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Brooks Library Research Guides: COM/SOC 369 Mass Media And Society: Social Media
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Brooks Library Research Guides: COM/SOC 369 Mass Media And Society: Social Media

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COM/SOC 369 Mass Media & Society
Mass Media and Society: Social Media
Online, Fall 2013
Prof. Helen C. Harrison, PhD Cand.
  Table of Contents:
  Course Calendar
  Course Description
  Required Text
  Combined Enrollment
  Course Requirements
  Students with Disabilities
  Academic Dishonesty

Course Calendar:
COM/SOC 369 Assignments

Some Library Resources to help you start your search for more information about this week's topic.

Week 1: 9/25-10/6

Textbook: Athique, Chapter 1: Building a Digital Society

Lecture: Modes of Social Media (History & Technology of Social Media; Media Evolution Theory)

Case Study:
The Man Who Was Allergic to Radio Waves” by James Geary, Popular Science, 2010

Just because we can do something doesn't mean we should do it. There are a myriad of social and communication implications of the negative impact on human health of electro-magnetic technologies. What do you think?

Using the "Choose Databases" link to search multiple EBSCO databases [Academic Search Complete, Health Source (both Consumer Edition and Nursing/Academic Edition), Communication & Mass Media Complete, MasterFILE Premier, MEDLINE, and Military & Government Collection] at the same time, with the Search Terms "(cell phone dangers) OR (electromagnetic danger) OR (cell phone problems)", yielded more than 4,000 articles on the supposed dangers of cell phones and/or worries about electromagnetic radiation.

Cattrax lists 187 texts with some relevance.

Also, the comments to the article will provide you with some interesting perspectives on the issues raised, persepctives that may suggest some interesting research possibilities.
Week 2: 10/7-10/13

Athique, Chapter 2: The Socio-technical Interface

Framing Internet Social Media (Theories of Social Media Critique)

Case Study Article:
A Commander’s Strategy for Social Media” by Thomas D. Mayfield, III, Joint Force Quarterly, NDU Press, 60.1, 2011

Social media use represents a complex mix of centralized and decentralized authorities, strategies and goals in conflict, competition or cooperation with each other. Is there some way of advancing social media theories and critiques to express the complexity of social media use?

Some Related Texts from the Brooks Library docx - a Word Document, with active links!

Thirteen articles that cite "A Commander's Strategy for Social Media".

Using the "Find Similar Results pdf" link provided me with a list of 5,858,922 articles.  I added the subject term "Social Media" and then used the Limiters "Subject: Thesaurus Term" and "Subject" to produce a potentially more useful list of 1,534 articles.

Try selecting an interesting article, one that you think sheds some light on this week's questions, and use the same "Find Similar Results", additional subject terms, and the limiters to see what additional information and insight you can find.
Week 3: 10/14-10/20

Textbook: Athique, Chapter 3: Typing the User

: Psycholinguistic Dynamics of Social Media (Orality, Literacy, Virtuality)

Case Study Article
: “Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy

Does the reflexive nature of social media cause changes in users’ social psychology or are social psychological conditions the result of other or additional factors? Do the psycholinguistic features of virtuality lend themselves in some way toward the experience and/or expression of certain human emotions or modes of thinking, e.g. unhappiness about non-achievement of life goals? Read this essay and the comments and consider how a social group is defined, represented and interpreted through the lens of social media.

For this week's Case Study Article I copied the questions that Prof. Harrison asked you to think about into the SmartText Searching screen (one of the search options located under the search boxes).  This brought up a list of 6,231,394 articles, several of which seemed relevant.  Then I used the words "((social media) or (social psychology) or (psycholinguistic) or (virtuality) or (emotions) or (thinking) or (unhappiness) or (acheivement) or (non-acheivement) or (social group) or (defined) or (represented) or (interpreted))" as keywords in a Boolean Search in the search box below the one I pasted Prof. Harrison's questions in (I limited that search box to looking for subject terms).  This produced an interesting-looking list of 241,939 articles.

Look through the articles, select a few of them, read them, and then find some more articles using the 'Find Similar Results' link to see what else you can find that will help you address Prof. Harrison's questions.
Week 4: 10/21 – 10/27

Athique, Chapter 4: Audience as Community

Defining Social Media (Characteristics of Emergent Media)

Case Study Article:
Backchannels on the Front Lines: Emergent Uses of Social Media in the 2007 Southern California Wildfires”, Jeannette Sutton et. al, Proceedings of the 5th International ISCRAM Conference, Washington DC, USA, May 2008.

