Network Culture Fall 2010

My latest syllabus for the Network Culture course as I am teaching it this term at Columbia.

Columbia University
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
A4515: Network Culture. The History of the Contemporary

Fall 2010 Professor Kazys Varnelis
Lectures/Seminars Wednesday 11-1,
408 Avery

Description

The purpose of this seminar is to come to an advanced historical understanding of the changed conditions that characterize our networked age. We will explore how the network is not merely a technology with social ramifications but rather serves as a cultural dominant connecting changes in society, economy, aesthetics, urbanism, and ideology. As a history of the contemporary, the seminar is organized around a series of topics tracing a genealogy of present-day culture.

Topics to be addressed include network theory, changing concepts of time and space, the rise of networked publics, contemporary poetics, new forms of subjectivity, and methods of control. Throughout, we will make connections between architecture and this insurgent condition.

Requirements

Participation: 20%

Each class will consist of a presentation by the instructor on selected themes, followed by an in-depth discussion in seminar. Students are expected to prepare all readings in order to facilitate a discussion in which all students participate. Active participation by all students in each session is required.

Tumblr: 20%

Each student is expected to maintain a tumblelog on tumblr.com and to post at least twice a week. Beyond mere reblogging of information pertinent to the course, the tumblelog will form a record and commentary upon their research during the semester.

Curatorial Project: 60%

The term project will be a curatorial project, exploring a cultural topic related to the subject matter with a written and visual component.

Both design and scholarship are integral to the term project. A carefully curated and designed work will be accompanied a 2,500 word essay on the curated material.

Plagiarism of any sort will result in immediate failure

Reading

Readings will be available on-line

01

09.08

Introduction

02

09.15

An Overview of Network Culture

Manuel Castells, "Informationalism, Networks, and the Network Society: A Theoretical Blueprint. In Castells, ed. The Network Society: A Cross-cultural Perspective (Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2004), 3-45.

Gilles Deleuze, "Postscript on Control Societies," Negotiations, 1972-1990 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), 73-77.

Kazys Varnelis, "Conclusion: The Meaning of Network Culture," Networked Publics, 1-13 and 145-163.

03

09.22

Postmodernism and Periodization

David Harvey, "Fordism" and "From Fordism to Flexible Accumulation," in The Condition of Postmodernity, (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1989), 125-172.

Fredric Jameson, "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism," New Left Review 146 (July/August 1984): 53-92.

Optional:

Hal Foster, "Postmodernism: A Preface," in Hal Foster, ed., The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture (Townsend, Washington: Bay Press, 1983), ix-xvi.

04

09.29

Network Theory

Albert-László Barabási, "Six Degrees of Separation," "Small Worlds," and "Hubs and Connectors," Linked: The New Science of Networks (Cambridge, MA: Perseus, 2002), 25-63.

Nicholas Carr, "From the Many to the Few" The Big Switch: Rewiring the World from Edison to Google (New York: W. W. Norton, 2008), 127-149.

Optional:

Mark S. Granovetter, "The Strength of Weak Ties," American Journal of Sociology 78 (May 1973), 1360-1380.

Duncan J. Watts, "The Connected Age," Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age, (New York: W.W. Norton, 2003), 19-42.

05

10.06

Time

Jean Baudrillard, "The End of the Millennium or the Countdown," Economy & Society 26 (1997): 447-55.

Jean François Lyotard, "Answering the Question: What is Postmodernism?" Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1984), xxiii-xxv.

Jeffrey Nealon, "Once More, With Intensity, Foucault's History of Power Revisited," Foucault Beyond Foucault, 24-53.

Bruce Sterling, "Atemporality for the Creative Artist," http://www.transmediale.de/en/keynote-bruce-sterling-us-atemporality

transcribed: http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2010/02/atemporality-for-the-crea...

 

06

10.13

Special Class

Special Surprise Guest

 

07

10.20

Space

Michel Foucault, "Docile Bodies," Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. (New York: Vintage Books, 1995), 135-156.

Georg Simmel, "The Metropolis and Mental Life," Georg Simmel, On Individuality and Social Forms: Selected Writings, ed. Donald N. Levine (Chicago, 1971), 325-339.

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, "Capitalist Sovereignty, Or Administering the Global Society of Control," Empire (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000), 325-350.

Marc Augé, "Prologue" and "From Places to Non-Places," in Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity, (London; New York: Verso, 1995), 1-6. 75-115.

Hans Ibelings, "Supermodernism," Supermodernism (Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 1998), 55-102.

Optional:

Kazys Varnelis, interview with Hans Ibelings, to be posted online.

Kazys Varnelis and Marc Tuters, "Beyond Locative Media: Giving Shape to the Internet of Things," Leonardo 39, No. 4 (2006): 357-363.

Jordan Crandall, "Operational Media," Ctheory, http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=441.

Martin Dodge and Rob Kitchen, "Code and the Transduction of Life," Journal of the Association of American Geographers 95, no. 1 (2005): 162-80.

