SPCM 3XX: Intro to Internet Culture

Fall/Spring 20XX • CRN: XXXXXX • 3 Credits

Classroom #XX, Building XX

<Class Dates and Times>

Instructor Information



Office Location & Hours

Ben Pettis


A208, Behavioral Science Building


Or by appointment

General Information

Course Description

As the Internet and other online communication technologies were being developed and adopted, there was significant discussion as to what effect this new “Cyberspace” might have on the ways we communicate and interact with one another. Some people have viewed Internet culture as a veritable utopia that may solve (or at least offer an escape from) the problems of the “real world.” Yet others have feared that Internet culture is a means for the worst aspects of human nature to collect. As with most thing, the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle.

This course explores issues of Internet Culture and considers what place it occupies in our contemporary society. By considering an array of opinions and interpretations on Internet Culture, this class provides a broad overview of how Internet Culture has developed, how it functions, and what relation the “virtual” world has to the “real” world.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will understand significant milestones in the development of online communication technologies and the establishment of Internet culture.
  2. Students will interpret and understand a selection of literature on Internet culture and apply those readings to contemporary understandings of new media and Internet events.
  3. Students will compare communication in online settings with face-to-face communication and critically consider the relationship between physical and online space.
  4. Students will apply the theories and discourses of Internet culture to their own experiences and understandings of online communities.


Assessment for the course comprises two formal written assignments, a midterm exam, weekly reading responses, as well as general participation and engagement. The total grade breakdown is as follows:

Reading Responses – 10%

Media Fast Report – 25%

Midterm – 25%

Final Paper – 35%

Attendance & Participation – 5%

When grading individual writing assignments, particularly weekly writings, I assume that you have read the following descriptions of grading for the course. As a result, I will not rewrite these comments on your papers.

A = Truly superior work. Writing and analysis is insightful, coherent, and original. Your work reflects strong, clear thinking and contains specific examples, smart interpretation and analysis, and exceptionally clear prose.

B and B+ = Good work. Writing is authoritative and appropriate, but not complete in analysis or use of detail. Writing contains minor deficiencies in organization, coherence, or analysis of examples.

B- and C+ = Adequate work but needs a lot of attention. Writing is generally coherent but lacks specificity, argument, and/or textual clarity. Questions are answered partially or unclearly, lacking grounding, nuance, or detail. Contains multiple grammatical and/or spelling errors (including excessive passive voice)

D = Unacceptable work. Essays are incomplete or tangential to crucial issues. Questions are answered breezily, with overgeneralizations and/or inadequate logic and reasoning.


Attendance is mandatory. I will take attendance periodically throughout the semester. You are allowed up to 3 “free” absences throughout the semester. Absences beyond this will negatively impact your final grade.

Course Materials

Required Materials

Kennedy, Barbara M., and David Bell, eds. The Cybercultures Reader. 2nd edition. London; New York: Routledge, 2007.

Readings will be regularly assigned from The Cybercultures Reader (CCR in the course schedule). Please be sure that you use the 2nd edition of the book, ISBN # 9780415410670

Canvas Readings

Any additional readings will be posted to Canvas as PDF downloads.


3-2-1 Reading Responses – 10% of Total Grade

Each week, submit a reading 3-2-1 Reading Response sheet for one of the assigned readings for that week. You are only required to submit a reading response for one assigned reading each week. Template 3-2-1 Reading Response sheets are available on Canvas.

Each reading response should include (3) concepts, arguments, or pieces of information that you think are most important; (2) aspects of the reading that you found confusing, challenging, or didn’t fully understand, and (1) detail you’d like to learn more about, one connection you made to your own experience with Internet culture, or one question you would like to ask the author.

Internet Fast Report – 25% of Total Grade

The Internet and online connectivity have become dominant forces in our day to day lives. The rapid development and proliferation of technology has made near-instantaneous communication across vast distances a commonplace occurrence. Internet communication, and the communities we engage with online, have become so ubiquitous their significant may be overlooked.

For this assignment, you will spend a total of 8 hours without using the Internet in any form whatsoever. This includes via desktop computers, laptops, and smartphones. You’re welcome to engage with other forms of media, but nothing that uses an Internet connection. This 8 hour Internet “Fast” must be scheduled during the day, e.g. not during a time that you will be asleep!

