Society, Technology & the Future
Monday/Wednesday: 2:30pm – 4:20pm
Office: O’Connor 336
Office Hours: Mon/Wed 10:30 – 12:30 or by appointment
Phone: (508) 626-4864
It’s easy to take for granted that we live in a world of 24/7 mobile communication. Yet, this relatively recent development is having profound impacts on how we live. Even though most of us spend significant time on our phones, tablets, and laptops – texting, emailing, posting on social media, web surfing, and watching videos – we rarely consider the dramatic effects of this revolution in digital technology. The course aims to do just that, encouraging you to think about how your own technology use connects to broader social trends.
There is nothing you need to buy for the course – everything is posted here!
* Please bring assigned material to class. Either print it or bring a device to class so you can access it electronically.
As a way of encouraging you to think about assigned material in advance of class and to facilitate rich discussions, you are to post on Blackboard in advance of the class meetings indicated on the schedule below.
To be eligible for full credit, please post your reading response no later than 10am on the date we’ll be discussing the material you wrote about. That deadline will enable me to read your posts and draw upon your ideas in our discussions. I will give partial credit for reading responses posted between 10am and the start of class, but no credit for posts made once class begins.
Your write-up should have two parts:
- A 2-3 paragraph critique of the reading – which differs from a summary. Whereas a summary highlights main points in the reading, a critique takes the discussion in a direction of your choosing. It explores themes or issues the reading raised for you. There are several ways you can frame your critique.
— Something you found interesting and why.
— Something you found confusing and why.
— An important topic left unexplored.
— Strengths/weaknesses of a study’s methodology.
— How a concept or idea applies to your own life.
- Raise 2 or more questions for our class discussion. These should not be “yes/no” questions but instead “how” or “why” questions, since these generate more discussion.
I understand sometimes there are justifiable reasons for missing a class, but if you miss more than two it will affect your grade. If you have to be absent, please let me know. There is no need to give me a doctor’s note. It is your responsibility to catch up on material you missed.
GRADING AND EVALUATION:
Your final grade will be based on the following:
Given the Sociology Department’s commitment to maintaining the highest academic standards, students should be aware of the University’s policies concerning academic honesty, which are stated in the undergraduate catalog: “Integrity is essential to academic life. Consequently, students who enroll at Framingham State University agree to maintain high standards of academic honesty and scholarly practice. They shall be responsible for familiarizing themselves with the published policies and procedures regarding academic honesty.” Infractions include plagiarism, cheating on exams and quizzes, unauthorized collaboration with other students, and submitting work in more than one course for academic credit without prior approval of the instructor. The FSU Catalog defines plagiarism as “claiming as one’s own work the published or unpublished literal or paraphrased work of another.” Penalties for academic dishonesty may include receiving a failing grade for the course, academic suspension, and dismissal from the University.
NOTICE OF NON-DISCRIMINATION AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY:
By taking this class, you agree to abide by Framingham State University’s policy of non-discrimination and equal opportunity. The University is dedicated to providing educational, working, and living environments that value the diverse backgrounds of all people. The Massachusetts Civil Rights Act (“MCRA,” M.G.L. c. 12, §§ 11H, 11I, 11J) protects the rights of all residents of and visitors to Massachusetts to be free from bias-motivated threats, intimidation, and coercion that interfere with their civil rights. The MCRA protects the right to attend school, live peacefully, and enjoy other basic rights.
How can we begin to look closely and critically at our digital lives?
Wednesday, September 4th
What are the consequences of multitasking with digital technology?
Monday, September 9th
*READING RESPONSE #1 DUE
Wednesday, September 11th ***Meet in the McCarthy Center Forum
*GUEST PRESENTATION: Katherine Behar will discuss her exhibit “Backups,” followed by a tour of the exhibit and a reception.
What does identity mean in an era when it is a never-ending performance?
Monday, September 16th
*READING RESPONSE #2 DUE
How does virtual communication affect the quality of face-to-face relationships?
