Digital Media Composing
“Modern technology is no more neutral than medieval cathedrals…it embodies the values of a particular industrial civilization, especially those of elites that rest their claims to hegemony ontechnical mastery”—Andrew Feenberg,
Critical Theory of Technology
“Why do you love me? Why do you need me? Always and forever. We met in a chatroom, nowour love can fully bloom. Sure the World Wide Web is great, but you, you make me salivate. Ilove technology, but not as much as you, you see…But I still love technology, always andforever.”—Kip Dynamite
What does it mean to participate in democracy in the twenty-first century? Whether it’s AIDS patients struggling for their right to participate in drug trials, arguments about Internet neutrality,or protests against ambient tracking technologies and phonetaps—technology matters in ademocracy. Of course technology has
mattered to democracy—from the architecturaldesign of the Greek Agora, to the saboteurs of the automated loom in 15
century Holland, tothe development of the American military industrial complex under Vannevar Bush and FranklinRoosevelt. More and more, however, academics, designers, and consumers alike have becomeaware that to participate in democracy directly one has to participate in technology.
The goal of this course, then, is to gain the skills necessary to be technologically literate in thetwenty-first century. But in doing so, we will be constantly challenging what technologicalliteracy means and, thus, constantly exploring the idea that technology is both a set of things, aset of skills, and a set of values—or, as new media theorist Henry Jenkins explains, “A mediumis a technology that enables communication; on the second, a medium is a set of associated protocols or social and cultural practices that have grown up around that technology.” Thus,while we will be learning and teaching one another technical skills (Wordpress, Photoshop,GarageBand, iMovie, Dreamweaver, etc.) we will also be exploring and teaching each other socio-technical skills and values: Why do so many people wear headphones on the bus? Why arelol cats so popular? Why has there been a dramatic rise in Internet dating? Why do people get somad when technology doesn’t work? What are girl technologies and what are boy technologies?What makes a photograph beautiful? What makes a photograph ethical? What is involved in theart of a good mixed CD (why do we still make mix CDs)? What’s gained and lost in thenegotiation between creating the kinds of photographs, songs, movies, websites we like and thekinds that someone might buy? Why do I hate the auto-tuner but love a distorted amp?
More generally, the learning objectives of this course are to:
Understand and apply fundamental rhetorical and design principles for analyzing, planning, creating digital media texts for public consumption.