Communication & Media Major Assignment


1. 1300 Words – 1500 words max, double spaced. No Title Pages. Include your name, student number, the date and the title of your paper on Page 1. Times New Roman 12 pt font, or similar standard font, Standard Margins.

2. Minimum 4 ACADEMIC sources (**1 of these sources can be drawn from the course reading list. WIKIPEDIA IS NOT AN ACADEMIC SOURCE. Avoid using it.** You may look at the SOURCES at the bottom of Wikipedia pages. They are often reliable. List your BIBLIOGRAPHY at the end of the essay in APA Format.

3. You will need to include a very clearly defined INTRODUCTION—introducing your chosen topic, what you intend to argue in the course of your paper, and what you hope to establish through your argument. You will then need 4-5+ BODY PARAGRAPHS about your topic. These each address one element of your topic. You will also need to include a CONCLUSION, summing up your central argument.

1. Introduction – New Media and Protest (example)

2. Parag 1 – Arab Spring

3. Parag 2 – Censorship in Arab Spring

4. Parag 3 – China Umbrella Protests

5. Parag 4 – Success or Failure of China Protests

6. Parag 5 — Comparison

7. Conclusion

4. *Integrate ALL quotes (quotes cannot stand alone in your essay):?

a. As Smith (2000) says, “filmmakers often struggle against studios…” and they “choose to be independent for that reason” (Smith 12).?

b. “Filmmakers often struggle against studios” (Smith 2000, 12).?

You must use “quotes” for quotes, and cite PAGE NUMBERS (Narine 2012, 12), unless there is no page and you can cite (Narine 2012, n.p.). Avoid patchwriting. Write in your own words, except when quoting.

Suggested Essay Topics

The History of the Internet is now quite well known. Arpanet began as a military file sharing system, and big companies like Rand began to work on computers “talking” to one another from different locations. Many people claim credit for computer advancements from the 1960s-2010s. Throughout this period, many creative inventors worked on computer languages, “telephony” technology to communicate, hardware inventions, and pre-internet computer languages that helped create the Internet. Many of these people were women. A. Do some research on these women, from any period. B. Select 2 or 3 of them to focus on, and outline in detail their work in computer research and development. C. Explain what they invented and how it works (you do not need deep Computer Science knowledge), and note what their invention does. You will still have to form a Thesis about why their invention matters, and perhaps why the contribution has been overlooked.

“Techno-optimistic” thinker Yochai Benkler has argued that New Media creates new networks and communities. He claims that while new technologies can offer new and unforeseen possibilities for collaboration, creativity and even success in business and the arts. This is a “techno-optimistic” opinion, based on years of research. Drawing on this argument, assess how new media is forming new social networks and communities. Is it also limiting social networks to those with similar interests or backgrounds? A. Conduct some research, searching for 3 examples of technologies that have been good for society (from the world of computing, New Media and IT generally—it could be anything like Twitter, or Privacy Settings, or Automated Security Computers in Airports, or Self-Driving Cars). B. Generate a “techno-optimistic” thesis in which you use these 3 examples to suggest that New Media and computing technologies are overall good for society. You can still mention any negative sides to them as well.

The Network Society has appeared in the post-war years, with the rise of increased international trade, international communication, and international travel. The Network Society we live in is connected through the Internet and computers, but it is also a “social” formation which connects people through tourism, business and even university exchange programs like the ones some of you are registered in. All of this connects us. There are many good things about this new society—what do you think they are? There are also many bad things about the Network Society, like the “unfair trade” and business practices we looked about concerning Diamonds, Coffee, and Coltan for Technology like our phones. The film “Dukale’s Dream” was focused on, about a coffee farmer making little money in the Network Society. A. Define the Network Society, perhaps using Castells or a major definition. B. Outline some good and bad things about the Network Society. C. Develop a Thesis arguing that overall the Network Society is good for us, or bad for us, based on the examples you choose (ie, the coffee business is globally networked, but leaves farmers poor, and Starbucks rich. Or, smart phones connect us globally, but leave us disconnected from other people sitting beside us).