I will provide further details and instructions in class.

After your 8 hour Internet Fast, write a 2-3 page reflection on your experiences being disconnected from the Internet. More specific details about this assignment will be distributed during class. See the handout “How to Write a Paper for SPCM 3XX” for formatting and layout instructions.

Midterm Exam – 25% of Total Grade

On X/XX there will be a written midterm exam in class. The midterm will include content from assigned course readings, lecture content, and class discussions. The midterm is meant to assess your understanding of and engagement with course material, beyond the basic memorization of facts and statistics. The format of the midterm will be short-answer responses and one essay-type question.

Final Paper – 35% of Total Grade

At the end of the semester, students will write a 6-8 page paper that synthesizes some of the theories and discourses of Internet culture. The final paper should consider the history of Internet technology, and briefly consider the potential future developments and implications of Internet culture. More information about the final paper topic will be distributed during the semester.

The final paper is due X/XX at 6:00 as a digital upload to Canvas.

More specific details about this assignment will be distributed during class. See the handout “How to Write a Paper for SPCM 3XX” for formatting and layout instructions.

Course Schedule




Assignments Due

Week 1

Internet History

Canvas: The Past and Future History of the Internet, Leiner et al.

CCR p XX-XX: Cyberspace: First Steps, Michael Benedikt

Week 2

Why Study the Internet?

Canvas: The Global Village, Marshall McLuhan; The Global

Canvas: Cyberspace and the World We Live In, Mark Robins

Week 3

Internet Identities

CCR p XX-XX: Identity Construction and Self-Presentation, Charles Cheung

CCR p XX-XX: Race in/for Cyberspace, Lisa Nakamura

Week 4

Internet Identities

CCR p XX-XX: Cyberpublics and Diaspora Politics, Aihwa Ong

CCR p XX-XX: Promiscuous Fictions Tyler Curtain

Week 5

Internet Communities

CCR p XX-XX: Against Virtual Community: For a Politics of Distance, Kevin Robins

CCR p XX-XX: Virtual Togetherness: An Everyday-Life Perspective Maria Bakardjieva

Week 6

Hostile Communities

Canvas: Alternative Influence: Broadcasting the Reactionary Right, Data & Society

Canvas: The Lulz are Dead, Long Live the Lulz, Whitney Phillips

Media Fast Report – due on Canvas by X/XX at 6:00PM

Week 7

Internet Communities

CCR p XX-XX: Community in the Abstract: A Political and Ethical Dilemma? Michele Willson

CCR p XX-XX: Webs as Pegs David Bell

Week 8

(The History of) New Media

Canvas: Worship at the Altar of Convergence, Henry Jenkins

CCR p XX-XX: From Cyber to Hybrid: Mobile Technologies as Interfaces of Hybrid Spaces Adriana de Souza e Silva

Midterm Exam – X/XX in class.

Week 9


Canvas: Meme Dossier

Canvas: The Cultural Logic of Photo-Based Meme Genres, LImor Shifman

Week 10


CCR p XX-XX: Will the Real Body Please Stand Up? Boundary Stories about Virtual Cultures Alluquere Rosanne Stone

CCR p XX-XX: Revenants: The Digital Uncanny Catherine Waldby

Week 11


CCR p XX-XX: A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century Donna Haraway

CCR p XX-XX: Cyberquake: Haraway’s Manifesto Zoe Sofoulis

Week 12


CCR p XX-XX: On the Matrix: Cyberfeminist Simulations Sadie Plant 

CCR p XX-XX: New Sciences: Cyborg Feminism and the Methodology of the Oppressed Chela Sandoval

Week 13


Canvas: The House that Fox Built, Whitney Phillips

CCR p XX-XX: Digital Networks and the State: Some Governance Questions Saskia Sassen

Week 14

Fake news, disinformation

Canvas: Fake News Dossier

Canvas: Weaponizing the Digital Influence Machine, Data & Society

Week 15

Governing the Internet

CCR p XX-XX: Digital Networks and the State: Some Governance Questions Saskia Sassen

CCR p XX-XX: The Internet in the Aftermath of the World Trade Center Attack Briavel Holcomb, Philip Bakelaar & Mark Zizzamia

