ENGL 391 (Section 901, Schedule #29187)
Virginia Commonwealth University
Spring 2014
MW 5:30-6:45pm :: Hibbs 331
Prof. David Golumbia
Office: 324D Hibbs Hall
Spr 2014 Office Hours: Tues 1-3:30pm

Digital Studies

Potential Topics

Date Group Topic Readings

Weds Feb 19

Group 6

Social Media (3)

the various means by which people seek to turn social media into a kind of (imaginary or real) game.

Mon Feb 24

Group 3

Social Media (1)

The topic for today concerns social media's role in finding freedom through revolution, and historical roles of technology roles in the pursuit of freedom. The material today is closer to 90 minutes or two hours worth--the documentary is almost an hour long--so please set aside some extra time for preparation.

Weds, Feb 26 Group 5 Impact of Digital Technology on In-Person Sociality Watch
Watch "I Forgot My Phone": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OINa46HeWg8. This is a short video showing the sad truth about how we are so attached to our phones and don’t take the time to appreciate or be in the moment. Are there certain things in this video you can relate to? Also, read through the comments below. Is there a particular comment you agree or disagree with? What do the comments say about the beliefs people have about digital technology,

Also see the comments to an NPR story about this same video: http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/09/05/219266779/our-cultural-addiction-to-phones-in-one-disconcerting-video


  • Exploring Web 2.0: The Impact of Digital Communications Technologies on Youth Relationships and Sociability by Sarah M. Long

    This is an academic article showing both sides of digital communication; how it is decreasing face-to-face interaction but also allows for a more diverse network of people to communication. It also includes face-to-face interviews conducted with college-aged students. Attached at the end are the questions used for the interview. Take a look at the questions and answer them if you can.
  • The Subtle Benefits of Face-to-Face Communication by Brad Hunter

    This article how face-to-face communications is better for humans both biologically and psychologically. It uses various literary works to support the author’s stance. Do you agree or not agree with what he is saying.
  • The Problem with The “I Forgot My Phone” Video by nathanjurgenson

    This blog post is a criticism of the “I Forgot My Phone” Video. The author calls out the negative factors of the video. Read through it and if you can also read the comments. To me, the author seems a bit condescending, however, you might have a different take on it. What arguments, if any, do you have with this article, or do you agree with what he is saying?
  • How Social Media Woke Up Bhutan

    I discovered this article while scrolling through my twitter timeline! Of all places! In this article, it talks about how this small country was isolated from the rest of the world until 1999 with the arrival of television and the internet. It’s interesting to see how digital communications has impacted a country outside of the US. Take a look!
  • Technology Can Have Positive and Negative Impact on Social Interactions

    This articles provides the positive and negative effects of digital communication on social interactions. It also provides statistics and graphs to show evidence.
Mon, Mar 3 Group 4 Digital Photography Alright, class! For digital photography as a topic, we will be discussing how the introduction of digital photography has served as a sort of catalyst for things that were already slowly in the works. The main two being that photography had started to become more accessible and thus amateur-friendly, and the questioning of the truthfulness of photography. These links should help explain the two.
Weds, Mar 5 Group 6 Trolling
The readings today focus on Trolling and the Psychology of it. Today's articles mainly focus on whether or not there might be something wrong mentally with those people who "troll".
Mon, Mar 17   Transparency  
Weds, Mar 19   Class Divides  
Mon, Mar 24   Gender  
Weds, Mar 26   Privacy & Surveillance (1)  
Mon, Mar 31   Social Media (2)  
Weds, Apr 2   Identity and the Self
Please read the following articles:

Read the "Personal Branding and Performativity" section of the attached PDF

Watch this video:


Weds, Apr 2   Games (2) This is a short, entertaining look at why the way gamification is today sucks and how the concept should be reexamined:
http://trippenbach.com/2013/ 04/17/kill-it-with-fire- gamification-sucks-game- dynamics/
Linked from the article above, this video narrates a day in the life of someone in the not-so-far future where gamification has led to the game-pocalypse. It is farfetched, but an interesting look at how companies could one day use games to rule our lives (a direction the world already seems to be moving towards):
http://fora.tv/2010/07/27/ Jesse_Schell_Visions_of_the_ Gamepocalypse/10_Points_for_ Eating_Cereal_Schell_on_the_ Gamepocalypse

This is an overview of gamification by a game designer who does consulting for businesses. He focuses on what he thinks is wrong with most gamification strategies and what actually works.

NYT article about the way businesses have implemented gamification successfully. It also gives examples of people who have benefited from gamification. The article itself doubles as a "game." Do you find yourself wanting to collect all the badges? Personally, it was fun for me to be rewarded for doing something I already planned to do (i.e., read the article). It starts feeling gimmicky and annoying when the gamification aspects push me toward doing things I'm not interested in doing, like sharing the article or leaving a comment.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/ 12/24/technology/all-the- worlds-a-game-and-business-is- a-player.html?_r=0
Critique of gamification asserting that its popularity revolves around its current position as a trendy (and successful) marketing strategy.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=1dLK9MW-9sY

Penny Arcade's Extra Credit discusses the positives and negatives of the ever popular aspect of gameification

http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=MuDLw1zIc94

This episode of Extra Credit is the second half of Gameification but focuses more on bringing it to the education.
http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=O2N-5maKZ9Q

TED Talks - Gabe Zichermann shows how games are making kids better problem-solvers, and will make us better at everything from driving to multi-tasking.

 Here is a link that pertains to gamification in education.

Mon, Apr 7   Online Shopping & eCommerce  
Weds, Apr 9   Generations  


Last updated April 2, 2014.