Blog post 8: Digital outlaws

This week’s articles are difficult. I will not apologize for that. You signed up for graduate school, after all! You are supposed to struggle with new ideas that are challenging to understand. Through that struggle, you learn. These articles present such ideas.

Ideas in these two articles sit at the core of changes occurring in democratic societies — which are, of course, bound up with the market economy, which is bound up with digital technologies.

Read both articles thoroughly. I expect you to look up and research ideas you are not familiar with — for example, historical materialism and technological determinism. You can’t really understand Söderberg’s article if you don’t know what those terms mean. So research them!

Your deadline for posting is Monday, Oct. 24, at 9 a.m. 

SLUG: The TITLE of your blog post this week must start with the words “Digital outlaws.” You may use additional words after those.

Content of the post: Keeping in mind the word limit for a blog post (500 words), use about half of your post to explain one key idea or foundational concept from one of the two articles (see the lists below). Use the other half of your post to do the same for the OTHER article. That is, explain a different idea or concept that comes from the other article. Do your best to be clear and helpful. You have the opportunity to help your classmates understand the article better by doing this. That should be your goal.

DO NOT QUOTE more than ONE SENTENCE from each article. You may choose ONE sentence per article, but no more than one. I recommend that you choose a sentence that either introduces what you want to explain, or that serves as a conclusion after your explanation is complete.

DO NOT paraphrase what the author wrote. USE YOUR OWN WORDS. This requires you to understand what you are writing about, and that’s what I expect. I don’t want you to tell us what the author said. I want you to explain what the author is talking about.

DO NOT bring in Wikipedia definitions, or dictionary definitions. You may look at outside texts, but I want you to explain what OUR ASSIGNED ARTICLES are about, not just slap down some stiff, lifeless definitions without any context. If you do use any outside sources, you must LINK TO THEM in your post. (Note: I do not want to see links just for the sake of links. If it’s not useful, don’t link it. Links are not required. Do not link something you did not read.)

Key ideas and concepts in Söderberg (2013): 

  • technological determinism (you need not mention Marxism); indeterminacy
  • hackers and hacktivists
  • “the cathedral and the bazaar” as economic model
  • free/open-source software as a political statement
  • post-industrialism and the information society
  • collective action framing

DO NOT attempt to explain Marxist thought. That is too large a topic for 250 words.

Key ideas and concepts in John (2014): 

  • use of the term “piracy”
  • relationship of scarcity and abundance in an economic sense
  • “the commons” (Hardin, 1968; Ostrom, 1990)
  • rival and non-rival “goods”

Note: You cannot write about “sharing” alone, because John’s entire article is about that.

If you need any clarification about this assignment, please make a comment on this post. I will answer it here.


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