Wednesday, September 18th
*READ: Andrew K. Przybylski and Netta Weinstein, “Can You Connect with Me Now? How the Presence of Mobile Communication Technology Influences Face-to-Face Conversation Quality.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships July 2012 1-10.
*READING RESPONSE #3 DUE
Monday, September 23rd
Wednesday, September 25th
Monday, September 30th
No class – Rosh Hashanah
Why have so many people become addicted to their mobile devices?
Wednesday, October 2nd
*SCREENED IN CLASS: Tristan Harris, “How Better Tech Could Protect Us from Distraction.”
*READING RESPONSE #4 DUE
Monday, October 7th
Wednesday, October 9th
No class – Yom Kippur
Monday, October 14th
No class – Columbus Day
*Midterm paper due by noon.
What kinds of opportunities become possible when you take time away from the digital world?
Wednesday, October 16th
*SCREENED IN CLASS: Manoush Zomorodi, “How Boredom Can Lead to Your Most Brilliant Ideas”
*SCREENED IN CLASS: Adam Alter, “Why Our Screens Make Us Less Happy”
What are the consequences of searching online for intimate connections?
Monday, October 21st
*SCREENED IN CLASS: Barry Schwartz, “The Paradox of Choice”
Wednesday, October 23rd
*SCREENED IN CLASS: “Her”
Monday, October 28th
*READING RESPONSE #5 DUE
What effects does growing up with digital devices have on mental health?
Wednesday, October 30th
*READ: Jean M. Twenge, Gabrielle M. Martin, and W. Keith Campbell, “Decreases in Psychological Well Being Among American Adolescents After 2012 and Links to Screen Time During the Rise of Smartphone Technology.” Emotion 2018 18(6): 765–780.
*READ: Melissa G. Hunt, Rachel Marx, Courtney Lipson, and Jordyn Young, “No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 2018 37(10): 751-768.
*READING RESPONSE #6 DUE
Monday, November 4th
No class – I will be attending a memorial service.
Wednesday, November 6th
*READING RESPONSE #7 DUE
Monday, November 11t
No class – Veterans Day
What is significant about the digital divide?
Wednesday, November 13th
*READ: Marina Micheli, “What is New in the Digital Divide? Understanding Internet Use by Teenagers from Different Social Backgrounds.” In Communication and Information Technologies Annual (Studies in Media and Communications 2015, Edited by Laura Robinson, Shelia R. Cotten, Jeremy Schulz, Timothy M. Hale, and Apryl Williams.
*READING RESPONSE #8 DUE
How does the global interconnectedness of digital technology erode privacy?
Monday, November 18th
*READING RESPONSE #9 DUE
*SCREENED IN CLASS:
How is the internet a divisive force? Part 1: The polarization of social and political life
Wednesday, November 20th
*READING RESPONSE #10 DUE
How is the internet a divisive force? Part 2: A forum for fomenting hate
Monday, November 25th
*READ: Ira Silver, “Have Kids Gotten Meaner? An Up-close Look at Cyberbullying and Suicide.” Chapter 12 in Seeing Social Problems: The Hidden Stories Behind Contemporary Issues. SAGE Publications, 2020.
Wednesday, November 27th
No class – Thanksgiving break
Monday, December 2nd
*SCREENED IN CLASS: Jon Ronson, “How One Tweet Can Ruin Your Life”
*SCREENED IN CLASS: Andrew Marantz, “Inside the Bizarre World of Internet Trolls and Propagandists” (14:29)
Wednesday, December 4th
*SCREENED IN CLASS: Yasmin Green: How Technology Can Fight Extremism and Online Harassment” (13:33)
*SCREENED IN CLASS: Safiya Noble, “Challenging the Algorithms of Oppression” (12:18)
How is the internet a force for progress?
Monday, December 9th
*READING RESPONSE #11 DUE
Wednesday, December 11th
Monday, December 16th
*Final paper due