How our class works:
First off, we organize it as a research group, not a class.
So, instead of a syllabus we have a research schedule.
The research schedule is editable at any time by anybody involved in the project.
All edits are (almost) instantly reported at our Netvibes research hub via RSS.
The hub also includes a Yahoo Pipe combining the feeds from each of the 15 students’ blogs.
There is a second Yahoo Pipe that combines all the comment feeds from those blogs as well.
To the right, we have a feed from our Diigo group, which we use to share links and notes on the web.
The course is entirely purpose-driven, so it does not have much of the traditional structure typically provided by a syllabus, but it is (loosely) structured.
The basic format is this:
- First 3 weeks: exploration stage
- Second 3 weeks: guided introduction to the field
- Next 4 weeks: self-guided research
- Due at 11th week: Research paper (followed by collaboration exercises)
- Final (16th week): Share with world (video, website, etc.)
Students keep a blog throughout, and do most of their “assignments” as blog posts.
The exploration stage begins with the “94 Articles” activity, allowing us to cover a good chunk of the literature in our research area.
During the exploration stage, students are also making video “trailers” which are ultimately all put together into one single “course trailer”
At the same time, students are preparing for the self-guided research stage by writing their research proposals.
The research proposals are edited and collated together on the wiki to form the Course Research Proposal, representing our goals as a research group.
Students then work toward writing a research paper on their piece of the project. To clarify their own piece, we talk quite a bit about our KYHOIs (Knock Your Head Off Ideas) of which each student should be able to name at least one that is central to their project.
They use material from their work to help create the class research paper using Google Docs (work in progress below).
This process helps us:
- see how our projects are related
- find holes in our overall argument
- see all the big ideas we have entertained throughout the semester coming together to create something beyond that which any single one of us could have created
Students have just submitted their first video drafts, which you can see on their blogs. They will do 2 more drafts before the final video is due.
The videos will be further edited over the coming months (year?) into one final documentary, similar to the Anthropological Introduction to YouTube project (the end result of the previous 2 semesters of this course). We will probably also try to publish our collaborative paper.
What this project is all about:
Exploring how self-awareness and self-experience are shaped by new media.
We know ourselves through our relations with others.
Our relations with others are mediated by media.
Therefore, new media create new ways of knowing ourselves.
Twitter example: What are you (really) doing? A: exploring new ways of connecting with others, and therefore new ways of knowing yourself
4chan is especially interesting because of the default setting of anonymous posting
Collectively, anonymous posters form the “group” Anonymous.
They are like the primordial ooze of the internet, from which so much of internet culture is born (LOLcats, etc.)
They even have their own language,
with (sometimes deep and philosophical) sayings and proverbs that help define who “they” “are”.
They are most famous for trolling for LULZ …
and their protests of Scientology.
Fox News calls them “hackers on steroids”
But they are not really even a “they” … As Chris Landers of the Baltimore Sun has noted, they are only a group “in the sense that a flock of birds is a group … they’re traveling in the same direction. At any given moment, more birds could join, leave, peel off in another direction entirely.”
They sometimes say that they seek “permanent destruction of the identification role”
In Second Life they have been implicated in the flying penis attack on Ansche Chung and the attack on John Edwards.
They find e-celebrity disturbingly hyper-individualistic, and subvert it through mockery, ultimately creating e-celebrities out of Tay Zonday, Boxxy, and others.
They promise to subvert anybody who takes themselves too seriously, creating the Duck Roll (and later the Rick Roll) for the purpose.
In sum, they are a fascinating study for an anthropologist because they subvert all our traditional categories of study: most notably those of “group” and “identity” – forcing us to rethink exactly what it is we think we are doing and how we should approach the life of these crazy primates we call humans now that dez trolling d’ 1nternetz.