Blog Post

Democracy 2.0 (This Is Your Brain on the Internet, Con't)

If I have been blogging less frequently on the Cat in the Stack HASTAC site, it is because "This Is Your Brain on the Internet" has a blogging requirement and the comments there are so interesting and the conversations so rich that I've been spending much of my blogging time reading and posting to the class. (I have also found the HASTAC Scholars Forums to be irresistible so you will find me posting there with frequency too.)


In any case, I had my undergrads vote on whether they wanted their blogs private for the class or public to the world and they asked for private and, for some, even that has been hard. At least one very smart student in the class really doesn't like public internet documentation of his ideas at all. And I empathize with that, even though, as a lifelong writer, I've long ago given up on that issue. In any case, I've been blogging every few weeks, giving readers on the HASTAC network a taste of how this amazing class is going.


Here's this week's tidbit. The rest of the course is determined by students working collaboratively. They set us assignments and create experiences for us in class.This is the first collaborative assignment and it follows fast on the heels of an inspiring virtual visit from Howard Rheingold and in anticipation of today's visit by Tony O'Driscoll who will be talking about collaboration and managing teams in virtual environments.The assignment below also follows on the heels of really remarkable, deep conversations inspired by both Rheingold and Shirky, including a question that Will and Steffi asked: Does Web 2.0 imply a different model of human nature? I'm very interested in that question because I believe any paradigm-shifting technology changes the model of human nature. Is "here comes everybody" participatory culture based on a more altruistic model of human nature? If so, what does that mean for society over the next decade, in the wake of the collapse of the world-markets which were based on bubbles and get-away-with-what-you-can models of human interaction. Deep. Complex.


The topic of the collaborative project by Esi, Ashleigh, and Matt is Democracy Through Web 2.0. They have posted our assignment prior to their collaborative presentation and I have to say it is just about perfect. A required reading (to give us intellectual heft and substance), a new tool to master before we get into the class, a practical assignment using that tool, and the requirement that we come to class with laptops. Building on this foundation, it will be great to see what happens on Wednesday. I'll report back!


The first topic for the group presentations is Democracy through Web2.0. We aim to discuss how the expanded, interactive internet functionsas news, as information, and as organization in its own democratic way.

For our class on Wednesday, we ask that you please complete thefollowing four bullets. We promise that these are fun and interactiveand won?t be a chore.

  • Read: McPherson, Tara. ?A Rule Set for the Future.? Digital Youth, Innovation, and the Unexpected. Edited by Tara McPherson. 1-26. Download from MIT Press,
  • Go to If you?ve never used digg before, take a little bit of time becoming familiar with how the site works and what its purpose is or isn?t. Then, vote for or against one article.
  • Imagine that your child has diarrhea. Using the internet, come to class with a recommendation as to what you should be feeding him.
  • Bring your computer, as it will be needed during our presentation.

We look forward to leading class on Wednesday!



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