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web ethics
publishing problems and prospects

a syllabus in progress:
always the latest at:

lead by Justin Hall

The Internet stands to be an immense force in both personal and professional communications. How does it differ from other media?

More than publishing, this class examines the current future of the Internet, specifically the World Wide Web, in commercial and communal, individual and institutional expression. We will consider inclusion, voice, politics, economics, ethics, education through the study of existing web sites, as well as relevant print texts.

Participants will be trained in the basics of web site design and production. Writing assignments are due most weeks, often in the form of a web page.

This course will develop both critical and creative skills for evaluating and interpreting online media. Beyond examining existing examples, students synthesize the material in an ongoing web site, reflecting their conception of online expression.
The first week or so will be spent developing the basic skills of online research and design.

Subsequent classes will explore particular avenues of computer mediated communication, both personal and institutional.

Weekly writings will be read and reviewed by the class. In addition, consider this syllabus tentative; additional materials to be suggested by the participants, and folks will be asked to take responsibility for leading exploration of a particular aspect of the curriculum.

Print texts for the class:
Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud
concerning visual perception and visual narrative design
Resisting the Virtual Life, edited by James Brook and Iain A. Boal
a collection of essays examining computer ethics (or the lack thereof).
Life on the Screen, Sherry Turkle
exploring the multiple personality potential of the digital age.
Virtual Community, Howard Rheingold
what are the new online communities?
Additional conceptual material will be drawn from the web, case studies, sites supplied by the group.

After reading and discussion, students will be expected to perform web work exploring the week's format and issues, as well as a web based final project synthesizing the breadth of online expression explored.

By the end of the term, students will have a sense of the current state and future potential of online media. The breadth of material surveyed will equip them with context otherwise lacking in random websurfings. They will be prepared to analyse and evaluate online expression, moreover, they will be equipped to implement their visions.

Class will meet twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8.30am.
first class, browse the readings and discuss
weekend between
second class, explore assignments and discuss

basic skills of online design

how to make a page, scan pictures, record sounds
site structure, thoughtful user-interface design. Toolbars, navigational aids.


Web Publishing Tutorial
site structure


create a web page.

basic skills of online research

how to search for stuff on the sprawl


Alta Vista/Lycos/OpenText/InfoSeek


Pick a topic, area of interest and create a critical resource list for it

individual versus institutional

How level is the playing field?

Does the potential proliferation of personal expression differentiate the web from any other medium? What have folks done with this opportunity? How important, useful is personal media?


zeen scene
why the web?, Justin Hall
Forging Culture, Justin Hall
Publishing Empowerment, Justin Hall
How have traditional mass media adapted to the medium? What is professionally transmitted?


Suck, New Media Autopsy
Time Life's Pathfinder
Howard Rheingold's Brainstorms

anonymous versus Foxy!


how is each compelling, useful, important?


How are sites united? Character conveyed? Cartoons versus human agents. Icons versus agents/avatars.

How can an agent guide a navigation experience? How do we react to non-human coercive characters?


Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud
Characters in the Interface by Mark "Spoonman" Petrakis
Abbe Don's Links
Skim: quickly: Vividness and Source of Evaluation as Determinants of Social Responses Toward Mediated Representations of Agency, by Jonathan Steuer
Sonic's Mac User Interface

Zima: Fridge
Chester Cheetah: FritoLay
MicroSoft: What about Bob? - who do agents represent?
NetScape: Mozilla - agents aren't professional?


Envision an agent. Apply to existing pages.

interactive/non-linear narrative

exploring interactive narrative, as well as print narrative that approaches online/nonlinearity
organzing principle time or place or character or all of the above, how to design within interactive space to encourage flow versus wandering, importance of linearity of story/time


Realms - browse this one on a fast connection
Vita, Justin Hall
huhebi - the extreme
No Soup, Just Matzo Balls, Abbe Don


Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut
Beloved, Toni Morrison
Death of Salesman, Arthur Miller
short story: Donald Barthleme, "Oh to London and Rome"
Abbe Don adds her sense
other suggestions from Mary Dilg
and one from gabby


pulp fiction


Nonlinear Narrative Styles, by Michael St. Hippolyte


write or adapt a story for nonlinear narrative

life stories

how does personal truth transmit online? does this come across any better than music videos? questions of linearity, professionalism, honesty/anonymity, privacy, use. Also, where does one person's site end and their life begin? - some mushier than others.


