COM487: Internet and Society

Department: Department of Communication
Institution: NC State University
Terms: Spring 2021, Spring 2020, Spring 2019, Fall 2018, Spring 2010 [section 1] [section 2], Spring 2008 [section 1] [section 2], Spring 2007 [section 1] [section 2], Spring 2006 [section 1] [section 2], Fall 2005

This course explores the social uses of the internet, focusing on its historical development as a digital network. In addition to looking at the history of the internet, from the ARPANET to the mobile web, it also explores emerging ways of interacting with digital information, such as net locality, internet of things and artificial intelligence. From online maps to location-based social networks, location awareness and everyday objects are becoming central to how we connect to the internet today. However, digital information was accessed differently in the past.  This course explores the following key topics:

A historical overview of the development of the internet, from the 1960s to the present, including:

  • Conceptual origins of the internet, such as Vannevar Bush's Memex and hypertext theory;
  • Historical facts that led to the development of the ARPANET and the World Wide Web, such as the transition from mainframes to personal computers;
  • The development of particular interfaces that changed how we access the internet, such as the graphic user interface (GUI), mobile phones, and everyday objects.

Social uses of the internet:

  • MUDs and synchronous communication environments as the origins of social networking sites and chat systems;
  • The development of what was called web 2.0. and users as producers;
  • Social issues related to the pervasiveness of the internet in society, such as net neutrality, privacy, surveillance, big data, and the digital divide.