 20(12).
  • Danielle Keats Citron. 2014. “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace: Introduction.” In Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, Harvard University Press; University of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-11.
  • Joe Karaganis (ed.) 2007. Structures of Participation in Digital Culture. New York: Social Science Research Council
  • Geert Lovink and Nathaniel Tkacz (eds), 2011. Critical Point of View: A Wikipedia Reader. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures.
  • Michel Hockx. 2015. Internet Literature in China. New York: Columbia University Press
  • Nicola Wright. 2014. “Death and the Internet: The Implications of the Digital Afterlife.” First Monday 19(6).
  • Eric P.S. Baumer, Morgan G. Ames, Jenna Burrell, Jed R. Brubaker, Paul Dourish. 2015. “Why study technology non-use?” First Monday, 20(11) .  

Disclaimer

Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules