This OOPS course begins on Monday August 29. It introduces you to the practice of contemporary history, the history of the future, and the emerging field of Internet Studies. We will explore networked lives through films, fiction, creative non-fiction and critical readings that examine digital culture and virtual relationships. Weekly topics address how technology creates new identities, new relationships, new forms of work and new ways of understanding the world around us, while at the same time responding to human aspirations, pleasures, and needs that long predate the Internet.

Central questions include: Is it possible to share our intellectual and emotional lives with machines that think? Why does it matter to imagine a future that is different from the present? Does technology change what it means to be human? What is the meaning of free choice when our communications, desires and thoughts are all potentially being mediated through and monitored by technology? How might we understand a “humanities practice” in a post-human world?

Be part of the discussion! You will be invited to respond in the comments of our weekly OOPS posts (look for our course logo, Nyan Cat); for live updates and video, you may follow our course Facebook and  Twitter hashtag (course number + the designated week; for example: #ulec2850w1.) You are invited to follow us live on Twitter from 2:00 to 3:15 every Monday from August 29 through December 12. Please note: there is no class on Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah. 

All movies are available on Amazon Video, and except for the two books, all readings are available — you guessed it! — on the Internet.

Week 1 | August 29 | Introduction to Internet Studies

No Class | September 5 | Labor Day

Week 2 | September 12 | Imagining Cyberfutures

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (Dir. Stanley Kubrick, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1968)

Week 3 | September 19 | Getting Connected

  • We Live in Public (Ondi Timoner, Interloper Films, 2009)
  • Peter Thiel, “The Online Privacy Debate Won’t End With Gawker,” The New York Times (August 15, 2016)
  • Dave Eggers, “We Like You So Much and Want to Know You Better,” an excerpt from The Circle (New York: Vintage Books, 2014) published in The New York Times Magazine (September 22 2013.)
  • Stewart Brand, “We Owe It All to the Hippies,” Time Magazine, SPECIAL ISSUE, Spring 1995 Volume 145, No. 12; and Tom Peters, “The Brand Called You,” Fast Company (August 31, 1997)
  • Julia Greenberg, “Why Helping the Poor Pay for Broadband Is Good For Us All,” Wired (May 21, 2015)
  • Sam Leith, “From Teledildonics to Interactive Porn,” The Guardian (June 6, 2014)
  • Howard Rheingold, “What the WELL’s Rise and Fall Tells Us About Online Community,” The Atlantic July 6, 2012)

Week 4 | September 26 | Computerized Selves 

  • WarGames (Dir. John Badham, United Artists/UAA Films, 1983)
  • Hamza Shaban, “Playing War: How the Military Uses Video Games,” The Atlantic (October 10, 2013)
  • Mark Brown, “Life as a US Drone Operator” The Guardian (July 28, 2013) and
  • Taylor Glascock, “Hipster Barbie is So Much Better at Instagram than You,” Wired (September 3, 2015)
  • James Fallows, “Living with a Computer,” The Atlantic (July, 1982)
  • Nick Paumgarten, “Looking for Someone: Sex, Love and Loneliness on the Internet,” The New Yorker, (July 4, 2011)
  • Emily Bazelon, “How to Stop the Bullies,” The Atlantic (March, 2013)

No Class | October 3 | Rosh Hashanah
Week 5 | October 10 | In Love With Machines

  • Ian Bogost, The Geek’s Chihuahua: Living With Apple

Week 6 | October 17| Is Life Different On the Internet?
Week 7 | October 24 | Cyberpunks

  • The Matrix (Dir. Larry and Andy Wachowski, Warner Brothers, 1999)
  • Katherine Losse, The Boy Kings: A Journey Into the Heart of the Social Network (chapters 1 & 2), 1- 59.

Week 8 | October 31 | Hacker Culture

  •  The Social Network(Dir. David Fincher, Columbia Pictures 2010)
  • Katherine Losse, The Boy Kings: A Journey Into the Heart of the Social Network, (chapters 3, 4 and 5), 60-118.

 Week 9 | November 7 | iPolitics

  •  Michael Barbaro, “Pithy, Mean and Powerful: How Donald Trump Mastered Twitter for 2016,” The New York Times (October 5, 2015)
  •  Mark Karlin, “Aaron Swartz’s Quest to Keep Corporations from Privatizing the Internet,” truthout (January 3, 2016)
  • Doug Gross, “Why Can’t Americans Vote Online?” com (November 8, 2011)
  • Bruce Handy, “What’s Wrong with Anthony Weiner? We Asked Some Psychotherapists,” Vanity Fair (May 24, 2016)
  • Sam Sanders, “Instagram: The New Political War Room?” NPR Morning Edition (September 3, 2015)

 Week 10 | November 14 | Internet Ethics

  • Catfish (Dir. Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman: Universal Pictures, 2010) 

Week 11 | November 21 | Relationships

  •  Her (Dir. Spike Jonze, Warner Brothers 2013)
  • Katherine Losse, The Boy Kings: A Journey Into the Heart of the Social Network (chapters 6 and 7), 119- 177.

 Week 12 | November 28 | Resistance

  • #chicagoGirl: The Social Network Takes on a Dictator (Dir. Jason Banker, Amplify Releasing 2015)
  • Bijan Stephan, “Social Media Helps Black Lives Matter Fight the Power,” Wired (November 2015)
  • Robert Mackey, “Social Media Fame Shields Dissidents, Until it Doesn’t,” The Intercept (May 13, 2016)

Week 13 | December 5 | Internet Dystopias

  •  CitizenFour(Dir. Laura Poitras, HBO Films, 2014.)
  • Katherine Losse, The Boy Kings: A Journey Into the Heart of the Social Network (chapters 8 and 9), 178-230.

 Week 14 | December 12 | Are Internet Relationships Real?

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