Week 1: Starting your blog – 2017

To complete the assignment that is due on Monday morning, Aug. 28, you will first need to set up a new blog at WordPress.com.

If you already have a blog, DO NOT use that one. You must set up a NEW blog to be used only for this course.

Follow this Quick Start Guide. Or, if you need more help, use the more detailed Get Started guide. Choose the FREE plan. No need to pay.

Make sure you WRITE and SAVE both your username and password for WordPress.com. If you forget your username, you will lose your blog.

NOTE: In Step 2, “Find a custom address,” go to the bottom and select “No thanks.” DO NOT PAY.

If you already have a WordPress.com site, simply log in at WordPress.com and create a new blog using the same account. Do that here.

Required work:

  1. After you have created your NEW blog, please write and publish a new post in it that briefly introduces you. What are you studying at UF, why are you taking this course, what’s your hometown, etc. Be sure to include your real first and last name so I can see who you are! The post can be quite short, e.g. 100 words.
  2. Please give the post an intelligent title.
  3. Check your blog site (blogname.wordpress.com) to make sure the new post is visible.
  4. After you complete steps 1–3, copy the complete URL of your blog from the Web browser address bar and paste it into a comment on THIS post (which you are reading right now).
  5. Add a photo of your face (large face) and your full name to your WordPress.com account. Do it here.

Complete this task list before midnight on Friday, Aug. 25, so that you have ample time to complete the OTHER work that is due on Monday at 9 a.m.

Note: Don’t worry if you do not see your comment appear below immediately after you post it. I have to approve it before it appears, which means I need to see a little notice that WordPress sends to my email. As I am not staring at my email every minute of the day, it might take some time before your comment appears here.

Advertisements

First week: How to access the course readings

I’m happy to announce that all the articles for this semester are available now in ARES Course Reserves (see link at right).

PLEASE NOTE that to get access to the articles, in most cases you MUST be logged into the UF VPN.

Find out HOW TO INSTALL THE UF VPN client. Or save time and simply download the UF VPN client installer. (The UF library has some additional information about the UF VPN.)

If you have any trouble with the VPN, contact the UF Computing Help Desk.

Most articles have a convenient link that says “View this item.” In most cases, this link will take you to a page that shows only the abstract for the article. On that same page, you can find a link to download the PDF of the complete article.

In all cases, you will have FREE access to the PDF file, or to a Web page containing the article. You do NOT need to pay for ANY articles (but you must be logged in with the VPN to get this free access).

Updates for fall 2017

The following pages have been updated for fall 2017:

The readings are 90 percent set. I might swap out one or two of the previous reading assignments and replace it, or them, with new readings. That will be decided before our first class meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 23. You can see last year’s readings. When the readings are all set, I’ll upload a new PDF.

Students will have an assignment due on Monday, Aug. 28, so it’s important to come to the first class and get the details.

Topics in this course:

  • Activism (especially online)
  • Algorithms in everyday life
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Democratic rights and freedoms
  • Foreign policy (public diplomacy)
  • Hackers/digital piracy
  • Mobile Internet
  • Privacy (Facebook, Google)
  • Remix/copyright (creative works)
  • Surveillance (by governments)
  • Twitter as a public forum / #blacklivesmatter
  • Viral media

More things about algorithms

Here’s the brand-new series of articles about algorithms, published by investigative powerhouse ProPublica (very relevant to this week’s topic!):

screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-10-55-32-am

Here’s the Khan Academy course about algorithms (in class, I showed the first video from this course, which gives examples of various kinds of algorithms):

algorithms

Also shown: Google Trends and Explore Google Trends; and FAQs about trends on Twitter.

We mentioned “brute force” algorithms (e.g. for winning at checkers) vs. machine-learning algorithms, which were necessary for this amazing achievement: How the Computer Beat the Go Master (March 2016).

TED Talk by Wael Ghonim

This is the video I mentioned in class, in which Wael Ghonim discusses how the Internet must change to support social change in the world. Wael was mentioned in the Week 3 readings as the well-known creator of the Facebook page “We Are All Khaled Said,” which helped to unite Egyptians in a mass protest during the Arab Spring in 2011. Thanks to Osama for this link!

An added note: In an article I like very much, scholar Merlyna Lim expands on the “We Are All Khaled Said” example:

Previous movements in Egypt “had already created a basis for a mass political action. Indeed the story of Khaled Said can also be read as a culmination of the longstanding online campaign against torture waged on blogs such as Wael Abbas’s Egyptian Awareness, Nael Atef’s Torture in Egypt, and Bloggers Against Torture. However, the critical new important element introduced by the “We are all Khaled Said” movement was a strong symbolic representation, an iconic figure to fight against the authorities” (Lim, 2012, p. 241; boldface added).

Think carefully before you claim that one blog or one hashtag started a movement! There is often a long history of activism before the spark that lit the fire.

How effective is surveillance?

Here is a short article from ProPublica, a well-respected independent non-profit news organization:

What’s the Evidence Mass Surveillance Works? Not Much (Nov. 18, 2015)

Very pertinent to yesterday’s presentation and discussion.

Transparency is a big issue: The government claims surveillance has helped to prevent some attacks, but no evidence is given. We are simply supposed to believe the claim because the government said so.

When we talk about political participation in Hong Kong

One of this week’s articles, by Leung and Lee (2014), can be discussed in the context of the 2014 Hong Kong protests, in which tens of thousands of people shut down Hong Kong’s CBD (Central Business District) by camping out in tents, sitting, walking, and holding signs, starting in September. Police drove the protesters away with relatively little violence more than two months later in mid-December 2014.

This popular video (it has 556,000+ views) gives a fast and accurate summary of Hong Kong’s relationship to mainland China and provides some context for why the protests took place.

It’s 6 min. 37 sec. and well worth the time. If you want to skip the history of Hong Kong and go straight to the part about the 2014 protest action, go to 03:40 in the video and play from there. But the first half is really good too.

The English subtitles on this video are great, by the way. Chinese subtitles are also provided!