The Network Society
Description & Objectives
Digital technologies, networked communication and online platforms have transformed how we interact with each other, how media companies operate, how knowledge and content is produced and distributed, and how decision-making is organized. But what does actually change when contents are searched and shared online? And what do authors talk about when they describe the implications of datafication, algorithmization or the platformization for e.g. news use, the visibility of actors or media regulation? In order to understand the role of media technologies and of ICTs in current societies, in this course the following topics are discussed: characteristics and functions of networked communication, platforms and current platform ecosystem; content moderation; the role of algorithms and algorithmic choices; the role of personal public spheres; search engines and knowledge production and the role of data and datafication.
The main aim of the course is the development of critical-analytical skills that are necessary
- to understand trends and changes in current media environments and media economies
- to critically assess academic and media discourses about these shifts.
Moreover, the course contributes to the development of scientific writing skills.
Contents, Teaching style & Assignements
In the course we will discuss
- relationships of media change and socio-cultural & political change
- characteristics, functions and constraints of platforms
- current platform ecosystems
- mechanism of content moderation
- characteristics of algorithms and algorithmic choices
- choices of unfriending in personal public spheres
- search engines and knowledge production
- data, datafication and their uses
Lectures will be based on input presentations by the course instructors. However, the teaching style is based on a dialogic and interactive setting. Therefore, you are asked to read the mandatory texts and to actively participate in discussions in class.
Starting from the session of October 22, 2019, the input presentations and discussions of theoretical terms and concepts will be complemented by inputs of student ‘expert teams’. The class will therefore be divided in teams.
During the semester, you and your group members will then develop a short case presentation, a poster and poster presentation and a thematic paper together.
For the discussion in class, you prepare a short presentation (not more than 10-15 minutes).
Session with these presentations are marked with a * in the plan below. In this presentation, you present an exemplary practical case related to the overall topic and the theroretical concepts discussed in the respective session (e.g. taken from media coverage). Please discuss and confirm your case selection with the professor beforehand.
Apart from this practical input, you will also be the expert team for one or few key concept(s) taken form the mandatory readings. In each session we will particularly focus on one or few key concept(s) and approaches. In December, two sessions (December 3 and December 10) are dedicated to connecting and these concepts and terms. For these two sessions, your team will be asked to prepare a poster (A1 or A0) and a short poster presentation (3 minutes max) in which you summarize and explain ‘your’ theoretical concept(s) in a creative way.
Finally, you will do a short write-up of your presentation which will be your thematic paper. In this paper, you briefly summarize, explain and discuss the theoretical concept(s)/term(s) you were assigned to. Apart from the mandatory readings, please use at least three more references in your texts to provide an in-depth explanation of the theoretical concepts you are dealing with.
All thematic papers will be finally combined into a course script that is put on iCorsi to help you prepare for the final exam.
Deadline for paper submissions: December 10, 2019, 12:00 am. Please also check the paper guidelines below for further formal details.
Written exam + assignments
Evaluation will be based on the team activities during the semester (short case presentation, poster and poster presentation, thematic paper, 30%) and on the written exam (70%). The written exam will consist of 4-5 open ended questions. To successfully pass the course it is mandatory to pass both, the group tasks and the final written exam.
Thematic papers (written poster summary)
- Contents: Briefly summarize, explain and discuss “your” terms. Use at least three more references to further explore them.
- Languague and style: Papers are written in English language. Use your own words! You can use selected and clearly marked direct quotations, but avoid to copy-paste from the original texts.
- Length: 1000 words, including headings and references.
- Reference Style: Please use APA 6th edition reference style.
- Font: Use Times New Roman, 12 pt, 1.5 line spacing.
Deadline for paper submissions: December 10, 2019, 12:00 am.
The mandatory texts are provided on iCorsi. Please check the program in order to prepare the readings for the respective sessions.
|17.09.||Introduction: Contents, teaching goals & course organization|
|24.09.||What kind of change? Approaches to describe the implications of media change|
|01.10.||How to describe the society we live in? From "Network society" to “Platform society” I|
|08.10.||How to describe the society we live in? From "Network society" to “Platform society” II|
|15.10.||Features and constraints: Affordances or what platforms do (not) allow us to do|
|22.10. *||They are all (inter)dependent: The platform ecosystem
van Dijck, J., Poell, T., & de Waal, M. (2018). The platform society. Public values in a connective world. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (pp. 7-30).
|29.10. *||Invisible recipes for task solving: Algorithms
Bucher, T. (2018). If...Then. Algorithmic power and politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (pp. 1- 15)
Fry, H. (2018). Hello world. How to be human in the age of the machine. London: Penguin Random House. (pp. 5-24).
|05.11. *||Hiding things we do not want to see: Content moderation
Gillespie, T. (2018). Regulation of and by platforms. In J. Burgess, A. Marwick, & T. Poell (Eds.),
The SAGE handbook of social media (pp. 254-278). London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi, Singapore: Sage.
|12.11.||Hiding people we do not want to see: Unfriending in personal public spheres
(Guest lecture Nicholas John)
John, N. A., & Gal, N. (2018). “He’s got his own sea”: Political Facebook unfriending in the personal public sphere. International Journal of Communication, 12, 2971-2988.
|19.11. *||Show me what matters: Search engines and knowledge
Halavais, A. (2018). Search engine society. Cambridge, Medford: Polity Press. (pp. 133-150)
|26.11. *||Treasured resources: Data traces and datafication
Humphreys, L. (2018). The qualified self. Social media and the accounting of everyday life. Cambridge, London: MIT Press. (pp. 1-28)
|03.12.||Poster Session - Connecting concepts and terms|
|10.12.||Poster Session - Connecting concepts and terms – Deadline for papers|
|17.12.||Wrap-up & feedback|
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