Week 16

Future of the Internet

Canvas: Internet Future Dossier

CCR p XX-XX: From DV Realism to a Universal Recording Machine, Lev Manovich

Finals Week

<No scheduled final exam session – enjoy your break!>

Final Paper – due on Canvas by X/XX at 6:00PM

Course Policies

  1. Assigned readings are to be completed before class.
  2. Lecture slides will be not posted to Canvas.
  3. If you miss a class, you are responsible for asking another student for material you may have missed.
  4. Except for unplanned emergencies, late work is not accepted. If you anticipate being absent for a class, you must arrange to submit any assignments beforehand.
  5. No audio or video recording, or photography devices of any kind are permitted.
  6. Electronic devices, including laptops, cell phones, and tablets, are not permitted.
  7. Except where noted, all assignments will be submitted via Canvas. Emailed and hard copy work is not accepted.
  8. I use Canvas and/or CSU email for all course-related communication. Students are expected to have reliable access to Canvas and CSU email, and should check both of these on a daily basis.
  9. I check email multiple times per day, but almost never on weekends. I will respond to any student email within 48 hours, and will make every effort to respond within 24 hours when possible.
  10. I reserve the right to update or modify this syllabus throughout the semester. Any changes to assignments and/or due dates will be communicated in a timely manner.

University Policies and Resources

Academic Dishonesty

All students are expected to act with civility, personal integrity, respect other students’ dignity, rights and property; and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their own efforts. An environment of academic integrity is requisite to respect for self and others and a civil community.

Academic integrity includes a commitment to not engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty include cheating or copying, plagiarizing, submitting another persons’ work as one’s own, using Internet sources without citation, taking or having another student take your exam, tampering with the work of another student, facilitating other students’ acts of academic dishonesty, etc.

You should never use someone else’s writing without providing quotations and citations, and you should not simply rearrange the words of others. For additional information about how to avoid plagiarism, see: http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/guide.cfm?guideid=17

Plagiarism and cheating will be addressed according to the Student Conduct Code, which can be found at http://www.conflictresolution.colostate.edu/conduct-code#conduct. Any plagiarizing on your assignments or submitting others’ work as your own will result in disciplinary action. For more details on this, refer to the CSU website on academic integrity: http://learning.colostate.edu/integrity/index.cfm.

Accommodations for Students

If you are a student who will need accommodations in this class due to a disability or chronic health condition, please provide me the SDC accommodation letter. If you do not already have these accommodation letters please contact the SDC as soon as possible to initiate the process of setting up accommodations. The SDC is located on the room 121 of the TILT building. You can reach them by phone at 970-491-6385 or visit www.disabilitycenter.colostate.edu

Non-Discrimination Statement

Colorado State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, age, creed, color, religion, national origin or ancestry, sex, gender, disability, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or pregnancy. Equal access and opportunity in treatment, employment, admissions, programs and activities shall be extended to all persons. The University shall promote equal opportunity and treatment in employment through a positive and continuing affirmative action program for ethnic minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and veterans. The Office of Equal Opportunity is located in 101 Student Services Building.

The Title IX Coordinator is the Executive Director of the Office of Support and Safety Assessment, 123 Student Services Building, Fort Collins, CO 80523 -2026, (970) 491-7407.

The Section 504 and ADA Coordinator is the Associate Vice President for Human Capital, Office of Equal Opportunity, 101 Student Services Building, Fort Collins, CO 80523-0160, (970) 491-5836.

Title IX Statement

CSU’s Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Stalking, and Retaliation policy designates faculty and employees of the University as “Responsible Employees.” This designation is consistent with federal law and guidance, and requires faculty to report information regarding students who may have experienced any form of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, relationship violence, stalking or retaliation. This includes information shared with faculty in person, electronic communications or in class assignments.  As “Responsible Employees,” faculty may refer students to campus resources (see below), together with informing the Office of Support and Safety Assessment to help ensure student safety and welfare. Information regarding sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, relationship violence, stalking and retaliation is treated with the greatest degree of confidentiality possible while also ensuring student and campus safety.

Any student who may be the victim of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, relationship violence, stalking or retaliation is encouraged to report to CSU through one or more of the following resources: