Course Outline

Part One: Voice & Identity

Week One January 5: Orientation

A general introduction to the course and its expectations, and an introduction to the idea of “personal cyberinfrastructure.” There are no tutorial sessions in the first week.

Assignments for next week:

  • Go to ReclaimHosting.com and set up your own domain and blog (WordPress). For detailed instructions on how to work through this process, please see the Hosting Setup page.
  • Send your URL to mike@despotovic.ca (Tutorials D101 and D102) or camilaf@sfu.ca (tutorials D103 and D104)
  • Write up a plan for the components of your own ‘personal cyberinfrastructure.’ What are the pieces you think you’ll use, and how do they fit together?
  • Map out your website, visualizing which components should be placed where. Where will your PUB 101 content live? This can be a diagram, a map, an infographic. Instagram it.
  • Begin to familiarize yourself with WordPress terms such as “categories”, “posts”, “pages”, “tags” etc. The earlier you are comfortable and at ease with WordPress/website terminology, the fewer problems you will encounter as you build the site and decide where to put things.

Readings for next week:

Week Two, January 12: The Publication of Self & the Creation of Publics

Due: Your domain name and URL must be emailed to Mike or Camila by the start of class.

Who are you? How would we know? What is your “voice”? Do you recognize it? Would others recognize it? What does the “publication of self” mean? When we put things out into the world, when we write in public, who is it for? Who do we imagine is going to read it? What is a public? Where do they come from? Is that the same thing as an audience? A community? A market?

Tutorial: Web hosting and blog/platform development. We will discuss tagging and its importance. We will cover how to cite (link) sources properly and avoid ‘plagiarism’. Citations, links, URLs, DOIs.

Assignment for next week:

Install WordPress and begin development of your blog and online presence. Journal your work, your decisions, your rationales; make sure you link out to at least a couple of other resources. Cite these properly, according to the course guidelines. Create your “About” section. This should be concise and clear. Consider this an invitation to your “house”. Is it compelling enough for people to knock on the door? If you are completely unfamiliar with coding and feel a need to acquaint yourself with the basics, visit this site.

Readings for next week:

Week Three, January 19: The Online Self. The Evolution of Blogging

We will look at John Suler’s “The Disinhibition Effect” and will consider examples of the various theories that Suler puts forth. How are they realized in our online selves? We will walk through the installation of Google Analytics.

Tutorial: Publishing online – basic tools and models. Students will install Google Analytics.

Readings for next week:

  • Shirky, Clay. 2009. “Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable.” Available from: http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2009/03/newspapers-and-thinking-the-unthinkable/

Week Four, January 26: The Age of Participatory Media

Guest Speaker: Ashleigh Gardner, Wattpad

Yochai Benkler and others have noted that one of the biggest effects of digital media is that the cost of organizing people has fallen sharply. A generation ago, it took thousands of dollars and access to the right people to get a campaign (of any kind) going. Today, campaigns and movements start organically, on social media. The implications for politics, law (e.g., copyright), marketing, and publishing are enormous. We will also discuss the growing use of digital  writing  sites such as Wattpad.

In-class Assignment: Speed dating for bloggers. Be prepared to sum up your website and online presence in a two to three minute “speed date”.  You will broken into groups of eight and will rotate around the classroom.

Readings for Next Week:

  • Shaw, Aaron & Benkler, Yochai. 2012. A Tale of Two Blogospheres: Discursive Practices on the Left and Right. American Behavioral Scientist.  56(4) 459–487. DOI: 10.1177/0002764211433793.

Part 2: Editorial, Design, Format

Week Five, February 2: How do Publishers Establish Voice, Identity, and Authority?

What is text? A thing you read, right? What is an author? Is text what an author writes? Dig into these questions, and it gets complicated. Furthermore, who owns it? Who owns the press, the means of production? What is a publisher? How has digital media changed these structures? Who is the online you? How do publishers create a unique presence in an increasingly crowded world of published content?

