Taught September 2015 to December 2015
The Internet is often described in binary terms: as an unmitigated good promising positive social change, or a place of great danger that enables unparalleled amounts of both surveillance and bad behavior. Charting a route between these poles, this course explores the Internet through a close attention to its materiality and history. Topics include the intersection of the state, corporations, the military, and academia in the Internet's construction; the formation of identity; representations of gender, race, class, and ethnicity; artistic interventions; the role of free software movements and hacking; legal questions; changes in commerce; and forms of participatory media. Important to our investigation is an experience with the Internet-as-material; as such, we will conduct exercises that explore the technical makeup of the Internet (no prior technical knowledge necessary). The course will show how the technical and social dimensions of the Internet mutually constitute each other.