 

08

10.27

Publics

Yochai Benkler, "Chapter 1. Introduction: A Moment of Opportunity and Challenge" and "Chapter 4. The Economics of Social Production," The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), 1-28 and 91-127.

Chris Anderson, "The Long Tail," Wired, October 2004, http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html

Clay Shirky, "Power Laws, Weblogs and Inequality," Clay Shirky's Writings About the Internet. http://www.shirky.com/writings/powerlaw_weblog.html

Bill Wausik, "My Crowd. Or Phase 5: A Report from the Inventor of the Flash Mob," Harper's Magazine (March 2006), 56-66.

Bill Bishop, The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing Us Apart (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008), 1-77.

Optional

Selections from Michael J. Weiss, The Clustered World: How We Live, What We Buy, and What it All Means About Who We Are (New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 1999).

Malcolm Gladwell, "The Coolhunt," New Yorker (March 17, 1997), 78-88, http://www.gladwell.com/1997/1997_03_17_a_cool.htm

Grant McCracken, "Who Killed the Coolhunter?" http://www.cultureby.com/trilogy/2006/06/who_killed_the_.html

Duncan J. Watts and Peter Sheridan Dodd, "Influentials, Networks, and Public Formation," Journal of Consumer Research (December 2007), 441-458.

 

09

11.03

Poetics

Geert Lovink, "Blogging: The Nihilist Impulse," Eurozine (2007), http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2007-01-02-lovink-en.html

Nicolas Bourriaud, Postproduction (New York: Lukas & Sternberg, 2002), 7-48.

Alan Liu, The Laws of Cool: Knowledge Work and the Culture of Information, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), excerpts.

Jordan Crandall, "Showing," http://jordancrandall.com/showing/index.html

 

10

11.10

Subjectivity

Kenneth J. Gergen,"Social Saturation and the Populated Self," The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life (New York: Basic Books, 2000), 48-80.

Brian Holmes, "The Flexible Personality. For a New Cultural Critique," Transversal, http://transform.eipcp.net/transversal/1106/holmes/en

Warren Neidich, "Resistance is Futile," Artbrain. Journal of Neuroasthetic Theory 4, http://www.artbrain.org/neuroaesthetics/neidich.html.

Nicholas Carr, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?," Atlantic Monthly, July/August 2008, 56-63.

 

11

11.17

Control

Joseph A .Tainter, "Introduction to Collapse," The Collapse of Complex Societies, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 1-21.

Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron, "The Californian Ideology," http://www.hrc.wmin.ac.uk/theory-californianideology-main.html.

Saskia Sassen, "Electronic space and power," Journal of Urban Technology 4 (1997): 1-17.

Alexander R. Galloway, "Physical Media,"Protocol: How Control Exists after Decentralization, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004), 29-53.

 

12

13

11.24

12.01

Research Week

Conclusion

 

Some Books to Consult on Design and Presentation:

Allen Hurlburt, The Grid: A Modular System for the Design and Production of Newspapers, Magazines, and Books (New York: Van Norstand Reinhold, 1978).

Enric Jardí, Twenty-Tips on Typography (Barcelona: ACTAR, 2007).

Josef Muller-Brockmann, Grid Systems in Graphic Design (Zurich: Niggli, 2001).

Timothy Samar, Making and Breaking the Grid. A Graphic Design Layout Workshop
(Beverly, MA: Rockport, 2002).

 

 

 

Comments

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[...] reading Kazys Varnelis’ syllabus for the fall semester at Columbia, I was compelled to go back and read Bruce Sterling’s lecture given at Transmediale 10 in [...]

What about politics?

Where is the proactive political dimension? Maybe it should be useful to add this reference: Yannick Rumpala, "Knowledge and praxis of networks as a political project", 21st Century Society, Volume 4, Issue 3, November 2009.

If anywhere, it is in the

If anywhere, it is in the "Control" class. Yes, that's a good criticism. My concern—as a historian, even as a Marxist historian—is to not replicate the new tradition of deploying an ineffectual political apparatus within a course or a text just to satisfy a feeling of being political.

The writings of Hardt and Negri, for example, suffer from this. Empire is not a bad analysis, but the concept of the multitude is deeply flawed (as is the suggestion in Empire of labor mobility as the proper political action).

It's a problem, I think about every day, mind you: no question that it's crucial to build a new political project. Surely capitalism, most of all the "fast capitalism" that so many pseudo-post-Marxist academic charlatans subscribe to, is evil, and in some stage of collapse. If pushed, it might yet topple. But right now, the alternatives all seem damaged to me and that push seems as likely to happen from the Right as from the Left.

So do I say I am a nihilist? No, because that would be untrue. Or is it a matter of being untimely? That's my sense of it. But that means that I am actively looking and I will be delighted to check out the reference you sent, with which I am not familiar. 

 

 

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