WRIT 2004: Writing in Digital Cultures

3.0 credits, Summer 2022

The year is 2076, and “the cloud has burst.” What happens when our online selves are unmasked IRL?

This course develops students’ critical writing, analysis, design, and implementation abilities in the digital world. Students will analyze the impact of digital products through current theory and global issues, then design, write, and implement their own digital product. Areas of study include questions such as power, gender, audience, identity, language, accessibility, and knowledge construction. 

This course is formatted as a studio course, not a lecture course. This means that we will be spending significant amounts of our time not only in discussions, but also in active reading, writing, and making together.

Required Texts

  • Abstract: The Art of Design, available through Netflix and YouTube
  • Shipka, Jody. Toward a Composition Made Whole. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011. 
  • Vaughan, Brian K., Marcos Martin, and Muntsa Vicente. The Private Eye. Panel Syndicate, 2015.

Assignments & Assessment

  • Blog Posts (Analyze & Connect): 30%
  • Blog Posts (Make & Reflect): 30%
  • Participation: 20%
  • Final Project: 20%

Example Assignments

Blog Post #2 (Make & Reflect): Digital Identity

The first two chapters of The Private Eye introduce us to the various ways people conceal their identities, including handles, masks, nyms, dreamcoats, and more. Whether online or IRL, we all make hundreds of small choices about how we appear and present ourselves, that matter for how we tell people who we are (and aren’t). 

For this blog post, you’ll create a nym of your own that does the work of representing some aspect of part of yourself that you do want to communicate/be visible when interacting with others in digital spaces, such as our Discord but maybe other platforms and sites of digital culture as well. 

To do this, find a nym or two that inspires you from the text. Then, using whatever methods you devise, create an image of a nym that you would use in a particular digital space. Then, share this image on your blog and write a post explaining your project.


Blog Post #8 (Make & Reflect): New Tech for Digital Cultures

Choose a problem about digital cultures that The Private Eye raises. Then, design/invent a technology that could help navigate that problem. Alternatively, you can invent a technology that makes that problem worse. The audience, goals, materials, technologies, mediums, and purposes for this new piece are yours to decide. They could be more directly for the world of TPE or our world right now. As in our last Make & Reflect assignment, you can use whatever tools and methods you devise.