|Class Location & Time:||Tuesdays, 13:10–15:00, BL 319|
|Office Location:||Rm. 328 in iSouth (45 Wilcocks St.)|
|Office Hours:||14:00–15:00 on Mondays or by appointment|
|Email Address:||yuri.takhteyev -at- utoronto.ca|
|Course Website:||http://takhteyev.org/courses/12W/inf2198/ or http://bit.ly/inf2198|
Students who want to contact the instructor by email should send their messages from their Utormail addresses and include the course code (“INF2198”) in the subject line. Please expect a response within 2 business days. (If you do not hear back within 2 days, please resend your message.)
Students are encouraged to make use of office hours.
“This seminar approaches information and communication technologies from critical and historical perspectives. We will investigate theories of the relations among technology, information, ideology, culture, and social structure, as well as methods for studying those relations. First, we will survey the available theories and methods for understanding large scale technological systems, including the social construction of technology, technological determinism, feminist technology studies, and the political economy of information and communication. We will ask about the interests, motives, and tactics of news media, pop culture producers, amateurs, universities, corporations, and governments in promoting, sustaining, and interpreting information and communication systems. Finally, we will ask how information systems mediate, alter, or entrench power relations and cultural practices. While our focus will be on media and information technologies, more theoretical or methodological readings will necessarily cover other systems. Case studies may include investigations of writing, the printing press, industrialized printing, telegraphy, telephony, computing, and the internet.”
This course will be taught as a seminar. This means that the students are expected to take responsibility for their learning of the material through active engagement with the assigned readings, through participation in course discussion and through their individual work on a term paper. The students will be graded on their preparation for the class (“memos,” 20% of the course grade), their contribution to class discussion (20%), the term paper (two deliverables jointly worth 50%), and reviews of other students’ paper proposals (10%). Please note that the research paper is a major component of the course and students are encouraged to start working on it early in the semester rather than waiting until the end.
The course will strive to strike a balance between theoretical and substantive approaches to history. To achieve this we will start with two weeks of theoretical readings (weeks 2 and 3), then proceed to looking at studies that explore more closely specific topics in the history of information technology and, as a general rule, have a more substantive focus. (Though, as we will see, most of those studies bring into focus specific clusters of theoretical issues.) Those topics are arranged in a loosely chronological order to facilitate the discussion of the relations between historically proximate events. They do not, however, aim to present a definitive view of the history of information technology and should be read as case studies.
(20% of the grade)
(20% of the grade)
|7||February 28||History||yes||Readings||Paper proposals||10%|
|8||March 6||Paper proposals||Proposals||Proposal reviews||10%|
|13||April 10||yes||Term paper||40%|
Chaired by Selena.
Marx, Karl (1978 [~1846]). “The German Ideology: Part I.” In Robert C. Tucker, ed., The Marx–Engels Reader, New York: Norton and Company. Pages 147–200. [R] Robarts: HX39.5 .M377 1978 http://bit.ly/vR23BL.
Smith, Merrit Row and Leo Marx, eds. (1994). Does Technology Drive History? The Dilemma of Technological Determinism. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Pages ix–xv, 1–7, and 26–35. (The introduction and parts of Smith’s “Technological Determinism in American Culture.”) [R] Inforum: 303.483 D653D →http://bit.ly/uEwc8u.
Heilbroner, Robert L. (1967) “Do Machines Make History?” Technology and Culture, 8 (3), pp. 335–345. [E] →http://bit.ly/s2HIvs.
Bimber, Bruce (1990) “Karl Marx and the Three Faces of Technological Determinism.” Social Studies of Science, 20, pp. 333–351. [E] →http://bit.ly/s3j4Vh.
Chaired by Guy.
Pinch, Trevor J. and Wiebe E. Bijker (1984). “The Social Construction of Facts and Artefacts: Or How the Sociology of Science and the Sociology of Technology Might Benefit Each Other.” Social Studies of Science, 14, pp. 399–441. [E] →http://bit.ly/u3OZ1e.
