New Course on Social Software
newcourse.jpgThe Grammar of Technologies for Cooperation
New Course by Trebor Scholz
Department of Media Study
The State University of New York at Buffalo
Spring 2006

Syllabus Online

Course Description

This course introduces the history, realities and potentials of collaborative technologies. The particular focus is on the field of culture. Debates about online collaboration and social networking often do not go beyond the management rhetoric of business. Effectiveness and group dynamics are they key issues in streamlining corporate group work. The Grammar of Technologies for Collaboration investigates historical perspectives on tools for collaboration and traces their influence on communication.

A recent study of The Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that 51 million Americans of all ages (and 57% of all US teenagers) have contributed content online. They wrote blog entries, book reviews, uploaded mp3s and video, or podcasts. The average European Internet user spends 10 hours 15 minutes a week online. Artists use this huge participatory potential to create input-driven projects. But often web-based rooms are opened and nobody comes to party. What are the needed incentives for people to participate? Video makers use video blogs to create an offline audience for their tapes. Artists use blogs as portfolios, for day-to-day reflection, and as platforms for their work as public intellectuals. Art activist groups further their political agendas. Artists form social networks to create sustaining venues for their work and contexts for their ideas. Inexpensive social networking tools create new publics for cultural producers. A culture of widespread free sharing emerges along with the development of social software tools. Media theorists argue that a creative cooperative proficiency is *the* key skill for the next decade. After successful completion of this course you will have a deeper practical, historical, theoretical, and political understanding of contemporary media spheres.

We will read, discuss, blog frequently, comment on each others entries, and present. Lectures will alternate with class discussions, screenings, and audio talks. In addition, you will be asked to create a Wikipedia entry. This is a theory and practice course.