Teaching surveillance with 1984 and Little Brother
I was in the university bookshop today and was thrilled to see several of the books are already in for one of my courses this autumn, DIKULT106: Culture and Norms in the Information Society. The course consists of three three week units: surveillance, community and identity online, and digital media ethics. Here’s the syllabus. I’m teaching the first unit, and I’m quite excited: I’ve assigned Orwell’s 1984 (after Alex Halavais mentioned on Facebook that most of his students hadn’t read it) and Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother. As you can see, the bookshop has ordered them in both English and Norwegian as it’s an international group of students.
One book the bookshop won’t have is Ubiquitous Surveillance, edited by David Parry and one of the “living books” the Open Humanities Press has published online. It consists of an introduction and a curated collection of online materials, and may actually change while I’m teaching it.
I would like to have students request their data from some entity (Facebook, their mobile phone provider etc) and writing about that for the 2000 word essay they have to write for this unit, but I think it would take too long. The 30 day legal deadline means students wouldn’t actually get their data until after they’re supposed to have written their first drafts. Norwegian mobilen.no will generate an email requesting your data from your mobile phone provider, so that’s very easy. I think I’ll encourage them to do this in any case.