What is New Media?

  1. The short answer to Lev Manovich’s question, “what is new media?” is digital. What is a longer answer to that question?
  2. According to Thomas Edison, in his article “The Phonograph and the Future,” what are some ways the phonograph help to annihilate time and space?
  3. In what three ways do machines improve efficiency in the nineteenth century?
  4. Why did the World Wide Web flourish since its invention in the 1990s, according to Tim Berners-Lee? What are some threats the web faces twenty years later?
  5. Did the telephone revolutionarily change our way of communicating or did, as Tom Vanderbilt writes, “our habits grow out of other habits more than gadgets?”

Learning from the Telegraph

Tom Standage, Victorian Internet

  1. What were some of the early promises envisioned by introduction of the electrical telegraph in the 1830s?
  2. What were some of the dangers the telegraph posed due to its transmission speed? How did some unsavory elements exploit them?
  3. How did the Victorians deal with “information overload?”
  4. How did improvements in telegraph technology evolve to make operating a telegraph—once a high-skilled profession—a low-skilled job?
  5. How did the telephone evolve from the “talking telegraph” and ultimately disrupt the telegraph industry?
  6. What are some parallels between the telegraph in the nineteenth century and the Internet in the twenty-first century?

James Carey, “Technology and Ideology: The Case of the Telegraph

  1. According to James Carey, what are four reasons for studying the telegraph and its impact?
  2. How did the telegraph’s emergence as a “distinctively different force of production” pave the way for the modern corporation and monopoly capitalism?
  3. Why was the telegraph, in the popular imagination of the nineteenth century, cloaked in religious, mysterious, and even spiritual terms?
  4. How did the telegraph assist in the building and managing of empires, leading to a shift from colonialism to imperialism?
  5. What effect did the telegraph have on language, especially in newspapers?
  6. How did the telegraph separate the once unbreakable link between transportation and communication?
  7. How did the telegraph annihilate space and time by the standardization of commodities exchange and of times zones in the nineteenth century? What effect did the former have on the nature of exchange from goods to receipts? How did the latter implement “railroad time” to coordinate industry and everyday life?
  8. How we might the computer rework, what Carey calls, our “practical consciousness to [coordinate] and [control] life in what we glibly call the postindustrial society?”

New Media Forms

  1. What, according to Manovich, is the connection between computing technology and modern art after World War II?
  2. What are some differences between new media and cyberculture?
  3. What are some of the techniques and tropes that accompany all communications technologies in their “new media” stage?
  4. How are the techniques of digital media and of the avant-garde related?
  5. In 1999, Fred Ritchin argued that digital copies of digital photographs are such perfect reproductions that the concept of the “‘original’ loses its meaning.” How does the “shitpic” challenge this idea in 2015?
  6. How did the “shitpic” develop into such a popular image form?
  7. Is a “shitpic” an authentic work of art?
  8. According to Shifman, what are the three principles that govern the cultural logic of photo-based memes?
  9. How does a photo-based meme hypersignify and posit a prospective reaction similar to works of modern art?
  10. How do photo-based memes challenge the boundaries between consumers and producers?

Disruptions and Creative Destructions

  1. What is, according to Manuel Castells, the network society?
  2. How has labor changed under the network economy?
  3. What is networked individualism and how does it affect communication among people and their networks?
  4. Why is the nation-state, according to Castells, in danger of being replaced?
  5. How should the public sphere respond to the changes wrought by the network society?
  6. How was the labor market, according to Joan Greenbaum, upended by the creative destructions of the Internet?
  7. How is the “bottom layer” of the Internet decentralized?
  8. Why did the small companies of the new economy in the late 1990s fail in the face of more established players, according to Greenbaum?
  9. What is the “Uberization of work,” as described by Farhad Manhoo?
  10. How does that compare to the “gig economy,” outlined by Sarah Kessler?
  11. Is there a winner in Kessler’s examples of “on-demand economy”?
  12. Consider what Castells and Kessler argue about state policy, why are these networked jobs behind the times in terms of regulation?
  13. How does John Phillip Sousa react to the advent of sound recording in 1906?


  1. The internet was originally supposed to be a libertarian, free space. Do you think it can still be considered this? Or has it since become a constricted and controlled zone, considering the regulations uses to filter and review information?
  2. Should Google be more regulated as it continues to evolve and grow more and more powerful and expansive in its business ventures?
  3. Do you think that it is good that Google traffics and regulates the order in which sites appear when a term or phrase is searched?
  4. Do you trust Google with your personal information?
  5. Is the development and advance of technology always advantages for humanity?
  6. What do you think the advantages are of the aggregation of a lot of data?
  7. Is Google the right platform to make books publicly accessible through?
  8. Will there be a way of controlling Google’s power/is Google too powerful?
  9. Do you use Google books and if so has it made book access easier? If not, how do you typically access books?

