WRIT 2650 | Digital Rhetorics | jesse.stommel@du.edu

Here’s what we’ll spend our time doing this quarter. The schedule will evolve as we proceed. Watch regularly for more details, added activities, and stuff might change or move around as our conversation does. Note that there are online activities in place of some class periods.

Week 1: Jan. 1 - 7

Tuesday, January 3, 2pm: Meet in Sturm 435

Thursday, January 5: Online asynchronous (which means use class time or work at your own pace on the stuff below)

First, read:
Ray Bradbury, “The Veldt” (About the Book)
Ray Bradbury, “There Will Come Soft Rains

Then, do some stuff:
1) Sign up for our Discord server, using the invite link I added to Canvas and sent by e-mail. Here's a quick getting started guide for Discord, if you haven't used it. Discord will be an extension of our classroom and where you'll be sharing your work for the course and engaging with the work of your peers.

2) At the time we'd normally be meeting on Thursday this week, make a short (less than a minute) video introducing yourself to us. This can be super simple (shot on your phone, no editing, etc.). Share your video in the #who-are-we channel in Discord.

  • Don’t tell us your major, unless you have a story about it
  • Don’t tell us what you did over the holiday break, unless it involves giant snakes, parachuting, a unicorn, or it will be documented in a viral video
  • Don’t tell us where you grew up, unless you’re going to show pictures
  • Do tell us what moves you, what you care most about
  • Do tell us what you hope to get from taking this course, but only if you can do so in a limerick
  • Do tell us where you are
  • Do give us random facts we can come to know you by
  • Do click here and answer the first would you rather question that catches your eye

To share a video in Discord, upload to YouTube (or any other site where videos live) and share with a link. Or click the little + to the left of the message box in Discord, select a video file you created, and add a title or hello in the message.

3) Watch some of the videos of your peers, respond, add reaction emojis, etc.

4) You'll need a space online to share your work for this course. A couple options: (a) Use your own personal site or blog, if you have one; (b) Sign up for a free account on Medium; (c) Prepare to publish anywhere else (Google Drive, WordPress, Tumblr, etc.), as long as you can post regularly and share your work with the class via hyperlinks. Feel free to leave your full name off of your site (or use a psuedonym).

Week 2: Jan. 8 - 14

Tuesday, January 10, 2pm: Meet in Sturm 435
Watch Lo and Behold (2016) (together in class)

Thursday, January 12, 2pm: Meet in Sturm 435

First, read:
Clay Shirky, “Does the Internet Make You Smarter
Nicholas Carr, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?
“A Vision of Student’s Today”

Then, do some stuff:
1) Publish a post wherever you're doing your work for this course with a tentative response to the question, what is the internet? Draw on the various stuff you’ve read so far. Some stuff to consider: where is the internet? what is not the internet? how many internets are there? what is the internet becoming? is the internet alive? what do you love about the internet? what scares you?

2) The Web likes pictures (and especially GIFs). Add at least one picture to this post and all your other posts. My favorite tool for finding free pictures is Unsplash. Check out their copyright license. I also like Pixabay.

3) Share a link to your post in the #our-work channel on Discord. Read the posts of your peers and add comments. Respond to comments.

4) Begin to think about your first major project, which you'll finish by the end of week 4. In brief, start from scratch and redesign the internet in any medium using only analog tools.

First, think about these questions: What is the internet? How does the internet work? Where does the internet live? Who lives there? What is the internet for?

Then, read around, skim, browse Small Pieces Loosely Joined by David Weinberger. Start by glancing at the preface and chapter 1, but click around the site for the book. It offers one theory of what the web is.

More importantly, though, think about what the web is for you.

Now, working on your own or with a group, use only analog tools, like fingers, paper, scissors, mechanical (not digital) tools to represent, reassemble, reimagine the internet. Your work can be interactive or static, 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional, a conceptual map or a more literal one. Then, you'll remediate your work back into digital space by taking photograph(s) or video of it.

Week 3: Jan. 15 - 21

Tuesday, January 17, 2pm: Meet in Sturm 435
Watch Wall-E (2008) (together in class)

Thursday, January 19, 2pm: Snow Day

Douglas Eyman, Defining and Locating Digital Rhetoric
Preface and Ch. 1 from Small Pieces Loosely Joined

Week 4: Jan. 22 - 28

Tuesday, January 24, 2pm: Meet in Sturm 435. Discuss Wall-E, passages from Small Pieces Loosely Joined, and Ray Bradbury stories
Thursday, January 26, 2pm: Meet in Sturm 435. Discuss Mod and Weing, workshop drafts of Rebuild the Internet project

Craig Mod, “Books in the Age of the iPad”
Weing, “Pup Ponders the Heat Death of the Universe”

Do some stuff:
The art of the animated GIF
1) Instructions for making a GIF.
2) There are also apps and some online tools you can use to make a GIF. Just Google something like “make a GIF"

Week 5: Jan. 29 - Feb. 4

Tuesday, January 31, 2pm: Online asynchronous. Start by watching The Great Hack (on your own). Then, see below.
Thursday, February 2, 2pm: Meet in Sturm 435. Discuss The Great Hack.
Before class, share a finished version of your Rebuild the Internet project in the #our-work channel on Discord. And, optionally, bring the unremediated version with you to class.

