[NetBehaviour] Two early Internet course descriptions:

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Sat Jan 18 06:23:01 CET 2020

Two early Internet course descriptions:


( Early for me; I began teaching in 1994: Internet Access, New
School Computer Instruction Center, 1994-7 Before and After the
Information Superhighway, New School, 1994-5 Cyberspace, Film/Video
Arts, 1994-5. I'm trying to figure out how to rewrite/rethink all
of this for an upcoming online course. One obvious problem: The
sheer amount of material to be covered today is overwhelming! )


(below from 1994)


With public attention drawn to the 'information highway,' camcorders,
multimedia, and a host of other information technologies, it is
apparent that a revolution in communications is underawy. We will
examine this transformation, using postmodernism and contemporary
media theory. In so doing, we will focus on both past and future,
from the history of television and radio to the 'transparent' virtual
reality world of the next millennium.

This course is a must for anyone interested in contemporary modes of
entertainment or communication. Everything from a brief non-technical
overview of the technologies involved, to the actual content of these
modes, will be presented, including the new forms of subjectivity and
personal communications (such as computer bulletin boards) that are
emerging. Issues of space and time in virtual reality will also be

Topics include digital vs. analog communications, the internet, the
'new information order,' gender and communications, postmodern
geography and telecommunications, computer bulletin boards, camcorder
aesthetics (including issues of privacy, sexuality, oral history, and
personal expression), multi-media at home and business, the emergence
of new `languages' of expression, and an overview of recent (1895-
the present) communications history.

Reading Materials:

Because of the fast-changing media landscape, texts will be chosen
several weeks before the course. The following list is tentative:

1. Mark Poster, Mode of Information
2. David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity
3. Thomas Docherty, ed. Postmodernism: A Reader
4. Geoffrey Reeves, Communications and the 'Third World'
5. Avital Ronell, The Telephone Book: Technology, Schizophrenia,
         Electric Speech
6. Alan Sondheim, ed. Future Culture issue, Art Papers, (available
         as texts before 1995 publication)
7. Alan Sondheim, Internet Text in Perforations 7
8. Donna Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women
9. Downloaded texts from the Internet, including Jack Frost on
          cyberpoetics, and (with permission), material from
          Postmodern Culture magazine.
10. Magazines include: Mondo 2000, Wired, Perforations, and
Boardwatch and other computer magazines.


(below from 2001)

Internet Culture and Community (for catalog):

We will take a critical look at the Internet in all its forms and
uses.  From the demographics and history of the Internet, to issues
of online art, sex, culture, and politics, we consider the
revolutionary and innovative aspects of this world-wide
communication network. The course is essential for anyone hoping to
understand our situation at the beginning of the twenty-first


Internet Culture and Community                 Alan Sondheim

This course is designed to give students a broad overview of the
past, present, and future Internet, including its history,
sociology, and anthropology. We will focus on the development of
online communities - their ideologies, software structures, and
demographics. Newsgroups, chats, email lists, MUDs, MOOs, and
text-based, graphic or 3-d meeting spaces will be considered. We
will also look at the construction of the "online subject" or user,
and deal with issues such as "Internet addiction," Net
relationships and sexuality, and Net art/culture in general. We'll
pay attention to the ethos of hacking, the open software source
movement, and the Net from an international standpoint. This course
is useful for understanding the Net in depth; it has practical
application as well for anyone working on on-line sites.

Alan Sondheim email: sondheim at panix.com


CDROM (described in the first session)
Arbyte, Leonardo, and American Book Review issues (on reserve)
Digital Identity (on reserve)
Read Me (on reserve)
Being on Line (on reserve)


Peter Salus, Casting the Net: From ARPANET to INTERNET and
Espen Aarseth, Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature
Brenda Laurel, Computers as Theater
David Porter, editor, Internet Culture
Steven Jones, editor, Cybersociety 2.0: Revisiting Computer-Mediated
   Communication and Community
Kiersten Conner-Sax and Ed Krol, The Whole Internet: The Next
David Bell and Barbara Kennedy, editors, The Cybercultures Reader

1 Introduction - The current state of the Internet. Who is using
    it, what is it, what are the services and applications associated
    with it? What are the current demographics? Introduction to
    cdrom, other course materials. Description of the term project.
    Student backgrounds.

