Writing for Electronic Communities, Fall 2011

Course Description

In this course we will be considering the question: how do contemporary writing technologies and practices cause us to reconsider our definition of writing as well as constructs like audience, identity, originality, authority, ownership, materiality, and collaboration? To answer this question, we’ll be conducting a semester-long collaborative and dynamic study of how people are writing and composing in popular online spaces (such as Facebook and Twitter) as well as observing how people are writing in their real life professional spaces. The study’s conclusions will be informed by our readings, which are on the subjects of Web 2.0; the state of composition in the Internet age, the dissemination and ownership of knowledge; electronic literature, and gaming.

The semester-long study will include observations of how people are writing in their professional and casual spaces. IRB proposals will be completed to ensure research ethics are maintained.

Your final essay will be composed using Google docs and there will be set times during the semester when you are to compose the essay in your groups synchronously. That is, there will be times when all three group members will be writing the essay simultaneously from three different computers as you meet in the same document space. Groups will determine those meeting times. Each group member will compose a series of reflections about the experiences of writing in this collaborative, dynamic, and interactive manner.

We will also be completing a smaller semester-long project: attempting to transform what Google knows and thinks about you so that your search results for a certain set of keywords will be different from the first time to try them to the last time you try them. This experiment will be engaging a theory known as the Filter Bubble, which we’ll be learning about in the second set of Web 2.0 readings. We’ll also be Tumbling and Tweeting throughout the semester.

By the end of the semester you will come away with a more nuanced understanding of the dynamic, interactive, boundary-free, and transitory nature of writing and how external forces are often structuring what counts as knowledge.

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