Winner, Langdon (1993). “Upon Opening the Black Box and Finding It Empty: Social Constructivism and the Philosophy of Technology.” Science Technology And Human Values, 18 (3), pp. 362–378. [E] →http://bit.ly/s7Lm8M.
Edwards, Paul N. (2003) “Infrastructure and Modernity: Force, Time, and Social Organization in the History of Sociotechnical Systems.” In Thomas J. Misa, Philip Brey and Andrew Feenberg. eds., Modernity and Technology. Pages 185–225. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. [R] (a photocopy at Inforum). (Also available online here.)
Chaired by Matt.
Blaut, James M. (1992). “I. Fourteen Ninety-Two.” Political Geography, 11 (4), pp. 355–385. [E] →http://bit.ly/vlKfmk.
Ragep, Jamil F. (2007). “Copernicus and His Islamic Predecessors: Some Historical Remarks.” History of Science, 45 (1), pp. 65–81. [E] →http://bit.ly/u9lXkV.
Huff, Toby (2007). “Some Historical Roots of the Ethos of Science.” Journal of Classical Sociology, 7 (2), pg. 193–210. [E] →http://bit.ly/vxNwE0.
Law, John (1986). “On the Methods of Long Distance Control: Vessels, Navigation, and the Portuguese Route to India.” In John Law, ed., Power, Action and Belief: A New Sociology of Knowledge?, Sociological Review Monograph 32, Routledge. Pages 234–263. [E] →http://bit.ly/u5fCeN.
Chaired by Robert.
Eisenstein, Elizabeth (1980). The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Pages xiii–101. (The introduction and chapters 1, 2 and 3.) [R***] Inforum: 686.209 E43P →http://bit.ly/rVL4vj.
Chow, Kai-Wing (2004). Publishing, Culture, and Power in Early Modern China. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Pages 1–18 and 57–89. (The introduction and Chapter 2.) [R] Inforum: 070.50951 C552P →http://bit.ly/roZ2eV.
Chaired by Robert.
Chaired by Guy.
Paper proposals due at 13:10. Please bring four copies.
Yates, JoAnne (1989). Control Through Communication: the Rise of System in American Management. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press. Pages 1–20. (Chapter 1.) [E] →http://bit.ly/sWrQiz (3 pages at a time) or [R] Inforum: 658.45 Y32C →http://bit.ly/t7bnqZ.
Braverman, Harry (1974). Labor and Monopoly Capital : the Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century. New York: Monthly Review Press. Pages 85–123. (Chapter 4.) [R] Robarts: HD51 .B7 →http://bit.ly/sitCRw.
Heide, Lars (2008). “Punched Cards for Professional European Offices: Revisiting the Dynamics of Information Technology Diffusion from the United States to Europe, 1889–1918,” History and Technology, 24, pp. 307–320. [E] →http://bit.ly/tKohir.
Luebke, David M. and Sybil Milton (1994). “Locating the Victim: An Overview of Census-Taking, Tabulation Technology and Persecution in Nazi Germany.” IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, 16 (3), pp. 25–39. [E] →http://bit.ly/uwALvk.
Reviews of paper proposals due at 13:10. Please bring two copies of each review.
No readings for this week — work on reviewing the paper proposals.
Chaired by Selena.
Zerubavel, Eviatar (1982). “The Standardization of Time: A Sociohistorical Perspective.” American Journal of Sociology, 88 (1), pp. 1–23. [E] →http://bit.ly/sssF1k.
Bektas, Yakup (2000). “The Sultan’s Messenger: Cultural Constructions of Ottoman Telegraphy, 1847-1880.” Technology and Culture, 41(4), pp. 669–696. [E] →http://bit.ly/sP4AZG.
Headrick, Daniel R. and Pascal Griset (2001). “Submarine Telegraph Cables: Business and Politics, 1838-1939.” The Business History Review, 75 (3), pp. 543–578. [E] →http://bit.ly/vU542S.