How do “communities” and “audiences” differ? How do they overlap? Did the use of social media by the public during the 2007 Southern California wildfires create either one of those sociological categories? Or another sociological group perhaps?

These articles also come up when the title of this week's reading is searched for in Google Scholar.

At least 174 other articles cite this week's assigned article.

And the EBSCO databases brought up 6,271,063 articles in a SmartText Search, using the title of this week's article.  Switching the search option to "Find All My Search Terms" the database presented me with a list of 47 articles.  Notice the prevelance of the word "backchannel"....

Week 5: 10/28 – 11/3

Athique, Chapter 5: Pleasing Bodies

Social Media Effects (Psychological Effects of Internet; to be created)

Case Study Article:
A Rape in Cyberspace” by Julian Dibbel, Village Voice, 1993

In this famous first-person reflection on a multi-player game user's violation of community interactivity standards, Dibbel raises important questions about the definition of sexual assault (specifically, and crime in general) in online contexts, free speech, anonymity, community self-management and a myriad of other issues crucial to the human experience of social media. What do you think?

The articles that come up when the title of this week's article is searched for in Google.  Note that Dibbel has published the same article under a slightly different name in the 1994 edition of the Annual Survey of American Law.  That article has been cited by 611 other articles.

Interestingly, the EBSCO databases turned up only 26 articles when the title was used as a search term, and 107 articles when I did a Boolean Search for "(Rape) and ((cyberspace) or (social media))".  A Boolean Search for "(Rape) and ((video game) or (online game))" produced a list of 81 articles.

Current Events: Anita Sarkeesian's work and the Freeze Peach vs. Free Speech arguments.
Week 6: 11/4 – 11/10

Athique, Chapter 6: Reality Checks; Chapter 7: My Personal Public


Case Study Article:
"The Relationship between Traditional Mass Media and “Social Media”: Reality Television as a Model for Social Network Site Behavior” by Michael A. Stefanone, et. al., Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, Routledge, 2010

Social media uses, though its functional capabilities are far expanded from traditional mass media, invite a surprising transfer of social functions from the mass media to the social media context. Do these transfers help or hinder social structure and relations? You be the judge.

Once again, the title of this week's Case Study Article in a Google Scholar Search, which mentions that the article has been cited by 24 other articles.

An EBSCO Search using the 'Find Similar Results' option created a list of 9,558,334 articles, I then used the Limiters on the left side to produce a list of 7,837 articles.  Note what subject terms are used to describe particularly interesting or useful articles.

"Reality Television" in Cattrax as a Subject Term, and as a Keyword/Relevancy Search.  Note what subject terms are also used to describe particularly interesting or useful texts.
Week 7: 11/11 – 11/7

Athique, Chapter 9: The Road to Serverdom

Major Issues in Internet Social Media (Corporate Control and Net Neutrality, Digital Divide, Community and Social Capital, Technological Determinism and Social Constructionism)

Case Study Article:
The Internet Must Go

How does the issue of net neutrality affect or influence the other major technological, communication and sociological issues mentioned in the lecture, in the textbook and in the video?

Some discussion of the film
by various media organizations.

Net Neutrality at Google Scholar.

In EBSCO 'Net Neutrality' produced a list of 380,771 articles, and 'limiter-narrowed' to a list of 989 articles.

In Cattrax: 'Net Neutrality', a Keyword/Relevance Search and a Subject Search (and a Subject Search for 'Network Neutrality' and one for 'Internet Access Control').
Week 8: 11/18 – 11/24

Athique, Chapter 10: Digital Property; Chapter 11: Consuming Power


Case Study Article:
Kakutani, M. (2007, June 29). The Cult of the Amateur. The New York Times.  [This is a Book review of Andrew Keen’s The Cult of the Amateur.]

Do you agree or disagree with Keen: that the pervasiveness of prosumers and mashup culture in the digital age downgrade the quality of cultural and economic accomplishments.

Google Scholar finds 1,122 articles that cite "The Cult of the Amateur".

Using the title to search EBSCO provided a list of 6,124,766 articles, beginning with several book reviews.  Try using the limiters on the left side of the page to sift through those articles and find some particularly interesting and edifying ones.
Week 9: 11/25-12/1

Athique, Chapter 13: Virtual Democracy


Case Study Article:
Political Power of Social Media” by Clay Shirky, Council on Foreign Relations, Jan/Feb2011, Vol. 90 Issue 1, p28-41.

