Assignment Descriptions

Due Dates
A1. Science Fiction Presentation - in class, ongoing
A2. Shot analysis - 11:59pm - Apr 27
A3. DANM MFA Show and write-up - May 7
A4. Operating System analysis or Information type - 11:59pm - May 18
A5. Essay - 11:59pm - June 8 (Decide on Paper topic and discuss with Prof. or TA by May 14)

A1. Science Fiction Presentation
Science Fiction Groups - groups of 5 read different sci fi and these groups present once throughout quarter:
- Group 1: Frankenstein, Mary Shelley :: Presenting on April 16
- Group 2: Time out of Joint, Philip K Dick :: Presenting on April 21
- Group 3: 1984, George Orwell :: Presenting on April 28
- Group 4: Ubik, Philip K Dick :: Presenting on April 28
- Group 5: Neuromancer, William Gibson :: Presenting on May 5
- Group 6: Brave New World, Aldous Huxley :: Presenting on May 12
- Group 7: Dispossessed, Ursula LeGuin :: Presenting on May 19
- Group 8: Mockingjay, Susan Collins :: Presenting on May 19
- Group 8.5: Dream of Glass, Jean Gawron :: Presenting on May 21
- Group 9: Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card :: Presenting on May 28
- Group 10: Snowcrash, Neal Stephenson :: Presenting on May 28
- Group 11: Blood Music, Greg Bear :: Presenting on Jun 2
- Group 12: Dawn, Octavia Butler :: Presenting on Jun 4
- Alternate Group: Dream of Glass

The class will form into 12 groups of 5 and present a science fiction novel at a scheduled point during the quarter. The presentation will correlate with the readings and thinking we do during the quarter, so groups should be especially familiar with the readings due on the day they present. Images, sound, as well as text are welcome in your presentation, which will be held within a simple web page. The questions below should be addressed, and at least 5 of them should be answered in writing on the web page. You are required to draw out at least two quotes from the book to illustrate the nature of the story and to assist in your answering the questions.

- what is the plot of the story, the characters, and the setting, and how do they connect to themes in the class?
- how is information communicated between affinities, in communities? or between enemies? does the form change depending on who is communicating?
- what does information do in your story? how does it function? ie. is it embodied, digital, ethereal, etc., is it free, contingent, secret, or used for power-over?
- does the configuration of technology and info match popular or dominant ideologies or views? describe if yes or no.
- how is technology understood? how does it work with the singular physical body or between collective bodies? is technology hard? soft? wet?
- what is the role of human or alien bodies? are physical bodies foregrounded or diminished? mundane, exoticized or disgusting?
- who benefits and who suffers in the story and why?
- how does class, race, gender and sexuality figure in the story in relation to technology?

A2. Shot analysis
ANALYSIS OF STILL/Moving IMAGES. To correlate with the archive theme. You will select an image (such as an advertising still) or a moving image sequence. The still or sequence must be archival - from the computer history archive or the Prelinger Archive. Image or moving image must foreground a technology in some way. Your choice should lend itself to analysis on the basis of thematics, visuals, striking contrasts that tell you something about the culture in which it was made. Analyze image/sequence in detail using formal analysis. Discuss format, medium and context; from there, describe what meanings or conclusions you have drawn. This example is set forth to demonstrate how to break down a time-based piece, and here and here are examples of image analyses. 750-1000 words. Include image or link to image or video.

A3. DANM MFA Show and write-up
You will attend the DANM MFA Exhibition. The dates are as follows: Reception, Thursday, May 1, 6:00 - 9:00pm, Regular hours 12pm - 5pm on April 26 - 27 and on May 1 - 4, 2014. Look at all the work, and do a 250-500 word essay on your impressions of the work using terms, quotes and references from 136c. Submit via eCommons

A4. Operating System analysis
ANALYSIS OF OPERATING SYSTEM. Your operating system is what manages all the programs and files on your personal computer. It seems invisible to us, and it should, because it is merely there as an interface to our programs. But the operating system belies a number of assumptions, ideologies, beliefs about what a computer is, what software is, and how we should be interacting with it. Using formal techniques used in your still/moving image analysis and presumably new ones, since an operating system interacts with a user, analyze the OS of your computer, describing scenarios of use and your conclusions. You will want to review some of the analysis Galloway provides in Form. Be sure to specify what operating system you are using and please include at least one screen shot. Submit via eCommons.


ANALYSIS OF INFORMATION EXCHANGES. Collect ALL your digital communications from the past 72 hours (you can do longer if you need more data, but not shorter) and list them in a spreadsheet; are they: email, chat, twitter, social network sites, listserves, blogs, text messages and phone/voicemail? make a list of the type of relationships (immediate family member, close friend, aquaintance, etc. - make your own categories if other categories clarifies relationship and medium used). make a list of kinds of conversations and data exchanges you had - were they executables, coordinating a physical meeting, gossip, intimate or ...? Are they short or long? What is the time stamp, can you classify the contexts (from bed, campus, class, cafe) and mood? And then analyze: do certain types of relationships use certain mediums? are certain mediums conducive to certain kinds of exchanges? What kinds of patterns emerge? A truly excellent work will conceive of new categories for classification and analysis in addition to the ones above. Do you see this information as decontextualized? Why or why not? What would the NSA conclude about you? Submit via eCommons

A5. Essay
Your final essay for this class should draw heavily from the main themes of this course, and from the readings, so you don't have to start from scratch in terms of your thinking and research. (Note added 5/20) It is strongly recommended that you use Scalar to write/ document your paper. If you don't use Scalar, paper will be 8-10 pages, double spaced, 12pt serif font (professor's favorite: Georgia). Consider the following prompts (you don't need to follow one of these necessarily, but they may be helpful in developing your topic):

Approach 1: Consider taking an ideology that has threaded throughout the course (like the idea that information is neutral, or that technology equals progress for example) use it to unpack a current instance of new media - or technology that mediates. This could be a technological object, or a societal condition that is imbricated in technology. Remember: ideology makes a set of ideas seem natural when really they are the views of the dominant class, or views that benefit the few when held by the many.
Approach 2: Take a science fiction novel that wasn't read in class and use it to explore and extend ideas and themes of this class. You will want to consider themes of embodiment in relation to media and technology, how time is conceived, and power is handled for instance. It is important you THOROUGHLY engage numerous readings and ideas from class.
Approach 3: Consider a community or society, fictional or real, that is "sculpted" by technology. Describe the specifics of this instance, who benefits and who doesn't, and why.
Approach 4: Track the development of a technology or media format that wasn't discussed in this class, but use the critical and historiographic tools introduced in this class to put it into context. How have certain narratives of progress influenced its development? What ideas about people, society, bodies and machines needed to be in place for the technology to emerge? etc.
Approach 5: Consider the totalizing nature of cybernetics in terms of communications, control and capitalism. If we operate in a potentially detrimental system that thrives and adjusts from positive and negative feedback, is "resistance futile" as the Star Trek Borg proclaim? If so, what are some possibilities for a sustainable future? You might draw on art practices, activist practices, theoretical practices to support your ideas.
Approach 6: Write your own science fiction story that directly engages ideas of this class. It can be fiction, but the characters will refer to readings and ideas of this class, the setting will consist of technologies or systems from the course. The tensions will revolve around ideologies or beliefs that have been unpacked throughout the course. You might envision an anarchist future society organized through protocological networks, or a steampunk world where the telegraph is a hotbed of espionage.... An excellent grade for this approach will be warranted if and only if the story is riddled with demonstrably understood concepts from 136c.

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Submit via eCommons.