Chaired by Linda.
Fischer, Claude S. (1992). America Calling: A Social History of the Telephone to 1940. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Pages 1–85. [E] →http://bit.ly/uJOnp2. (3 pages at a time) or [R**] Robarts: HE8817 .F56 1992 →http://bit.ly/u9tty2.
Martin, Michèle (1991) “Hello, Central?”: Gender,Technology, and Culture in the Formation of Telephone Systems. Montreal: McGill–Queen’s University Press. Pages 50-81. (Chapter 3). [E] →http://bit.ly/sKvDt3.
Chaired by TBA.
Ahiska, Meltem (2010). Occidentalism in Turkey: Questions of Modernity and National Identity in Turkish Radio Broadcasting. London: Tauris Academic Studies. Pages 65–91. (Chapter 3.) [R] Robarts: HE8699 .T8 A45 2010 →http://bit.ly/uEWdgv.
Horten, Gerd (2002). Radio Goes to War: The Cultural Politics of Propaganda during World War II. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Pages 66–86. (Chapter 3.) [R] Robarts: HE8697.85 .U6 H67 2002X →http://bit.ly/vygN9E.
Chaired by Linda.
Light, Jennifer S. (1999). “When Computers Were Women,” Technology and Culture, 40 (3), pp. 455–483. [E] →http://bit.ly/sffTYl.
Ensmenger, Nathan (2010). “Making Programming Masculine.” In Thomas J. Misa, ed., Gender Codes: Why Women Are Leaving Computing. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons. [E] →http://bit.ly/tnpPtl.
Wajcman, Judy (1991). Feminism Confronts Technology. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press. Pages 1–26. (Chapter 1.) [R] Robarts: HM221 .W35 1991a →http://bit.ly/rtRCfz.
Chaired by Matt.
Adler, Emanuel (1986). “Ideological ‘Guerrillas’ and the Quest for Technological Autonomy: Brazil’s Domestic Computer Industry.” International Organization, 40(3), pp. 673–705. [E] →http://bit.ly/s4Rfes.
Da Costa Marques, Ivan (2005). “Cloning Computers: From Rights of Possession to Rights of Creation.” Science as Culture, 14(2), pp. 139–160. [E] →http://bit.ly/u1VtsB.
The grading scheme is subject to revision until the first day of class.
The students are expected to be present in class and will be graded for their contribution to the class discussion. Please be advised that contribution does not mean attendance. (Of course, you cannot contribute without being present.) Students who attend the class but remain silent will earn no credit. Nor, however, does it mean simply speaking a lot. Rather, students are expected to come to class prepared, actively listen to what is being said by others and then make contributions to the discussion that take advantage of their own understanding of the readings and of what has been said up to that point.
Students who have difficulty speaking in public should see the instructor early in the semester, so that we could discuss possible remedies.
During most weeks class discussion will follow a structure within which each student will take one of the following three roles: the chair, a panelist, or a regular participant. Each student will be asked to pick one week during which they will serve as the “chair” for the discussion. The chair will prepare a written memo and a list of questions based on memos submitted by other students (see below) and will present those at the beginning of the class. Additionally, 3–5 students will serve as “panelists” for the discussion. (Each student will be asked to be a panelist four times during the semester.) After the chair’s introduction, the panelists will spend 30–40 minutes discussing the questions asked by the chair, with the rest of the class serving as the audience. After that, the discussion will be open to all students present in class (the “regular participants”).
One of the classes will be dedicated to discussion of paper proposals and will follow a different structure. (See below.)
For all weeks with assigned readings, the students will prepare “memos” on the readings assigned for that week. Each memo should be no longer than 1 page and should be formatted in accordance with this template: memo_template.doc, memo_template.odt, memo_template.rft.
The purpose of the memos is to help you make better sense of the readings and to increase the quality of the in-class discussion by ensuring that all students arrive to class having done the readings and having spent some time thinking about them.
