Course Description – Let’s Talk About Miiverse (9.1)

This class examines the relationship between writing and technology. We will investigate this dynamic historically, socially, and politically by comparing the early evolution of writing technologies (such as tablets, scrolls, and letters) to contemporary technologies and applications (such as Instagram, WhatsApp, and Snapchat). We will address these technologies neither as holly “good” or “evil” in and of themselves though we will acknowledge patterns (positive and negative) in the way these technologies are put to use.

We will loosely discuss this incredibly broad topic through the concept of “information overload.” Information overload is not a new concept; on the contrary, it is embedded in the very relationship between communication and technology. The television, the telephone, the printing press, and even the birth of alphabetic writing were all accompanied by periods of distrust and frustration. By studying the flow of these cultural anxieties, we will land on the subject of negotiation. How do current applications change/complicate our ideas of effective writing? In what cases have professional writers negotiated digital spaces productively? What can we learn from them?