New Media

Technology Presentations Tomorrow

Your presentations on an Internet Technology are due tomorrow. You can find the list of topics on the course website.

Your presentation should be short, aim for five to ten minutes. Define your technology and explain what it is, how it works, and why it is important. You may also want to provide an example or two to make the topic more concrete for your audience.

The written part of this assignment should also explain the what, how and why of your topic, but it should take into account that is a written summary not a live, oral presentation. Be sure to maintain appropriate standards for writing and to cite your sources.

To submit your assignment, please share your written assignment with me using the Fordham Google Docs/Drive platform.

I look forward to hearing everyone’s presentations tomorrow.

Computer Chronicle Explains the Internet in 1993

In case you missed it in our class on the “Fundamentals of Digital Media,” take a half-hour to watch this 1993 episode of the public-television series, Computer Chronicles. Episodes are available at the Internet Archive.

As you watch, I wanted to point out that you didn’t need a beard to be on the Internet back then, but it helped.

One of the things that might not be apparent is that this was the landscape of the Internet before the explosion of the World Wide Web. That was to come in the next year. Consider the differences the purpose of the Internet then and now, given that the most popular use of it had not yet become mainstream.

New Media Syllabus Updated due to Storm

Snow in New York

Due to the storm and the attendant class cancellation, I have updated our syllabus. Basically, everything is now happening a week later. The two exceptions are the final paper, due April 30, and the final exam, on May 7.

As I mentioned at our first meeting, for some reason, we had fifteen weekly meetings scheduled this semester instead of the usual fourteen. Even with the cancellation, we will still have a full semester experience.

The updated syllabus is at

Not “Social Media 101”

In our introductory class on Wednesday, I mentioned that we will be critically engaging with and debating contemporary thinking about digital media, which scholars once called “new media” but changed the phrasing to make it more precise.

This class will not teach you how to do effective social media campaigns. Honestly, you can learn that from this Vice article on how to talk down to your audience. Or you can go straight to the source of this criticism.

Instead of teaching you how to “do digital media,” I hope to teach you this semester how to think about digital media.

Happy Birthday, Mouse

On December 9, 1968, Douglas Engelbart, who died earlier this year, demonstrated, for the first time, a few computer technologies that we take for granted today. The Atlantic’s Megan Garber writes:

Engelbart and his team presented for about an hour and 40 minutes. The talk consisted of, among other things, the first public demonstration of a computer mouse. It introduced WYSIWYG editing. It showed off hypertext. It demonstrated the graphical user interface. Engelbart and his colleagues explained these new technologies; they also employed many of them as part of their presentation. (A young Steward Brand acted as one of their camera operators.) For people who had been used to thinking of computers as little more than fancy calculators, the whole thing was fairly mind-blowing.  

Although most people probably use a touch screen to interact with computers, such as smartphones, we still rely heavily on a graphical interface. I would guess that fewer than 5% of current computer users have ever dealt with a command line. We have also adopted navigating from one page to another as an everyday part of our computing experience. The web as we know it wouldn’t be a reality for another twenty-two years.

Speaking of taking things for granted, you can watch a video of this presentation on YouTube.

Final Class

We set aside some time at the end of class for everyone to complete the course evaluations. You can access the evaluations in one of two ways:

Don’t forget that the Final Paper is due on December 6. (No, I didn’t specify a time.) To make it easier for me to process your paper, please follow these three steps:

  1. Email to
  2. Your paper should be a PDF only
  3. The file name of your document should begin with the following eight characters: COMM2500

Also, don’t forget to follow the guidelines on Quotes and Citations. And be mindful of the exact word count: 2,013 words.

Finally, if you missed class today, you missed out on the essay questions that will be on the final exam.

Shirky After Dark

In today’s class, we covered Clay Shirky’s book The Cognitive Surplus and how the Internet has made possible production on a level never before available. In an article from 1999, Shriky actually addressed this issue. He called it “RIP The Consumer, 1990–1999.

For Shirky, the Internet made every consumer a potential producer, thus the passive consumer as we know it would become extinct. Judging from your response to Shirky this week, it seems like many of you would disagree with this techno-utopian artifact from the past decade.

Morozov linked to this article on Twitter last week, and I posted it in last week’s course notes.

Another important aspect of Shirky’s argument is to determine what motivates all this production and all this cognitive surplus. Why are people wasting their time putting this stuff online? He lists two types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. He explains this motivation in a 2010 TED Talk.

If you’ve heard the example of the Israeli day care center, you probably read it in the best-selling book Freakonomics (2005).

Morozov After Dark

At the beginning of class I referenced TED: Ideas Worth Spreading. Although Morozov gave a TED talk and was a TED fellow in 2009, he wrote a scathing review of three books published by TED. The review is worth a read because it’s really less of a book review as much as it is a condemnation of techno-utopianism. 

Aside from governments using internet technology to spy on you, LG has been apparently logging data on the vieweing habits of its owners and sending those logs, without encryption, back to LG’s servers.

Everyone should follow Morozov on Twitter. Here’s one of his recent tweets.

One juicy nugget he uncovered was an article on the death of the consumer by Clay Shirky, who we will read next week.