New Media, Spring 2010


This course explores our inexorable movement from atoms to bits: from media based on the physical (record players, tape recorders, VCRs, newspapers, books, records) — what some would call “dead media” — to that based on the movement of digital information (computers, VR, DVRs, MP3s, etexts, video-on-demand). Both the theoretical and practical will fall under the purview of this course: not only will we examine hypertext, but we will be involved in the construction of our own.

Required Materials


Murray, Janet. Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace
Negroponte, Nicholas. Being Digital
Wardrip-Fruin, Noah and Nick Montfort. The New Media Reader

The assigned book and/or essay(s) should always accompany you to class, as we will make heavy use of it in our daily discussions. Please do not come to class without it: we need the book for class activities, in-class writing, and all aspects of our study. If you do not have your book in-class, you will be counted absent.

Supplementary Documents

At several points throughout the semester, your reading assignments will entail essays that are not in the above texts. These additional readings will be made available to you as PDFs or links. You will need to download them, print them, and bring them to class with you on the day we are covering them in class. Failure to do so will earn you an absence.

Pen and Paper

You should also bring an ink interface of some sort, as well as dead trees on which to take notes. Notes should not only reflect good listening skills, but individual interest in every topic discussed in class. You should not sit in class like you’re watching TV: learning requires active participation.

Networked Devices and Other Stuff

Materials, like cell phones, food, magazines, iPods, etc., should be left in your car. They are not needed for our class and should, therefore, not accompany you. Anything that has the potential to distract you or the class, should not be in class. If I ask you to put away a device, I expect you not to use it and to not bring it to subsequent class meetings. See the Electronic Devices course policy for more.

Rated R

Finally, since class lecture and discussion will often touch on the controversial, this college classroom is not an appropriate place for children. Please leave them at home. Please note that this class will cover mature subject matter: if you are easily offended by discussions of religion, politics, sex, and other adult concerns, you might not enjoy the study of new media at the college level.

Course Policies

Students are held accountable for knowing and practicing each of the course policies. Consider them like the law: the excuse “I didn’t know” will carry no weight. Since these policies are applicable to every course I teach, they are available on a separate page.

As a Macon State College student and as a student in any of my classes, it is your responsibility to read, understand, and abide by the MSC Student Code of Conduct from the MSC Student Handbook (PDF).

Course Requirements

There are three major requirements for New Media, each of which must be successfully completed to pass the course. Assignments are weighed on a point system, depending on their importance. For example, a reading quiz might have 10 points while the final exam might have 200.

Weekly Blog (Recommended)

I recommend that each student keep an online journal, or “blog,” of reactions to lectures, readings, or conversations about the course material. Blogs should further investigate and examine issues from class that interest you about the course material. Blogs may be introspective, biographical, critical, theoretical — using any form of intellectual examination that feels germane. These blogs have the possibility of counting as extra credit at the semester’s end, if you have at least one blog per week for a total of fifteen (15); blogs should have a minimum of 300 words, but I am not too concerned about length, as long as you adequately apply your brain to the issue. Part of the blog assignment will also be commenting on each others’ entries. Directions for setting up your blog will follow.


Three exams will be given that will test your knowledge of the subject matter (texts, lecture material, and vocabulary), your ability to synthesize this material, and your creativity in going beyond the discussion and lecture materials. The exams will include vocabulary, concepts, and interpretation. All exam grades will be based upon objective knowledge of the material, thoroughness, depth of insight, precision, and originality.

Daily Work

Regular class attendance, question posing, Second Life activities, and active participation in classroom and online discussions are required. Participation, effort, and attitude will count significantly in this course, even if your technical proficiency is lacking. Quizzes, other class activities, and homework assignments not explicitly outlined above will be considered daily work.


This schedule represents the ideal outline for our semester, but it is tentative and subject to change. It reflects only an overview of readings and assignments, but does not always indicate other specific class-session assignments or activities. All readings are from The New Media Reader (NMR) unless otherwise stated. PDFs may be downloaded via the New Media group.

01.06.10 Course Introduction

01.13.10 What Is “New Media”?
Murray “Inventing the Medium” (3-12); Manovich “New Media from Borges to HTML” (NMR 13-25); Borges “The Garden of the Forking Paths” (29-34)

01.20.10 The Genesis
Bush “As We May Think” (35-48); Licklider “Man-Computer Symbiosis” (73-82); Wiener “Men, Machines, and the World About” (65-72); Benjamin “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (Weblink)

01.27.10 From Old to New 
McLuhan “The Medium Is the Message” (203-209); Baudrillard “Requiem for the Media” (277-288); Williams “The Technology and the Society” (289-300)

02.03.10 Resistance Is Futile?
Enzensberger “Constituents of a Theory of the Media” (259-275); Boal from Theatre of the Oppressed (339); Nelson from Computer Lib / Dream Machines (301)

02.10.10 Proprietary v. Open Source
Stallman “The GNU Manifesto” (543); Eric Raymond “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” (Weblink); Kurzweil Chapter 1 from The Age of Spiritual Machines (PDF); Screening of RevolutionOS (In-class); Heilemann “The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But The Truth” (Weblink) (Optional Reading)

02.17.10 Exam #1

02.24.10 Hypertext and the World Wide Web
Winner “Mythinformation” (587); Moulthrop “You Say You Want a Revolution? Hypertext and the Laws of Media” (691); Coover “The End of Books” (705); Nelson “Proposal for a Universal Electronic Publishing System and Archive” (443)

03.03.10 Virtuality, Cyberspace, and Second Life
Turkle “Constructions and Reconstructions of Self in Virtual Reality” (PDF); Dibbell “A Rape in Cyberspace” (Weblink); Alter “Is this Man Cheating?” (Weblink); Stephenson from Snow Crash (PDF); Make an account and avatar on Second Life and explore — be able to talk about your experiences in class — email me your avatar’s name before class

03.10.10 Spring Break

03.17.10 From Atoms to Bits
Negroponte Being Digital

03.24.10 Copyright, Copyleft, and Intellectual Property (Why We’re All Criminals)
Lessig from Remix (PDF), read intro, chs. 1-3, 9, 10, and the conclusion

03.31.10 Exam #2

04.07.10 Cyberdrama and NeoNarrative: A Voice for the Digital Age
Murray Hamlet on the Holodeck

04.14.10 Ludology and Convergence
Murray (cont. if necessary); Moulthrop “From Work to Play” (Weblink); Aarseth “Genre Trouble: Narrativism and the Art of Simulation” (Weblink); Jenkins “Game Design as Narrative Architecture” (Weblink)

04.21.10 The Cyborg: Rewriting the Body
Haraway “A Cyborg Manifesto” (515); Hayles “The Life Cycle of Cyborgs” (PDF); Moravec from Mind Children (PDF); Joy “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us” (Weblink)

04.28.10 Spiritual Machines and the Singularity
Kurzweil from The Age of Spiritual Machines, Chapters 10 (PDF), 11 (PDF), 12, and Epilogue (PDF); Bolter and Grushin from Remediation (PDF)

04.30.10 Exam #3 (1-3p)

Course Details

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