CS345U       Fall 2009
Cyberculture: The Internet and Popular Culture
This page is stored at cs.pdx.edu/~len/345



If you are reading this for the first time, begin with Course information and assignments, which can be found below the course schedule.



The schedule doesn’t have dates because, this being the first time I’ve taught this course or anything like it, I don’t know how long we’ll spend on each topic.  I’ll fill in dates online as the course progresses.  You may need to ctrl-click to activate the blue links.

I will present the lecture in class and one person will be assigned to present each discussion article.  You will get more from the class if you read the discussion articles before class and print out the lecture slides so you can take notes on them.



Discussion Articles

Date Begun


Intro.ppt  What are: Computer, Network, Internet, Web.   Principles of the Web



The Power of Groups


Example Application: Wikipedia

Other Wikimedia projects, yelp, yahoo answers, epinions


Can a group answer a question better than an expert?

Can a group design a recipe? Caleb D

How does a group think? Jarrod D

Can a group write a newspaper? Brendan D

Does a group have taste? Zach D

Can you trust a group opinion? Shawn D And here

Does collaboration improve quality?(2)

What is popular on Wikipedia and why? Matt ?(2)D

What changes are taking place on Wikipedia? Steven D

Is Wikipedia a fad? Compy D


The Power of Search


Example Application: Google

Other Google projects, other search engines

What is real time search? Adam Seeberger D

What is the future of search?



Social Net­working


Example Application: Facebook

Other Applications: MySpace, Twitter

What is the future of social networking?(2)

What’s wrong with Facebook?

Why do people use Twitter? Kevin D

What are some social implications of social networks? Julie D

Does your social network affect your health?

Can social networks bring democracy? Christopher D

Is Facebook growing too fast?(2)

Is Facebook a fad?

Does Facebook make you jealous? Leslie D

Why do people use FaceBook? Boris D

Etiquette starts evolving on Facebook, Twitter Russell D

How private are Facebook users? Melissa D


Complex Systems

Guest Speaker: Prof. Melanie Mitchell





Example: YouTube

Other Examples: Hulu, Pandora

What is Copyright Law?

What is fair use?

How can music use the web to succeed? (2) Hans D

How common are stolen videos? Renee D

Can you make a living from YouTube? Russell D

Why is Hulu a success? Christina D

What is the state of online music? Dawn D




Application: Google Reader

Technorati, RSS – Better than Email

How important are blogs in journalism? Renee D

What is the role of blogs in Marketing? (2)Robert D

Is journalism dead? Dawn D

Exterminate the Parasites Compy D


Tags and Folk­sono­mies


Application: Delicious

Other Applications:  Photobucket






Application: Adwords

Other applications: Amazon, Ebay


How has the Internet changed business? Cody D

Can you do business on Facebook? Evelina D

What can we learn from Google’s purchase of YouTube? Richard  D

I now pronounce you monetized.

Is there any future in want ads?

How can one monetize comedy? Jarrod D

What is the long tail? (2) Ryan D

What part does the Internet play in purchasing behavior? Hans D


Virtual Worlds


Application: Second Life

Other Applications: World of Warcraft


Does gender affect role playing behavior? (2) Lomesh D

Will Virtual Worlds take over from Reality? Leslie D

Virtual Worlds don’t exist (2) Pierre D





Privacy vs control, push vs pull. Caitlin D

Is Street View an invasion of your privacy? Christina D

What is Behavioral Targeting and why should you worry about it? Christopher D

Collective Intelligence and privacy. Hans

Are we losing the war for privacy? Cody D

Can your employer read your text messages?

