I’ve completed a draft version of the syllabus to my new course, Technologies of Friendship. The course is on the books as a CMC course, but I couldn’t resist giving it a less formal name. If you’d like to check out the syllabus, it can be accessed from my new teaching portfolio page.
As I previously discussed, my goal is to make the class interactive, informative and somewhat practical. To that extent, I’ve lightened the reading load in favor of a number of reflective assignments. I hope to do a good bit of hands on/demoing/testing of technologies, as well as bring in a number of guests. I’ll be reflecting on the process here at Unit Structures over the next few months.
Here’s the course description from the syllabus:
The Internet is a place of communication, interaction and relational management. From Ray Tomlinson’s first email in 1971, to the iChats, Wall Posts and Twitters of today, we have consistently turned to this vast network to find one another for communication and collaboration. This course is an exploration of the tools and practices of technologically mediated relationships; that is, why and how do we use network tools to start, build and sustain interpersonal relationships.
The use of technology as a relational intermediary is as old as technology itself. From the earliest inscribed works to the electrified telegraph, technology has played in a role in allowing us to discover, remember and communicate with others. Technology provides us the goods, means and rationale for exchange, and it allows us to imagine the communities we inhabit. Arguably, the Internet is the most profound relational technology, but technology and social process have long been intertwined.
Utilizing interdisciplinary perspectives, we will explore the role networked communications tools play in the relational process. The course will be structured around four thematic areas. They are: Historical Perspectives, Theoretical Concepts, Internet Relationships and Group Dynamics. The first area, historical perspectives, will contextualize our analysis through the exploration of early communication tools and practice. This area will be followed by theoretical concepts, which explores theorization of computer-mediated communication. We will then explore Internet relationships; how we’re using modern technology to mediate our personal relationships. The course will conclude with an analysis of how the Internet enables “ridiculously easy group formation,” in the words of Clay Shirky.
Students who successfully complete this course will develop critical perspectives on networked communication and relational management, better preparing them to develop tools of participation, social support and group collaboration.
If you have any comments, feedback or ideas, please feel free to contribute them in the comment thread.