Week 8 Assignment Guide

Digital polarization

image by Pixabay

Misinformation abounds. This has always been the case, but the problem has become acute in the age of digital communication. As Mike Caulfield and Zeynep Tufekci have been showing in the week following the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook is particularly susceptible to this problem. Of course, Facebook is not alone. The ease with which we can share “news” on social media platforms makes it increasingly easy to contribute to the virality of falsehoods. ... But this problem is bigger than the proliferation of misinformation in today’s media landscape. ...

Digital media scholars like Howard Rheingold, Cathy Davidson, Neil Postman, and even science communicators like Carl Sagan have been advocating new digital literacies for some time now ― literacies that include things like attention management, network theories, collaboration, and the modern spin on critical thinking, crap detection. Rheingold begins his book Net Smart: How to Thrive Online:

The future of digital culture ― yours, mine, and ours ― depends on how well we learn to use the media that have infiltrated, amplified, distracted, enriched, and complicated our lives.

This week, we'll continue our work in building these literacies, looking specifically to issues of digital polarization, in conjunction with Mike Caulfield's visit to campus on Wednesday.


For Monday (8am)

Read all of the articles listed under "Readings" below, and skim through the Resources. Leave at least two annotations on the readings in the digitalstudies hypothes.is group.

For Tuesday (8am)

Read at least some of your colleagues' annotations and reply to at least one.

Signup for an account on the Digital Polarization Initiative website (feel free to use your real name or a pseudonym) and choose a recent news topic that you know something about and about which you would like to contribute.

Tuesday class meeting

In class, we will discuss issues raised in the readings and your annotations, and then we will spend time individually or in small groups making or preparing to make contributions to the DigiPo project.

Thursday class meeting

In lieu of class on Thursday, please do one of the following:

  • Attend the Cryptoparty on Thursday, March 16, 4-8pm, in the HCC Digital Auditorium. We'll screen the movie Citizen Four, followed by free food (pizza, I think), and then at 6pm move into projects related to digital privacy and protection from online harassment.

For Friday (8am)

Complete what you think to be a substantive contribution to digipo.ioDrop a link and a brief explanation of what you did and why in the #general channel on Slack.

Be sure to do some work on your domain this week. That could involve posting something about the DigiPo contributions you made (or links to them with some explanation) to your domain. Or if that project doesn't fit your site's theme, you can make other additions/changes/deletions on your site.

Complete your self-assessment for Week 8 and add it to the document you created last week. Be sure to comment on the updates you made to your domain, and include links to your network visualization project and at least some of your annotations/replies.

For materials due Monday and Tuesday, see the Week 9 Guide.