76.478 L02 The Anthropology of Cyberspace
Slot E2 (Tuesday 7:00-10:00 PM)
(Selected Topics in Cultural Anthropogy)
Instructor: B. E. Schwimmer
303 St. Paul's College, x6651
Over the past five years, the Internet has been transformed from a arcane
communication system for the military and scientific elite to a massively
popular medium. Its phenomenally rapid growth will shortly make it as common
as the telephone or TV set as a household appliance. While the spread of
these older media have had many important consequences for contemporary
life, the Internet has introduced a much more powerful and versatile communication
and information infrastructure that some social theorists believe will
have a revolutionary impact on societies across the globe. In this course
we will consider current and emerging trends in the development of "cyberspace"
from an anthropological perspective and chart the social and cultural dimensions
of its growth and influences. We will be especially interested in the looking
and the contexts of the international order, the workplace, the community,
and the political arena.
Smith and Kollock, Communities in Cyberspace
1. Annotated bibliography. Chose a major issue in the anthropology
of cyberspace and prepare an annotated bibliography of printed and on-line
information sources. Publish your report on the course web-site. (20%) Due
date - April 6.
2. Seminar Report. Lead a seminar on the issue you identified for assignment
3. Final exam (40%)
Theoretical issues: technology,
society, and culture.
What is the general relationship between technology and culture and how do
changes in one area influence the other? What are the specific
implications of communications technology and infrastructure? Has there
been an information revolution?
Lab session. Introducing the Internet.
The history of the Net.
The Net and the international order
What countries have pioneered the development of the Internet and which
ones are lagging behind?
What will be the effect of Internet development on have and have not
What will be the implications of the "digital divide" among the members
of the same society
UND, Human Development Report 1999
The Net economy and work: restructuring the corporation and the nature
What is the role of the Internet in new developments in corporate structure
and global competition?
How has telework spread and what are its implications for employment,
worker satisfaction, and labour organization.
The Net as "virtual" community.
What is the character of groupings of people that form on-line? Are
they real communities?
Castels: Chapter 6
The Net in the wider community.
What will be the effect of growing on-line facilities and resources
on traditional communities and "civil society" in general?
Castels: Chapter 7
What codes and values have emerged to regulate and colour the character
of digital communication sysems.
Castels: Chapter 5
The Net and political participation
How will on-line political mobilization, participation, and organization
affect the democratic processes in contemporary governments?
The Net in education and academia
Additional readings will be posted as web links on the course web site.
Other topics will be determined according to the interest of the students
in the course.