Do you want personalized ads? Brendan D


Inter­net Redux


Can a successful application ignore the Web’s principles?(2) Adam Thomas D

Has the Internet destroyed my mind? Kevin D

Will the Internet stifle innovation?(2) Caleb D

The Internet is saving me a fortune! Julie D

The futur e of the Web, by its inventor. Shawn R. D

Is the Internet making us asocial? Steven D

Is the Internet a sweatshop? Zach D

Will the Internet destroy our bodies? Caitlin D

Why is the Internet growing so fast?  Richard S. D




INSTRUCTOR: Len Shapiro, email: len at pdx.edu, 503/725-4208.

CLASS: Tuesdays 5:30-9:10PM, beginning Sept 29, in FAB 40-07.

OFFICE HOURS: Tuesdays 4-4:50PM, Thursdays 10:30-11:20AM and any time I am in my office. My office is FAB 115-13, up the stairs from the classroom.  If I am with someone in my office please knock on the door and introduce yourself so I can triage. I'd also be happy to make an appointment to see you at a time and place convenient to you – we can arrange that by email or after class.

PREREQUISITES: Sophomore Inquiry course in Popular Culture.

GOALS: At the end of this course I want each of you to be a more intelligent and successful user of the Internet, to understand how the internet works, to be aware of the wide variety of applications that exist on the internet, and to understand the primary principles that underlie the success the Internet has had in changing popular culture.  This is not a course about the culture of the Internet – for that, see http://tinyurl.com/dnd94y .  On the first day of class I will ask you what other goals, if any, you may have for our course.

CATALOG DESCRIPTION: Study of the effect of computers and the internet on popular culture. Typical topics will include history and technologies of the web, social networks, the long tail in business and culture, the power of groups, user generated content, complex systems, virtual worlds and the power of search.

EXPERIMENT: This is the first time I’ve taught this course, or any course remotely like this.  I don’t think there is any course quite like this taught anywhere in the world.  Thus we are participating in an experiment.  Please help me make it a success.  I will appreciate your coming to class and participating in discussions, bringing to class any materials that you feel will contribute to our goals, and being prepared for midstream changes as we discover what works best.

GRADING: There will be two homework assignments and a project.  Each counts for one quarter of your grade.  In class I will assign you to read articles and ask you to lead class discussion on those articles.  Class participation counts for another quarter of your grade.  There is no final exam in the course.

TEXT: There is no text for the course.  You can find all readings on the Internet.

DRC:  Students with disabilities who are in need of academic accommodations should contact me as soon as possible to arrange needed supports.  Students are also encouraged to contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) for additional information on  support services and available accommodations at 503/725-4240 or 503 725-4150.

CHEATING: All the work you hand in must be written by you, or you must cite a reference. Violation of this rule will result in a grade of zero on that assignment, and a letter to the Dean of Students for possible further consequences.

MAIL: I will use your Banner mailing address to communicate with you.

FLU: Please take the five action steps recommended here to prevent the spread of the flu: http://www.shac.pdx.edu/H1N1/H1N1syllabi.pdf .  According to this university directive http://www.shac.pdx.edu/H1N1/H1N1classrmpolicy_092109.pdf if you exhibit any of these symptoms in class I must ask you to leave: fever (have chills, feel very warm, have a flushed appearance, or are sweating), headache, tiredness, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches.

CS MAJORS: This course, or any Junior Cluster course ending in U, cannot be used to fulfill the upper division CS electives requirement for CS majors.


THANKS: To Joseph Bradshaw, Grace Dillon, Bart Massey, Martha Balshem, Bob Liebman, Elayne Shapiro, Joe Shapiro and Dan Shapiro for their help in developing this course.




In-Class Presentations

Each of you will choose at least two articles from the “Discussion Articles” column above to present to the class.  If you choose a journal article it will count as two articles.  Your presentation can be free form - it does not have to be based on slides.  You should first present the main ideas of the article.  Convey all the facts and concepts in the article.  If there are links in the article, follow them and explain what is in them.   Then you should lead a discussion, by asking questions of the class to bring out the class’s thoughts about the article.