2 Some Net history - check out RFC directory. Direct-connect and
    packet- switching networks. Early Net as text-driven,
    non-commercial. Arpanet and NSF-run Net. Early spamming. Net
    privatization. Steven Levy's Hackers, Peter Salus' work. Please
    see the RFC and HISTORY directories. Early Net ethos, "feel."
    Phenomenology of text-based user interfaces. Fidonet, Computer
    Bulletin Boards. The Internet and issues of censorship, terror-
    ism, and privacy (introduction). The case of anon.penet.fi. AOL's
    release of 2m subscribers. See Hobbes timeline - read from
    timeline in Sean Geer's Pocket Internet.

3 Modalities of the Internet (MULTI directory): presentation of the
    self in everyday virtual life. Phenomenology of analog and
    digital. Modernisms and postmodernisms in relation to electronic
    communication. The wired and the non-wired: disparate communities
    under the aegis of global capitalisms and communalities. Please
    check the IRC and KYOKO directories. Kyoko Date, Ananova, Webbie
    Tookay, etc.

4 The future state of the Internet. Where is it going in the next
    few years? Will it be able to keep pace with the increasing
    number of users? How are demographics changing? Entertainment vs.
    information visions. The other visions of business and community:
    How do applications such as the World Wide Web determine what is
    possible on the Net? How is the user "configured" by these
    applications? The Cathedral and the Bazaar - open source
    communications. Peer-to-peer communications and community. The
    Net and bombing of the World Trade Center.

5 Email lists: Please check the ELIST, CYBRMIND and HISTORY
    directories. Issues of governance, newbies, old-timers,
    moderation, etc. Types of lists, filtering. Various list
    software. Earlier modes: mail, coffee- houses, ham and cb radio,
    experimental television. IRC and Chat (AOL, ICQ, CUSEEME, and so
    forth); please check the IRC directory. Also: history of online
    communities including Fidonet; computer bulletin-boards; spread
    of computer Networks world-wide.

6 Net art and net.art - see the American Book Review issue on
    Codework - content in relation to code. Modernist approaches.
    Please check the ART directory. Issues of online collaboration in
    Net art and community. Stelarc's work, jodi, antiorp,
    eusocial.com, etc. The webartery list, net-art.org, etc.

7 Synchronous and asynchronous applications. What constitutes a
    database? What audio and video modalities are becoming available
    and how do these affect the user? Many-to-many, one-to-one,
    one-to-many, many-to- one applications. What is the future of
    "virtual persona" or "avatars" on the Net? Julia, Stelarc's work.
    Interfaces: Open software movement, Linux, prompt and GUI
    phenomenology. Use Norwegian magazine from 1994.

8 Issues of the body: reading through the text, hysteria, net.sex
    and the "ascii unconscious," postmodernism and the fragmented
    self. Sex, love, and death in cyberspace. Cyberspace relations
    and the nuclear family. Internet marriages and relationships.
    Aguirre, Mandeville, and sexualities on the frontier. Issues of

9 Virtual subjectivity. Projections and introjections. "Reality"
    and the grain of the voice, death and rape in cyberspace.
    Hallucinatory personalities, Net personalities. Various spaces in
    Cyberspace: MOOs, Usenet, email lists. Phenomenology of MOOs.
    ERGODIC literature - Aarseth's definitions (in Aarseth,
    Cybertext). Please check the MOO and KYOKO directories.

10 Privacy, security, community, and confession on the Net. Groups
     and counter-groups. Alt.society.neutopia and the monster-truck
     neutopians.  Alt.angst, Walkers in Darkness, and other support
     newsgroups and email lists. Please check the IRC directory.

11 Hacking, cracking, and the anarcho-libertarian aspects of the
     Net. Spamming. The changing demographics/cultures as a result of
     the World Wide Web. The future of the Web, chat-lines, and so
     forth. Please check PHRACK directory. "Hacker ethos."

12 Community Organization: Forms of outreach. Freenets, Community
     Access Points, conferencing tools and strategies. Kiosks, from
     government to Siggraph. Please check ARTICLES directory. Medical
     models and bottom-up organization.

13 Strategies for research and organizing information and
     personal/formal databanks. Search engines and Boolean searching.
     Web page information structure and philosophy: access for all.
     Net business and Net security. Net censorship again: Issues of
     intellectual property.

14 April 27 Course overview.


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