Blog Posts

We will have three blog post assignments during the last half of the semester as a way of continuing to practice analysis and critical writing. This writing will contribute to your Class Website grade, but it can also serve as a form of extra credit. Each blog post will be graded on a three-point scale: 3 = excellent, 2 = good, 1 = needs improvement. If you get more than 6 points for the blog posts combined, each additional point will be added as a bonus point on your final average for the class. Each blog post should be added as a new post or page on your class site.

Blog Post 2 – Monday, April 15
This post takes up our recent readings from Szymielewicz, Jackson, Byrne, and Tufekci. Your blog post should be at least 600 words and should address one of the following sets of prompts. Include embedded content (links, images, videos, tweets, etc.) when relevant.

  • Map out your digital data profile following Szymielewicz’s thinking. What data and information have you shared online – through social media, browser history, online forms completed, online purchases, etc.? What aspects of your behavior can be determined based on how you use digital technologies and the internet? What do you think your data profile suggests about you? What are the range of ways it might be interpreted? Think about what sort of ads you are shown at different times on different sites; what do these suggest about your digital profile? You should incorporate specific examples and help us see how your thinking adds to our understanding of Szymielewicz.
  • The concept of surveillance describes how we are observed, tracked, and followed, whether by the government or a company or another person or a machine. Oftentimes this surveillance and the data generated from it are used against us or open ways for us to be used for profit or control. Think of an example of surveillance at work. Who is doing the surveillance and why? What benefits do they get out of it? Whom does this surveillance target? How are they being observed? What sort of data is being collected? What impact does the surveillance have on their lives? On society more generally? Is this surveillance justified? Why or why not? How does your analysis add to our understanding of one of our texts?
  • Jackson and Byrne help us see how algorithms and surveillance tactics target marginalized populations, specifically African Americans and poor folks. What other examples come to mind when you think about how algorithms (in search engines or elsewhere) work for or against a particular group of people? What other examples come to mind when you think about rights, privileges, or benefits not granted to people who are marginalized that other people get to enjoy? What other hoops, hurdles, or inconveniences do people who are marginalized have to go through that other people don’t? Why is this? What justifications do we as a society have for these different expectations and approaches? In what ways are these justifications and different types of treatment fair and appropriate? In what ways are they unfair and inappropriate? You should incorporate specific examples and help us see how your thinking adds to our understanding of Jackson and/or Byrne.
  • Tufekci and others push for changes in how our data is collected and in the role we play in the conversation. Szymielewicz argues we should be able to work with marketing companies to create a more accurate data profile. Tufekci focuses on the concept of community and argues that we as a community should have more control over our data and more of an ability to benefit from it, for example, through independent researchers. (Morozov makes a similar argument.) Pick an example of a digital community that effectively embodies or fails to embody the values of transparency, respect, shared access, mutual benefit, etc. How does this community work? What structures, processes, or logistics help this community to function effectively or prevent it from doing so? What do we learn from this community? How does it add to our understanding of these authors?

Blog Post 1 – Monday, April 1
This post takes up our recent readings from Heer, Nussbaum, and Chief Elk-Young Bear and Kane. Your blog post should be at least 600 words and should address one of the following prompts. Include embedded content (links, images, videos, tweets, etc.) when relevant.

  • How do you understand the relationship between humor and violence? When does humor serve as an alternative to violence? When does humor encourage violence? When does humor become a form of violence? Do you see evidence of the type of humor Nussbaum and Heer describe online? What examples come to mind for you when you think of humor that covers over violence, that can be dismissed as irony rather than actual violence? You should incorporate specific examples and help us see how your thinking adds to our understanding of Nussbaum and Heer.
  • What do you see as effective approaches to or uses of humor? How can humor be used as a force for good, for critical thinking, for exposing hypocrisy or power structures, for community building, etc.? What does effective humor look like online? You should incorporate specific examples and help us see how your thinking adds to our understanding of Nussbaum and Heer.
  • How do you understand the relationship between harassment (online or offline) and gender? What does harassment of women (cis or trans) and non-binary folks look like, and why is it such a problem? What types of harassment do men (cis or trans) encounter? How does the internet (through social media platforms, news media, digital surveillance, etc.) contribute to or facilitate this harassment? How have institutions (companies, the government, law enforcement agencies, etc.) been helpful or unhelpful in addressing harassment? You should incorporate specific examples and help us see how your thinking adds to our understanding of Chief Elk-Young Bear and Kane.
  • What do you see as effective approaches to social movements, such as those addressing harassment and violence? What makes for an effective social movement in terms of goals, leadership, actions, etc.? How have social movements effectively used digital technologies to advance their causes? You should incorporate specific examples and help us see how your thinking adds to our understanding of Chief Elk-Young Bear and Kane.