Tutorial: Building your site, customizing its look, functionality, and content. Expanding to other platforms, channels.

Assignments for next week:

  • Bearing in mind the feedback you received last week, revisit your About copy, Profile copy, Descriptions, etc. for your other platforms.
  • Begin to cross-link your various online components together, according to your own vision, and journal this.

Readings for Next Week:

  • Lamb, Brian. 2013. The Bucket has a Hole in it, let’s plug it.” Abject Learning, Mar 7, 2013. Available from: http://abject.ca/bucket/

(February 9: Reading Break)

Week Six, February 16: Editing & Editorial

What does an editor do? How is that different from a writer? The editorial role developed enormously through the twentieth century, but has become less clear in the age of massively multiplayer online publishing. The functions, virtues, and value of the editor have not gone away, however. An introduction to genres and rhetorical genre theory, after Carolyn Miller’s idea of genre as social action; genres as properties of discourse communities, publics.

Tutorial: Guerrilla editorial: someone else’s eyeballs; someone else’s ears. Reading out loud; reading backwards. Students will be asked to comment on randomly selected websites.

Assignment for Next Week:

Short Essay One: The first essay should deal with some aspect of the broad shift in society from print literacy to digital literacy. What do you think are the important features of this shift? How are these reflected in the kinds of publication we have been exploring in this class? Your essay should be at least 750 words (1250 maximum). It should be posted on your site (either as a page or a post). It needs to have at least four references, and they need to be properly cited. Use links where appropriate, too. Once again, quality of writing (grammar, usage, spelling etc.) will be assessed along with the strength of your argument, relevance to the assigned topic, and proper structure of the essay. Due February 23.

Readings for Next Week:

  • Bringhurst, Robert. 1991. The Elements of Typographical Style. Hartley & Marks. On reserve in Belzberg Library.

Week Seven, February 23: Approaching Design

Due Today: Essay One at 10 AM

Guest Speaker: Peter Cocking

Peter will lecture from 10:30 to 11:30. We will then have a short lecture, followed by regularly scheduled tutorials that will be led by Peter.

What shapes your experience of a text? The words themselves are only a part. The context, format, provenance, and design. How has the publisher shaped how you encounter it, both as a first impression and as a deeper engagement? But what is design? Is it something that we do with the work? Or something we do with the readers? We discuss publication design and interaction design and some basic development methods.

Tutorial: Discussion of practical design strategies, critiques of existing work, role of motifs and common elements. Peer review. Students will be assigned a colleague’s essay on which to conduct a review. This exercise is designed to be instructive and informative to both participants and instructors.

Assignment for Next Week:

Peer review. With an assigned peer from your tutorial, write (appreciatively, constructively) a review of their first essay. Link well, quote well. The review should assess the interpretation of the assignment, the strength of the argument and, use of supporting resources. Your review should be 400+ words and posted to your blog.

Readings for Next Week:

Part 3: Audiences, Markets, Metrics

Week Eight, March 1: The Global Picture

Due Today: Peer Review One

What is the size of the world? What is the nature of audiences today? We look at some global-scale numbers and trends, via Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends slide deck. We also explore some of ways in which the Internet makes the world a smaller place, and some of the ways in which distances remain. We will look at the role of analytics and how we measure our audiences. You will have had a few weeks now with Google Analytics. What are some of the more interesting findings? What are areas of concern?

Tutorial:  Google Analytics. Diving deeper into using GA. Students will be asked to highlight their findings.

Readings for Next Week:

Assignments for Next Week:

  • Create a story out of media: a sequence of images, an audio production, a video production. Avoid using text. Using constructive feedback review the design of a peer’s website.
  • Peer Review Two: With an assigned peer from your tutorial, write (appreciatively, constructively) a review of their website design and user experience. Link well, use resources from your readings please. The review should assess aesthetics (contrast, size, position, and various styling) as well as accessibility of intention (examples include getting from point A to B, integration of social media, link functions). Your review should be 400+ words and posted to your blog.

