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Section 13 Course Description

Course Name: Digital Culture
Section 13
Instructor: Kerry Haumann

Is Google making us stupid? This is a question Nicholas Carr took up in The Atlantic in 2008, arguing that while current technologies increase our abilities to scan and skim, they are also decreasing our abilities to read deeply, concentrate, and reflect. Clay Shirky, however, argues technology is “unleashing a torrent of creative production that will transform our world” in very positive ways. Carr and Shirky are among many, many authors and intellectuals who have, over roughly the past decade, been actively exploring the ways technology and people influence one another, both for good and ill.

Have digital spaces delivered on initial promises that identity markers like race, gender, ability, and class wouldn’t matter online? Are issues of access still important when more than 93 percent of Americans live in areas that offer wired broadband service and about 98 percent have access to high-speed Internet? Is Twitter ruining our ability to engage in meaningful debates, or is it a powerful tool of democracy? Are online friends and communities any more or less “real” than people and communities offline? These are just a sampling of the types of questions we will consider in this section of FYRS. Our goal as a class will be to read and discuss widely within conversations of technology and culture so that each of you may explore and narrow your own specific interests and, ultimately, contribute your own questions and arguments to these conversations.