Assignments 2011

Course assignments are spread throughout the quarter. Although your work is evaluated primarily on a term project, the bulk of your final grade does not rest on one deliverable turned in finals week.

Reading Assignment Details

Students will prepare a written reading reflection at least three times during the quarter. These mini-essays (approximately 500-600 words) should be posted to the student blog by noon the day of class. They should be substantive, be spell-checked, and integrate readings with real life experience/observation. They are distributed throughout the quarter (to help you manage your time). These posts are due by 9 am the day of class.

  • There should be at least one reflection post during weeks 2-3
  • There should be at least one reflection post during weeks 4-6
  • There should be at least one reflection post during weeks 7-8

The reading assignments for each week are on the course home page.

Assessment Criteria
Does the reflection go beyond a summary to link the article(s) to course material and/or student research or work experience? Is the material posted in a timely manner and free of grammatical errors?

To conform with the blogging genre, please categorize the blog post “reading reflection” or “com546.”

Examples From Prior Classes

Leading Discussion

Each student will lead discussion one class session during the quarter. Discussion leaders should choose an article from the assigned reading list (or petition for a different one). The first evening, there is an electronic signup. Assigned week is on the student page. (If you swap with someone, please send me an email so that I can change this page.)

Presentation: Maximum of seven (7) slides including title and closing credit/contact. All will be shared on Because we are using Slideshare as a community for sharing these presentations, we cannot use Prezi as a delivery tool.
In the discussion, (1) link the reading to personal experience, research project, and/or current business practices as well as (2) link it to the general class reading, comparing and contrasting viewpoints. Students are encouraged to also find external material related to their individual interests.

Because of the size of the class, there will be more than one presentation each evening. Students will be divided into five discussion groups; each member will lead a structured small group discussion. To facilitate this, I suggest discussion leaders prepare at least three open-ended questions that they can use to get the group talking; many students find it helpful to include three questions on their final content slide.

The discussion leaders will provide a written analysis of the article on the student blog prior to class, thus contributing to the public discussion of issues raised by this course. In asynchronous communication — and to practice one of the technologies we are discussing — students are encouraged to comment on these posts. For students who are not comfortable speaking up in class, providing written comment is another form of class participation.

Assessment Criteria: Does the written analysis contain a proper citation (so that anyone may find the article)? Is the analysis written clearly and succinctly and does it meet the guidelines in this section? In the presentation, does the discussion leader go beyond a summary to link the article to course material and/or their research or work experience? Is the material posted in a timely manner and free of grammatical errors? How creatively does the student explore the topic?

After leading discussion, for extra credit (25 points) students may post a separate reflection on the experience within two days of class (in other words, by midnight Thursday night).

Each presentation and question session will be about 10 minutes. It’s much harder to give an effective short presentation than a long one. See these two examples!

Excerpt from remarks by Andor C. Klay upon receiving the Abraham Lincoln Award of the American Hungarian Federation, Nov. 24:

[Tividar Kohanyi, editor of the largest American newspaper in Hungarian language asked President William Howard Taft to speak at a banquet:]

”Just a brief one, Mr. President, since we can imagine how busy you must be – perhaps five minutes.” The President smiled and declined: ”Do you realize my friends, that to prepare even a five-minute speech would take several hours to plan, to draft, to rewrite, to pass through channels for clearances? I’m afraid that I just haven’t got the time.”

Kohanyi pressed: ”Well, as far as that goes, we would be delighted to have you speak for an hour.” The monumental body of the heaviest statesman of his time straightened up: ”Gentlemen, I am ready, now!”

If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now.
As quoted in The Wilson Era; Years of War and After, 1917–1923 (1946) by Josephus Daniels, p. 624. Referenced in

Book Review Details

In 800-1,000 words, complete a critical review of a book of your choice (from the list). These books are selected to provide students with a historical perspective of a social aspect of communication technology. What will determine your grade will not be the position you take (to endorse or criticize the book). What is more important is the rigor (evidence) with which you support your opinion.

Book reviews are submitted on the student blog, thus contributing to the public discussion of issues raised by the books. If you would like to create an alternative review, such as a video review on YouTube, talk to (pitch) me!

Due date – week 5 – on main schedule; post to your course blog.
:: 2009 book reviews ; 2010 book reviews ; 2011 book reviews.

Select from one of these books:

  • Being Digital (1996), N. Negroponte (see excerptsAmazon)
  • The Cluetrain Manifesto (1999), C. Locke et al (Amazononline)
  • Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace (2000) or Code 2.0, L. Lessig (Amazon)
  • Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and The Dawn of the Computer Age (1999), M.A. Hiltzik (Amazon)
  • ADDED April 08 – The Emergence of Modern Marketing (2003), R.A. Church and A. Godley, ed (Amazon)
  • A History of Broadcasting in the United States, Vol 1 – Tower of Babel through 1933, E. Barnouw. (GoogleBooks)
  • ADDED April 08 — The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires (2010), T. Wu (Amazon).
  • ADDED April 08 — Merchants and Manufacturers: Studies in the Changing Structure of Nineteeth Century Marketing (1989), G. Porder and H.C. Livesay (Amazon)
  • Neuromancer (1984), W. Gibson [** fiction]
  • Peer-to-Peer: Harnessing the Power of Disruptive Technologies (2001), A. Oram (Amazon)
  • Rainbows End (2006), V. Vinge [** fiction]
  • Smart Mobs (2002), H. Rheingold
  • ADDED April 08 — Soap, Sex, and Cigarettes: A Cultural History of American Advertising (2011), J. Sivulka (Amazon)
  • The Social Life of Information (2000), J.S. Brown and P. Duguid
  • Telephone: The First One Hundred Years (1975 or 1976), J. Brooks
  • The Transparent Society (1998), D. Brin
  • The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century’s On-line Pioneers (1998 or 2007), T. Standage (Amazon)
  • The Virtual Community: Homesteading on The Electronic Frontier (2000), H. Rheingold
  • We The Media (2004), D. Gillmor (online book)

Book review examples (these are examples of good book reviews; some books are NOT on our reading list) and assessment criteria (Google doc). All 2009 book reviewsall 2010 book reviews.

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