Week Nine, March 8: Multiple Channels & Media

Due Today: Multimedia story

Special guest speaker, Sam Hiyate, The Rights Factory. Sam will talk about “blogs to books” and other online trends to watch for from an agent’s perspective.

Due Today: Peer Review Two (design)

How do people read online? How do different channels reinforce each other? A key strategy for reaching audiences today is to “be in all places.” But is this effective?

Tutorial: Discussion of strategies for cross-media development and linking.  Looking at responsiveness on common devices and browsers.

Assignment for Next Week:

Continue developing a design treatment for your online self, and apply it across the components of your presence. On your blog, write up your design goals and the specific steps you will take to achieve them. Over the next two weeks we will work on design customizations.

Readings for Next Week:

Week Ten, March 15:  Measuring & Tracking

It’s what computers were invented to do: counting, measuring, and analyzing numerical data. Not surprisingly, it’s easy to get more data and data analysis than you know what to do with. We discuss Big data, little data, Google Analytics, and advertising’s relationship to audience measurement.

Tutorial: Reflecting on how companies track our behaviours. How do you adjust your behaviour based on the type of tracking being done?

Assignment for next week:

Remix.

Readings for next week:

Week Eleven, March 22: Marketing and Audience

Due Today: Remix Exercise

Guest speaker: Trevor Battye

The Internet can be seen as a mass of overlapping audiences or niches; that’s different from the older “mass media” model of the broadcast paradigm. Online communication seems to be more collaborative and participatory than print media ever was. Is there a difference between audiences and markets? If so, is that difference about money? Or about something else? We will discuss monetization of your website, using student examples and have a brief look at the Publication of the Professional Self.

Assignment for next week:

Peer Review Three: marketing potential. With an assigned peer from your tutorial, write (appreciatively, constructively) a review of their website’s marketability to their intended audience group (yes ask them who that is). Link well, use resources from your readings please. The review should assess headlines, opening words (i.e. the hook), social media integration, and most importantly: is this what the reader wants? Your review should be 400+ words and posted to your blog.

Tutorial: Discussion of revenue and monetization options.

Readings for next week:

  • Stadler, Matthew. 2010. “What is Publication?” Talk from the Richard Hugo House’s writer’s conference, Seattle, WA. May 21, 2010. Available from: http://vimeo.com/14888791

Week Twelve, March 29: The Evolution of Blogging 

Due Today: Peer Review Three (marketing)

Blogs have been around in some form or another since the 1990s. Almost everything about blogging has changed: the platforms, the subject matter, the type of content, and the demographics, while the only constant remains the reverse chronological ordering of content. We take a look at this progression since the mid-90s in order to understand the many facets of blogs.

We will have a look at the history of blogging and the current platforms and resources available to the online writer. What and who make up today’s “blogosphere”? How do you manage it? How do the formats and platforms affect the message itself?

Assignments for Next Week:

  • Think of some of the aspects of this course (or of things in the digital age) that you find of interest enough to share with the class. Please email the URL and a brief description (snorman@sfu.ca or mnd3@sfu.ca). We will wrap up the semester with a look at your interests and your thoughts on where the online publication of self will take you. If you would like to present to your classmates next week, please let us know.
  • Short Essay Two: Due April 5th

Readings for next week:

Week Thirteen, April 5: Beginnings and Endings

Due Today: Essay Two

We will have an open-ended discussion on the things you find interesting online. Is it the underbelly? Memes? The Disinhibition theory? Publics? New ways to publish? Authority? Infinite content possibilities?

This course has been about the publication of self; but what about our private, domestic, inner selves? Where do they exist in a pervasively networked world? Are these facets of human experience threatened? And how exactly does that play out along the lines of gender, class, race? Does privacy even matter anymore? Anonymity?