Each memo should:
Each student must submit 10 memos during the semester. In other words, you can skip one.
The memos should be completed and shared with all other students (via email, as PDF files) by noon on Monday of each week. The student serving as the chair that week will then be responsible for reading all the memos and producing a one page aggregate memo and a list of questions for discussion. (All students are encouraged to read all memos, however, especially the panelists.)
Please note that the memos must strictly be submitted on time to receive full credit. Memos submitted after the Monday at noon deadline but before the class will get half credit. (Such memos should be printed out and brought to class in addition to being emailed to other students.) Memos not submitted by the start of the class will not be accepted under any circumstances. There will be no exceptions to this rule. (Students who fail to submit a memo on time on a given week should focus their efforts on the next week’s readings.)
Each student will write a term paper exploring a particular topic in the history of information technology. There are three deliverables related to this term paper, jointly worth 60% of your course grade.
Prior to developing the paper, each student will prepare a paper proposal.
The main text of the proposal should be up to 2 pages long and should answer the following questions:
What is the topic that the paper will focus on? (In particular, make it clear what technology, time period, and places you want to write about.)
Why is this topic interesting in the context of this course?
What claims do you expect to make in this paper and how do you expect to support them?
Your proposal should also include an annotated bibliography of the sources you intend to use. Each source should be accompanied by a brief description, stating what it is about and how you plan to use it. You do not need to be deeply familiar with all the sources at this point, but you should have a plan as to what you are going to do with this source.
Paper proposals are due by 13:10 on February 28. Please bring four copies of your proposal to class. (Three of the copies are for your reviewers, one is for the instructor.)
Late proposals will be subject to the standard late policy and will not be handed out for review.
You will share your paper proposal with three other students and will receive three proposals in return. You will then be asked to write a review of each proposal. The reviews should be constructive in their focus and aim to help the author of each proposal improve their paper. In particular, even if you find the author’s central argument dubious, your review should try to assist the author in strengthening this argument rather than explaining to them why their argument is wrong. The reviews should be 1–2 pages long and can include a bibliography (if appropriate). If you include a bibliography, do not count it towards the page limit.
During the class discussion of the paper proposals one of the reviewers will present the proposals and the other two reviewers will make their comments after that. (The authors will not be presenting their own proposals.)
The reviews are due at 13:10 on March 6. Please bring two copies of each review to class. (One copy goes to the author, another one is for the instructor.)
Late reviews will be subject to the standard late policy.
The final deliverable is a paper of 6,000–8,000 words, due at the end of the semester. The papers will be shared with other students and will be evaluated by the instructor according to the following criteria:
Use of sources. The paper should be based on substantial research — you should plan to drawing on academic books and articles, not on blogs or Wikipedia. The sources need to be used and documented in an appropriate way. In particular:
Use citations to support your claims.
Give credit where credit is due.
Do not misrepresent your sources.
Pick one citation style and use it consistently. (If you do not have a citation style you are strongly committed to, please use APA.)
See the following handout for more information: Citing Wikipedia.
Quality of the argument. The paper should present a coherent and original argument. In particular:
The paper should not merely summarize the sources, but rather should present an argument, i.e., make claims and provide support for them. This argument should be your own. You should be able to summarize the point of paper in a singe sentence that starts with “I argue that...” You should the be able to explain how your argument is different from those presented in the literature you have read. Your argument should ideally be interesting and even provocative, but not outrageous. (In other words, once a reader understands your claims, they should be interested in seeing how you are going to defend them, rather than either yawning or throwing your paper away as a crackpot theory.)
You should make it clear to the reader what your argument is. Further, they should be able to understand the essence of your argument without actually reading your entire paper. Stating your claims in the first paragraph and restating them in the conclusion is usually a good idea.
You should make it clear to the reader why they should care about your argument. Link your claims to larger issues.