Social media demonstrates great power to raise shared awareness and direct action among citizens, who seek to participate in civil society and not simply listen as obedient audience members to their governments. But it also risks destabilizing governments, deservedly or not. Should there be legal controls on social media or is social anarchy the realistic outcome? Any ideas?

Google Scholar finds 276 articles that have cited this week's case study.

The 'Find Similar Results' tool in EBSCO provided a list of 6,871,991 articles.  Using the Limiters to focus the results on 'Social Media', 'Political Power', and their synonyms produced a list of 1,076 articles.

Cattrax Searches for the Subject Terms "Social media -- Political aspects", "Communication in politics -- Technological innovations", and "Political participation -- Technological innovations".
Week 10: 12/2-12/8

Athique, Chapter 14: Under Scrutiny; Chapter 15: Managing Risk


Case Study Article:
Meet Prism’s Little Brother: Socmint” by Paul Wright, WiredUK, 26 June 13,

Is the pervasive use of social media for intelligence gathering justified by the degree of threat of criminal or terrorist activity or an invasive over reach by government officials? What legal, social and cultural dangers are entailed in the use of social media for criminal surveillance?

Bruce Schneier: the blog and a list of essays.

Glenn Greenwald: On Security and Liberty.

An EBSCO Boolean Search for "(surveillance) and ((social media) or (internet) or (computer) or (digital) or (online))" produced a list of 13,601 articles, semi-arbitrarially limited to this 153 article list with a slightly different focus....

Course Description:
This course is an introduction to the sociological, communication and technological impacts and issues, both positive and negative, surrounding Internet social media. Students will study the history of social media technology; media evolution, innovation and adoption theories; definitions of social media; major philosophical and sociological issues surrounding social media; theories of social media critique; and the psycholinguistic dynamics of social media.

Students are expected to possess a basic understanding of social science research: what social science research is like and how the results are understood. You are also expected to engage critical thinking and assessment skills in the analysis of specific cases involving problematic social media technologies and human experience. You are as well expected to reflect on social science research in an online, collaborative process. Finally, you are expected to read all assigned materials and take all assigned examinations.

The course material is presented in five modes:
  1. assigned readings from the textbook;
  2. online Powerpoint lectures from the instructor via Adobe Presenter (access links in the Documents section of the course Blackboard site);
  3. interactive discussion on the course's Blackboard Discussion Forum based on
  4. weekly case study essays and questions about social media;
  5. weekly quizzes on the week’s textbook readings and online lectures.

By the completion of the course, students will:
  • Understand the major technical, historical, philosophical, theoretical, sociological and psychological issues affecting Internet social media through textbook readings, online lectures and examinations.
  • Critically assess and write essays about problematic social and communication issues in Internet social media through reading and writing about case studies.
  • Engage in an online collaborative discussion about social media case studies.

Required text:
Adrian Athique, Digital Media and Society: An Introduction, Malden, MA: Polity, 2013.
Available from as a paperback (about $21) and kindle edition (about $18.82).

Combined Enrollment:

The SOC369 and COM369 enrollments have been combined under “COM369.A01_1139: Mass Media and Society” in Blackboard.

Course Requirements:
A. Reading/Listening.
You are expected to study the textbook readings and online lecture materials carefully and to assimilate the material so thoroughly that you will easily demonstrate your knowledge of them through your on-line essays, questions and comments and through high scores on the on-line quizzes.

B. Quizzes.

There are weekly online quizzes worth 10 points for each chapter and/or lecture combination to test your knowledge of the readings and lectures. You have 15 minutes to complete each quiz and you only have 1 attempt. For the first two weeks while students are obtaining their textbooks, there is no deadline for late quizzes. Beginning week 3 (10/14/13) late quizzes will not be accepted.

C. Essays.
You are expected to post an approximately 500-600 word essay for each article examining some aspect of social media in the Discussion Forum. These essays are worth 50 points each. Posts must be done by 8:00 pm on the last day of the week for the unit as listed in the syllabus. For the first 2 weeks while students are obtaining their textbooks, there is no penalty for late essays. Beginning week 3 (10/14/13) late essays are 50% point value.

In your article essays, you are to discuss at least 3 distinct social or communication ideas/issues/complications/problems that the article raises in your mind based on your textbook readings and on-line lectures. Make your points as thoughtful and insightful as you possibly can. Accurate and relevant references to ideas in, or quotations from, the lectures or the textbook will be given higher grading consideration. Essays that rely on personal experience or generalized rumors for illustration will be given lower, if no, grading consideration. As an upper division course, you should be very familiar with the 3-point essay with illustration style used in academic settings.