I am Julie..., Julie Petersen and autobio, Patrick Sean Farley
Walter Miller's Home Page and Carl
Autobio, Justin Hall and Justin's Life, Justin Clouse - how much is too much? coherent/followable?
surf on a fast connection:
thespot, Virtual Dorm, Ferndale - compelling? interactive?
other people, Yahoo: Diaries versus Yahoo: Episodic Web Series


share a few stories of your own.

visual arts

how are the visual arts being transmitted? what is lost, what is cool?
how is visual art segmented/integrated from the whole site?
authenticity/originality of digital reproduction?
file size?


Pixel Theater
HotWired:Renaissance - Gallery
Art on the Net
Virtual Gallery
Eye Candy - further links


pick some of your art, or a friends, make a web gallery.

envisioning education

what is the potential? what are the drawbacks?


Swarthmore Math Forum
The students of Leon James
NetDay '96
Teaching Technology, Howard Rheingold
Syllabi Showcase, Tim Burke
Williams, Amherst and Swarthmore
Willams Students and Swarthmore Students
hoffman and novak
Swarthmore Web Vision, Justin Hall
af am rel


take one of your other classes, or a class of your own design, and put the materials online.

commodifying communication

What is appropriate, conductive, compromising? Marketplace of ideas? A good thing? Something else?
exchanging privacy for infotainment?


Hot 100 WebSites
The Medium is the Market, Howard Rheingold interviews Donna Hoffman
The Future of Internet Commerce, Dr. Marvin Sirbu
Suck New Media Autopsy
Idea Futures
Digital Cash, I am not my habits, Kickin' it Freestyle, Justin Hall
FreeRide and Juno
c-net's DREAM (Delivery of Real-Time Enhanced Advertising Messages)
DigiCash, Inc. and First Virtual
Hotwired Coin


Build a model for appropriate online solicitation
Explore the propriety of pecuniary publishing

integrating the voiceless

who is being left off? and who are we to say? what would they want with the internet anyway? isn't this electronic colonialism?
would non-white non-male non-techno saturated folk find this a meaningful way to communicate?


Plugged In
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Native Americans on the Net, Howard Rheingold
Using Computers in Low-Income Schools, Howard Rheingold
Rainbow Net
Latino Link, NetNoir
Community Connections
Stop Prisoner Rape, Inc., Kensington Welfare Rights Union


decide if this is a worthwhile enterprise
if so,
find a pocket of online presence of the otherwise disenfranchised
design a means of wiring the unwired
create a proof of concept for a site to share the wealth

digital democracy

Information and discussion - do they enhance democracy? In an electronic arena? Can there be too much free speech? What is the government's role?


Virtual Community, Howard Rheingold
Universal Access to E-Mail, Rand Corporation
Utopian Promises - Net Realities, Critical Arts Ensemble
Communication is Political, Howard Rheingold
Your Voices Count, Howard Rheingold
Non-Intrusive Community Content Control, Brian Behlendorf
California State Government Online
Voter's Telecommunications Watch
Book of Ideas

virtual community

how are we reproducing life online? should we? can we? How does the web medium encourage/hinder community?


Life on the Screen, Sheri Turkle
Will the Web Evolve Communities?, Are Virtual Communities Harmful?, Virtual Communities Get Real, Howard Rheingold
Virtual Worlds Resources
MUD/Muse/Moo info and MUD resource collection
rooms (@go #):
tburke1/moshweshwe: #73827
sonic/saralinda: #15220
imf: #44270
justin/fusty: #78924
Social Cafe
the Well
three newsgroups of students choice


write an exploration:
what is cool/cold about life online

humanity/falling short

where does online space/computer creation fail? is it intangible, or rectifyable?


Resisting the Virtual Life, James Brook and Iain A. Boal
get a life.
Computer-mediated communication and college student development


what is for you lacking in the online experience
design a scenario or artistic creation that bridges the gap, approaches the problem, the undefineable.


No test, a final project, on the web. Pick a topic from one of the last few weeks, or something to suits you and the group, and build a web site that reflects your vision.

general bibliography

Howard Rheingold's Tomorrow
Critical Art Ensemble
Lewis Mumford's "The Myth of The Machine"
Joseph Weizenbaum's "Computer Power and Human Reason"
Leon James
Justin's Internet Evangelism
HTML Writers Guild
"Age of the Techno-Toddlers" by Mark Slouka. It was in the 8/13 /95 edition of the SD Union Tribune.

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