Communication Technology: Themes of Utopia and Dystopia
The class will be broken up into an even number of groups of about 5-6 students. Each group will be given a prompt aimed at provoking utopian or dystopian sentiments about various communication technologies.
Please create a list of reasons why Facebook could be considered a helpful communication technology. Remember to keep in mind ways the ways in which it effects individuals, communities (both local and non-local), and society as a whole.
Please create a list of reasons why Facebook could be considered a damaging communication technology. Remember to keep in mind the ways in which it effects individuals, communities (both local and non-local), and society as a whole.
Technologies should be those which are familiar to undergraduates other ideas include cell phones, blogs, pod casts, etc., for as many separate questions as needed for the size of the class.
Students will have approximately 10-15 minutes to brainstorm and develop a list. Then each group will be asked to present their list. This list will be compiled on the board, with the utopian orientations on one side, and dystopian on the other.
The students will then be asked as a whole to examine each list and observe the themes within each orientation across technologies.
I did want to add to this by saying that this activity would be most appropriately used to completment readings about technologies. Selections from either Susan Douglass' Inventing American Broadcasting or Claude Fischer's America Calling. The goal would be to draw connections between these more historical works with contemporary communication technologies, to draw attention to the reoccuring themes about how we and others think about technology in our lives.