[Note: Zotero is an extremely useful tool for note-taking and creating properly formatted citations.]

Prof. Harrison finds that once students get into the groove of the course, most essays fall into the A (45 to 50 pts) or B (40 to 44 pts) range. She usually does not comment a great deal on successful essays, but will give you explicit feedback if your essay is falling short in substance or style.

An essay that demonstrates poor GPSFVS (grammar, punctuation, spelling, format, vocabulary, style errors) will be graded down ½ pt off for each error. So, proofread your essays before you hit submit. Just because this is an online course does not mean your writing can be less than professional.

[Note: The CWU Writing Center, located in the Brooks Library, can help you with any grammar, punctuation, spelling, format, vocabulary, or stylistic questions.  And it is always a good idea to reread, even read aloud, your essay or comment before you submit it.  It is probably a good idea to write your essay in the Word, Open Office, Notepad, or some other word processor and then copy/paste it into the Discussion Forum.  This tends to prevent 'hasty submissions'.]

D. Questions.
You must place 2 questions at the end of your post about that week's article to which other students may comment. The questions are required but in terms of scoring regarded as extra credit points (up to 1 pt each). You would be surprised how many students forget to add them. A question may receive less than 1 point or no point at all if it is not on topic for the week or if it is a closed-ended question that can be answered “yes” or “no.” No credit for late questions.

E. Comments.

Students are required to respond to a minimum of 2 other postings for each week. Your two responses cannot be to a single student’s two questions. You must respond to two separate questions from two different students. If you make two comments to the two questions asked by one student, one of those comments will not be graded.

Comments will be graded according to originality and thoughtful contribution to the discussion of the post. Comments that are limited to “I like your post” or “I dislike your post” or “I agree with your post” or “I disagree with your post” are worth only 1 point, for example.
[Explaining why you agree or disagree, and what the facts are that support your position, is always a good idea.]

Your comments must have intellectual substance to obtain the highest score — the more intellectual substance, the higher the score; 5 points is the maximum per individual comment.  Comments that make a simple analytical observation, expounding on the discussion only marginally in 2-3 sentences, usually receive 3 points – and that is the average score.

You are of course welcome to participate as much as you'd like for extra credit points, but these are the minimum requirements. Additional comments may receive ½ or 1 extra credit point, depending upon quality. Aside from the questions and additional comments, there are no other extra credit opportunities for the course.

Comments must be done by 8:00 pm on the last day of the week for the unit as listed in the syllabus. For the first 2 weeks while students are obtaining their textbooks, there is no penalty for late comments. Beginning week 3 (10/14/13) late comments are 50% point value.

Sometimes Prof. Harrison will ask follow up questions if an essay or comment is incomplete or unclear. She does not assign any points until all of her follow up questions are answered, so be sure to check your entries for my follow up questions, if any.

If you want the highest points possible: ONLY ASK QUESTIONS AND ONLY WRITE COMMENTS THAT ARE ON TOPIC FOR THE WEEK. This is where students most often loose points unnecessarily – they don’t stay on topic!
[Note: Your knowing that your comment is on-topic does not guarantee that someone else will perceive it as on-topic, therefore it is usually better to be clear and complete in your comment than it is to be pithy and profound.]

Prof. Harrison retains the right to make exceptions to online classroom policies or to change this syllabus at any time. 

Quizzes        10 pts each   100 pts
Essays          50 pts each   500 pts
Comments     5 pts each   100 pts.
                                     Total 700 pts.
A>630; B>560; C>490; F=below 490. +, - is 7 pts above or below grade break.

Students with Disabilities:

Students with disabilities who wish to set up academic accommodations for this class should send a copy of their “Academic Adjustment” asap so we can implement these accommodations. Students with disabilities without this documentation should contact the Center for Disability Services, Bouillon 140 or or 509-963-1202.

Academic Dishonesty:
Academic dishonesty is defined in the CWU Student Conduct Code. If academic dishonesty is confirmed (this includes plagiarism—taking others’ works and crediting them as your own), the instructor may issue a failing grade for the specific assignment and/or for the course. The instructor and department may also forward the case to administrators for disciplinary action. Withdrawing from the course does not excuse academic dishonesty. In cases were academic dishonesty is confirmed, a “W” can be replaced with a letter grade. (See also: Student Rights and Responsibilities).

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