The argument needs to be developed in your paper step by step. A reader who is sceptical of your argument at the outset should be moved towards agreement (or at least towards taking your claim more seriously than initially).
Your reader should be guided through your argument. Make it clear to the reader what you are doing and why. Don’t expect them to just figure it out.
Quality of writing. The paper should be well written. Being well written means your use of language should not stand in the way of the reader’s comprehension of your text, either by obfuscating the meaning or by drawing the reader’s attention from the content of your writing to its form. In particular:
The paper should be written in complete and grammatical English sentences and should be free of typos and spelling mistakes.
The paper should consist of paragraphs, normally 100–500 words in length, with each paragraph representing a well defined unit of meaning. In other words, it should be easy for the reader to see what idea is carried by each paragraph. Further, the point of the paragraph should be clear from the first few sentences. This allows the reader to decide whether they need to read this particular paragraph carefully (if at all). A reader who is following your argument may read the first sentence, understand where you are going, nod, and move to the next point. A reader who is sceptical of where you are going with your argument (or is struggling to understand it) may read the first sentence and realize that this particular paragraph requires a lot of attention. Paragraphs should follow each other logically. It should be easy to the reader to understand why a particular paragraph follows the previous one.
It is usually a good idea to break up your paper into sections and use section headings. Superhuman writers can get by without section headings, because they can grab the reader’s attention with the first sentence and carry it through the paper. The mortals, however, should expect that the reader’s attention is going to wonder off at times. Section headings help the reader keep track of where they are.
The paper should be written in a professional style targeting an educated audience. This means that you should avoid colloquial features (contractions, slang, informal grammar). You should use vocabulary that is appropriate for an educated audience. Ideally, your choice of vocabulary should be such that your fellow MI students would neither puzzled by the words you use nor find your vocabulary condescending. The same applies to sentence structure. Avoid sentences that are so complicated that the reader would have to read them twice to find the main clause. On the other hand, remember that you are writing for adults, not for children.
Use active voice. In addition to being much easier to comprehend, active voice encourages the writer to name the actors and thus avoid ambiguity and conceptual muddle. (A sentence such as “the printing press was developed in...” leaves it unclear who actually did the developing.) This applies to using yourself as a subject. “I argue that...” is much preferred to “It is argued that...” (If you prefer, you can write “We argue” or “This paper argues,” though both really are silly.)
Your writing should be concise. Make sure that every sentence is there for a reason. Avoid saying the same thing multiple times. A 6,000 word paper that says the same thing as an 8,000 word paper would likely get a better grade.
The due date for the final papers is going to be announced later, but will be some time during the week of April 10.
Late papers will be subject to the standard late policy.
Normally, students will be required to submit the term paper to TurnItIn for a review of textual similarity and detection of possible plagiarism. In doing so, students will allow their essays to be included as source documents in the Turnitin.com reference database, where they will be used solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. The terms that apply to the University’s use of the Turnitin.com service are described on the Turnitin.com web site.
Students who do not wish to use TurnItIn for submitting their work should approach the instructor to discuss alternative ways to establish the originality of the paper. This discussion needs to happen before the student begins working on the paper.
For information on how to use TurnItIn, please see this handout: turnitin_instructions.pdf.
You are expected to complete assignments on time. Assignment not submitted by the exact time when their are due will be considered late. (E.g., “17:00” means “17:00”, not “17:05.”)
Late memos will recieve half of the credit if submitted before the beginning of class. Memos not submitted by the time the class begins will not be accepted at all.
For all other assignments there will be a penalty of half a grade (e.g. from A to A–) for any assignment not submitted on time, with an an additional half-grade penalty deducted for any further 24 hours that the assignment is late. Work that is not handed in one week (168 hours) after it was due will not be accepted.
Graduating students are advised that late submission of the term paper can make it impossible for the final grade to be issued in time for graduation.
Students whose circumstances require special accommodations should approach the instructor at the earliest opportunity (ideally during the first week of the semester) to discuss the situation and the possible accommodations.