October 13                First Cyberculture Log due

November 24         Second Cyberculture Log due


Both assignments should be submitted in class at the beginning of lecture on the due date, typed, 12 pt. font.  Late assignments should be submitted to my office (under the door if it is closed) and are penalized 10% per late day unless you have permission from me before the due date.


With each Cyberculture Log, you will be documenting one full day of all the applications you come into contact with on the Internet, so it will be important for you to plan ahead and give yourself enough time to document a full day.  (You may use 2 or 3 days if you wish.)


Both Cyberculture Logs will include three items, a Ledger, an Essay, and a What If.  The second log will also include a fourth item, a New Applications discussion.


A Ledger is a relatively complete list of all the applications you used on the Internet, on one single day, from the time you get up from the time you go to bed.  The ledger will not include applications that you access as part of your job, or telephone calls, or that you access exclusively as part of course work, or that do not access the internet, such as word processing, music that is stored locally (on your iPod or other computer), spreadsheet, scanning, printing, bookkeping or calculating programs, unless you access the internet within these applications.  The ledger will include anything you access with a browser, any music that you access over the Internet, or chat.

This Ledger will not be easy to keep, because people normally multitask; they switch between multiple tasks at the same time.  No one has a whole day that looks like

9-9:15 email

9:15-9:25 Google

9:25-9:45 Facebook …

Instead, people spend a lot of time switching between using email, Google, Facebook, and perhaps other programs, giving a few minutes to each one.  Don’t worry about being precise, just be as accurate as you can.  Therefore you should keep a ledger that looks like this:

            Email 10+5+3

            Youtube 15+3

            Google 2+10+4

            Facebook 20+5+25 …

This means that you spent 10 minutes on email, then after other items you spent another 5 minutes on email, then later you spent about 3 minutes on email.  That is, don’t worry about when you accessed an application, just keep track as best you can of how long you spent on each one.  The ledger you hand in will include only the totals, so it will look like

            Email 125

            YouTube 45

            Google 36 …

meaning that during your Ledger day you spent a total of 125 minutes on Email, a total of 45 minutes on YouTube, etc.  It should be in order, that is, the most used application on top, the second most used application next, etc.  Please explain with a few words any sites that are not well known.

If you worry that your day is not typical, feel free to record another day and take the average of two days, or chuck the first one and use the second one.


The second part of your assignment is a short Essay of 300-500 words.  Comment on what, if any, results in your ledger were surprising to you.  Comment on how the material you have learned in class has affected your use of Internet applications.  Discuss their ledgers with other students in class and comment on how theirs differs from yours and what you have learned from this difference.


The third part of your assignment is a What If discussion of 300-500 words.  I want you to pick the top 2 applications on your ledger and discuss how you would manage if they were not available to you for a week and you could not use the Internet to substitute for them.  What would be the social and cultural implications to you if these programs were not available for a week and you could not use any Internet-based applications as substitutes?


The fourth part of your assignment, for the second log only, is a 300-500 word discussion of what New Applications have appeared in your ledger that you did not use before this course.  Discuss the social and cultural implications of what you have been able to do with these new applications that you were not able to do before.



For the ledger, I am checking that the applications are internet applications.  If you enter something like “Quicken” be sure to note that it was when Quicken accessed the Internet, e.g. when you downloaded transactions.  For the Essay, What If and New Applications, I am looking for correct spelling and grammar (feel free to use the writing center at www.writingcenter.pdx.edu ) and that you have engaged with the material of the class.


December 1             Wikipedia Project due


The Wikipedia Project will be presented by your team in class on December 1, the last day of class.  You will hand in a hardcopy report at the beginning of your presentation .


Not long ago, most people got most of their information from credentialed experts.  Now most people get most of their information from amateurs via the internet.  In this assignment you’ll learn how hard or easy it is to contribute to this pool of amateurs.  You will form a team of 2-4 students and add a new article or articles, or add substantial content to an existing article or articles, on Wikipedia.