COM587: Internet & Society

Department: Department of Communication
Institution: NC State University
Terms: Fall, 2018, Spring 2017, Fall 2015, Fall 2014

The internet is all around us. Using mobile phones and location-aware technologies, people are browsing information wherever they happen to be. As a result, physical location has become an important factor in how information is categorized and accessed. From online maps to location-based social networks and games, location awareness is becoming central to how we understand the internet today. However, digital information was categorized and accessed differently in the past.

This course explores 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 an emerging form of networked interactions called net locality. Net locality is about happens to individuals and society when virtually everything is located or locatable. This course will run as a seminar and explores the following key topics:

  • A historical overview of the development of the internet:
    • 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 HTML as the web's main original programming language and how the internet's functionality was originally based on communication protocols that aimed at sharing resources.
  • Social uses of the internet:
    • Usenet, BBS and MUDs as the origins of blogs, wikis, and social networking sites.
    • The development of what was called web 2.0. and co-related issues such as regulation, privacy and digital divide. online.
  • Location and Net locality:
    • The affordances of digital networks embedded with mobility and location awareness.
    • Location-based services and location-based social networks.