Identity Online can seem to be anonymous, and hide our true selves. But no matter how “digital” we become, the continuing problem of social inequality along racial lines, national lines and economic (rich and poor) lines continues. Lisa Nakamura shows how identity online matters, using examples of a black online gamer who is identified and insulted by other players, and noting how Gold Farming is seen to be done by Chinese players, even though many people collect coins in WoW. A popular TV show, “Catfish” (online at MTV) now shows how people lie about their identity online. The hosts “catch” the people lying about themselves. Old men pretend to be young women, and entire online relationships happen. A. Do some research and develop a Thesis about whether the notion of identity has really changed with the popularization of the Internet. B. Select 2 or 3 examples (not Nakamura’s) from the news, or online platforms like games or YouTube or social media or Anonymous / Wikileaks, that show how identity matters in the age of New Media.

Remix and Mashup Culture encompasses the people who re-edit, re-draw and re-use existing, commercial culture. People make The Avengers into children, or re-write Harry Potter so Harry and Hermione end up together. The DJs who mix music also combine songs from Elvis Presley and Queen and anyone else to make “new” songs. Robin Thicke and Sam Smith were sued, and lost, for stealing their songs. Remix culture is seen as “subcultural” uses of existing culture, a way in which an often marginalized group of people challenge mainstream culture and relationships of power. A. Do some research into Remix and Mashup culture, and develop a thesis about its purpose and function. B. Select 2 or 3 examples of Remixes or Mashups that change the original song, movie, book, TV show, game etc. and outline why remixing culture matters in the age of New Media.

Protest Culture is now often organized through New Media. A Facebook group is used to create most protests among young people in Canada, and Twitter is used to “live tweet” protests and to generate hashtags about social issues, from #blacklivesmatter to #oscarssowhite. YouTube even hosts video of crime and inequality that people post to create awareness. We addressed the Arab Spring uprising of 2011 and the ongoing Police Violence issues in the United States. A. Do some research into social protests that have used social and new media platforms, and generate a Thesis about whether it was effective. B. Select 2 or 3 examples of protests, in any country on any issue, that used social media to organize—how did they do it? Where they censored, as in Russia and China? What was the “real life” element that drew people into the streets? What was the outcome of the protest?

Big Data is the term for huge amounts of data, and the practice of studying huge amounts of data, usually about people, our habits and our preferences. Facebook has data on 2 Billion people now. Facebook knows our favourite books, movies and photos. That is big data. Other platforms like Facebook do similar things, storing our data even if we delete our account. Sometimes these media sites claim to “own” our pictures and videos. The University of Toronto even does “big data” research on all of us, trying to learn from us about our preferences. This research may change everything on campus, from food options to transit options and campus events. A. Do some research on big data, and define it. B. Select 2 or 3 examples of big data research, done by social media sites, or big corporations like Google, or by institutions and governments. Outline in your paragraphs how this way of studying us might be good or bad for society over all, or serve corporations better than people. It is up to you whether you focus on the positive or negative elements.

Selfie was the “word of the year” entered into the Oxford English Dictionary. Selfies are self-taken photos. They are usually posted online. And they are usually at odd angles, not entirely accurate, typically making people look thinner, cuter, using filters etc. Selfies are posted many times per day by celebrities on Social Media – i.e., Angelina Jolie, Bono, Jackie Chan, Katy Perry, Psy, whoever. These people listed have become spokespeople for meaningful social change, each with a social cause. Sometimes a selfie is posted with a note, as Michelle Rodriguez has done concerning The Fast and the Furious movies needing more women. She used her selfie to make a feminist argument, since women are paid less in Hollywood. A. Conduct a history of the selfie – you will find the first one from the 1800s—and generate a thesis about what the selfie means. B. Can these pictures be used by public people to promote causes like Environmentalism, Democracy, Feminism, Equality, Peace, AIDS and Health Research and Issues, or any other social issue? Can the selfie be trusted, or is it seen as partly fake? How is the selfie used differently by us, among friends and family? Is the selfie used to brag about where we are on vacation, or how we look? What kinds of comments accompany the selfie?

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