First, read and watch:
The Great Hack (Netflix)
Howard Rheingold, “Smart Mobs”
Zeynep Tufekci, “We’re building a dystopia just to make people click on ads”

Then, do some stuff:
1) Find at least one other piece (an article, work of art, video, etc.) about social media that you think would be useful for our group to look at. Share a link in the #general channel on Discord with a sentence saying why folks should read it.
2) Publish a post wherever you're doing your work for this course. Respond in some way to one or all of the readings for this week. Share a link to your post in the #our-work channel on Discord.
3) Then respond to posts from your peers. Look for posts with no comments. And continue the discussions started on your own post.

Week 6: Feb. 5 - 11

Tuesday, February 7, 2pm: Discuss readings about ChatGPT
Thursday, February 9, 2pm: Watch M3gan (together in class)

We’ll take a bit of a breather this week, so you can take time to think about and work on your midterm self-reflection. But there’s some recommended reading that might help as you think about how to evaluate your work for the course.

First, read:
Some of these might by paywalled. So read what you can, where you can.
Chronicle of Higher Education: “Teaching Experts Are Worried About ChatGPT, but Not for the Reasons You Think”
John Warner, “How About We Put Learning at the Center? The ongoing freak-out about ChatGPT sent me back to considering the fundamentals
Ian Bogost, "ChatGPT Is Dumber Than You Think"
Experiment with ChatGPT
Other Resources and AI Writing Tools

Then, if you haven't already, respond to the work of your peers in the #our-work channel.

Then, write your self-reflection:
Write a self-reflection by the end of the week (click the link here). Read some or all of this stuff, as you think about your self-reflection: Nancy Chick's “Metacognition”, Alfie Kohn's “The Case Against Grades”, and/or Audrey Watters's “The Web We Need to Give Students”.

Week 7: Feb. 12 - 18

Tuesday, February 14, 2pm: Think about and plan final project.
Thursday, February 16, 2pm: Discuss M3gan and fill out syllabus for weeks 9 and 10. Some topics we could explore: watch Catfish and talk about digital identity, watch Blade Runner and/or read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, talk about the dark web, play and discuss Limbo or Inside and play with game-making tools, learn some coding and write code{poems}, or whatever else we come up with together in class.

Begin thinking about your Final Project:
For the final project, you will work as an individual or group with a deceptively simple prompt: do something on the web about the web. You can use any of your previous posts or assignments as a jumping off point. At the end of the semester, you’ll share a link to your project or pictures of your project. And you’ll document your process (with a short video, text, and/or a series of images). You’ll share your work in the #our-work channel on Discord.

Week 8: Feb. 19 - 25

Tuesday, February 21, 2pm: Discuss Terms of Service and ideas for final project
Thursday, February 23, 2pm: Watch Citizen4 (together in class)

First, read:
Medium Terms of Service (be sure to click through and compare to their previous Terms of Service)
ChatGPT Privacy Policy
NPR, “Do You Read Terms Of Service Contracts? Not Many Do, Research Shows”
Inside Edition, “Social Experiment Proves That No One Really Reads Terms and Conditions”
Terms of Service; Didn’t Read

Then, do some stuff:
(1) Publish a post wherever you're doing work for the course (in any genre: text, video, sound, image).
* Respond in some way to one or all of the readings for this week.
* Write a parody Terms of Service or Privacy Policy.
* Follow some or all of the steps here or here. Write a post about what you did, why you did it, and what you discovered along the way.

2) Share a link to your post in the #our-work channel on Discord. Read the posts of your peers and add comments. Respond to comments.

Week 9: Feb. 26 - Mar. 4

Tuesday, February 28, 2pm: Catfish (watch together in class)

Thursday, March 2, 2pm:
Ruha Benjamin, Podcast: “The New Jim Code? Race and Discriminatory Design
Julian Baggini, Ted Talk: Is there a real you?
Krystal D'Costa, "Catfishing: The Truth About Deception Online"
"Could AI swamp social media with fake accounts?"

Optional Fun with Coding:
Start by working through several lessons on Codecademy. I particularly recommend the first couple sections in this “JavaScript” course and/or the first few sections in “HTML/CSS”.

  1. Then, write a poem in code using JavaScript and/or HTML. Your code should be both human readable and machine readable. It doesn’t have to accomplish much when compiled (i.e. read by a computer), but it must accomplish something. But consider the text of the code itself the “poem.” Click around this site for some examples. Or here are some more.
  2. For reference, here is a page with sample JavaScript, showing some code and what results from that code. Here is a page with sample HTML, showing some code and what results from that code.
  3. Test your code. If you’re coding in JavaScript, you can test your code here. If you’re coding in HTML, you can test your code here.

Week 10: Mar. 5 - 11

Tuesday, March  7, 2pm: Blade Runner (watch together in class)

Thursday, March 9, 2pm:
Daniel Miessler, “The Internet, the Deep Web, the Dark Web”
Juan Sanchez and Garth Griffin, “Who’s Afraid of the Dark? Hype Versus Reality on the Dark Web” (note that this is published by a security company, so it's worth reading about them and considering potential bias)
(Optional): “The Dark Web: What is it exactly and how do you get there?”

Week 11: Mar. 12 - 17

We will not meet in person this week. Instead, you'll share your final project and finish your final self-reflection.

Wednesday, Mar. 15: Share final project in the #our-work channel in Discord. Respond to the work of your peers.

Friday, Mar. 17: Click here to finish your final self-reflection