Net Smart

  1. What is the “echo chamber” effect? (95)
  2. What is “infotention”? What does it consist of? (97–98)
  3. How much thought do you put into the credibility of an online source? Do you do additional research?
  4. Has anyone experienced their participation leading to more creative involvement or something beyond themselves?
  5. Has anyone considered their participation as labor? Why or why not?
  6. Are you aware of your participation online? And how does that determine your involvement?
  7. On what social media platform do you find to be most effective in terms of networking?
  8. Do you believe the internet is the best way to network? media?
  9. Why are younger generations so okay with their lives not being private?

Networked Individualism

  1. Could the same kind of organization and community support Trudy and Peter received have occurred without the aid of social media/the Internet?
  2. Is this new “social reality” necessary for our current society? Is it necessary to have a common goal to communicate around?
  3. The authors claim when people are on the Internet they’re interacting (Facebooking, Wikipedia-ing, texting, blogging, etc). Do you agree? Does it matter if there is a screen between you? Is there a difference between Skyping, IM-ing, leaving a Facebook comment, and talking in person?
  4. The authors also claim that networked individualism places the focus on the person rather than the group, family, neighborhood, or social circle. Do you agree? Can networks also be used to enhance the focus on groups rather than the individual?
  5. The book mentions preconceived notions about heavy technology users and their relationships, noting that their usage makes them create other personas of themselves and isolate themselves more. Are there any truth to these notions? What are automatic assumptions you all have when it comes to heavy technology users?
  6. What did the invention of airplanes do for long-distance relationships? …telephones? …social media?
  7. The book argues quantity is quality. Do you agree or disagree with this statement?
  8. Are there any social networking sites or applications that can be seen as competition for Facebook profiles?
  9. Which social media sites thrive on users showing individualism?
  10. The authors mention in the book “The Triple Revolution” which refers to social network, mobile, and internet. How does this concept fit into our daily communication with others, and help ourselves to acquire new information?
  11. How does ubiquitous computing enhance the idea “network individualism”?
  12. What does the convergence of new media shape the way people communicate nowadays? What are some of the examples in everyday life that requires the convergence of different communication forms?

Filter Bubble

  1. Would a filter bubble be something deemed cool and helpful or completely disastrous? Are you comfortable with the filter bubble? Does it really know who we are?
  2. Can you visualize some of the things stated in this chapter? Are they good or bad? Will we accept them or will history repeat itself and push it away?
  3. If we read books like this one and have heard that we are in a filter bubble that will only get thicker, and although it has its benefits, it also has its cons , then we are becoming aware of the consequences that this b=might bring. So, why don’t we do something about? Why hasn’t someone done something already? Can anything be done?
  4. What is personalization? Why is it necessary to provide relevant content—in favor of complete comprehensive information?
  5. How does the internet allow for disintermediation? Does it simply replace the old gatekeepers with new ones?
  6. How does Internet news, such as that produced by Gawker, live and die based on being forwarded by its readers as “clickbait”? What does this do to news, its content, and its purpose?
  7. What is lock-in?
  8. What is ambient intelligence?

It’s Complicated

  1. Briefly, what common wisdom is danah boyd trying to dispel in her book?
  2. What forms of social media does she consider in her study?
  3. Why does she focus her research on teens?
  4. How does she dispel the notion that teenagers are sacrificing privacy for their social interactions? Do teens keep somethings private and make some things public?
  5. According to boyd, are teens addicted to social networking?
  6. How does the social networking reveal the biases and social divisions present in the real world?

Internet Utopianism

  1. What is solutionism? What is internet centrism?
  2. How does openness of the Internet suggest new possibilities for governing?
  3. What are some dangers of allowing this Internet utopianism solve all our problems without human leadership and judgement?
  4. How does, according to Morozov, the Pirate Party and its open participation model “break” democracy?
  5. Why is wrong to expect the Internet to do for politics as what amazon.com did for books (or the iPod did for music)?
  6. Why are market principles, appropriate for commerce, not applicable for democratic governance? In other words, why is a product perfect but politics imperfect?
  7. Why is the example of Santa Monica’s “smart” parking system an example of “smart gadgets” programmed by “dumb humans?”
  8. Why do the “erratic appliances” surveyed by Morozov suggest a “transformational design” that other technological applications he mentions in earlier chapters lack?

Cognitive Surplus

  1. Why did gin and television become popular in their respective historical times and places?
  2. Why are Ushahidi and LOLcats examples of very similar but ultimately different tendencies with sharing?
  3. How did the availability of free time and the ability to participate online merge to create cognitive surplus?
  4. What does Shirky mean when we argues that we have “means, motive, and opportunity” to share?
  5. Why should newly designed social networks, according to Shirky, default to be open?
  6. How does a community form when the following attributes are present:
    • large group of users
    • active group of users
    • focused group of users
  7. What is the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation?
  8. How does an amateur aesthetic encourage participation compared in a digital community compared to a website with a more professional look.