There are a lot of extra resources in the sections for each week. These are not required, so if you don’t want to go there, you really don’t have to. They are there for you to follow through on anything that you want to know more about. They might also be useful as springboards for your research projects.
There is actually a fair bit of material you are expected to engage with on this course (it is Level 3 after all). However, there is a lot of material (readings, links, videos, etc) you don’t have to engage with. I put this here if you are interested, or if you want to extend your knowledge or skills. None of the below for example is required reading. However, I think a lot of it is useful and/or interesting if you want to browse through.
Facebook Group (Advance Media Issues—ARTS3091)
There is a group on Facebook. It’s for you on the course (but not for everyone else). We can post relevant links there for the course. We can discuss things. You know how it works I’m sure! Of course, posts should be relevant to the course (which is actually a pretty wide field of relevance) and suitable for general engagement (that is, nothing obscene or offensive). As you are no doubt always aware, engagement with others should be civil (and those who don’t comply will be banned).
For any admin questions (such as about assessment etc) please contact Andrew at his unsw email. Don’t contact him via Facebook Messenger or via posts for such things. He won’t answer messages on Facebook (as this gets too confused with the rest of his complex life).
Below are some more general resources. I’ve mostly posted some approaches to study, work and even life, often with regard to media, that might be helpful. Again, this is all optional.
There’s “how to write” basics and then there’s how to really write (and how to build a writing practice as part of your life). You’ll know what level suits you, or at what level you’re already writing. However, it’s always good to work on your writing. This is true whether or not English is your first language.
If you don’t know, the web is now full of writing advice. Some advice is better than other advice. Yet actually most is useful, even that advice you come to reject (although you don’t need to buy into some “become a best selling author in three weeks” type of course!). There are lots of books on writing. Here are some that I’ve found most useful (or that others have recommended). Students in the past have found one or other of these very useful.
Williams, Joseph M. (2013) Style: Writing with Clarity and Grace Pearson (the classic on non-fiction writing (link to Amazon)
Strunk, William Jr and White, E. B. (1999) The Elements of Style Pearson (another classic—great on basics of grammar and expression) (link to Amazon)
Turner-Vesselago, Barbara (2017) Writing Without a Parachute: The Art of Freefall Jessica Kingsley Publishers (more on freeing up your writing and on enjoying it!) (link to Amazon)
King, Stephen (yes that Stephen King) (2010) On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft Hodder and Stoughton (more on fiction writing but great on writing in general and the writing process) (link to Amazon)
Sometimes your tutor might be a professional writer and might be able to point you in some valuable directions when it comes to writing.
UNSW has this page on writing for students to help you.
On Reading (Why Read? Why Read Complex or Deeper or even just Longer Writing?)
Reynolds, Susan (2016) ‘What you read matters more than you might think: Why Deep Reading Makes You a Better Writer’, Psychology Today, June 7, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prime-your-gray-cells/201606/what-you-read-matters-more-you-might-think
Curtin, Melanie (2017) ‘Want to Strengthen Your Brain? Neuroscience Says to Start Reading This Immediately (It’s Not What You Think): What you read matters to your little gray cells. Give them a boost’, Inc., January 31, http://www.inc.com/melanie-curtin/want-to-improve-brain-functioning-neuroscience-says-to-start-reading-this-immedi.html?cid=cp01002quartz [on the importance of reading fiction, with some good novel suggestions at the end. I am currently reading a lot of science fiction, including some Octavia Butler novels, and I’ll probably read Nick Haraway’s Gnomon during the course and perhaps also George Saunders Lincoln in the Bardo]
On Attention and “Internet Addiction”
Let’s face it, almost all of us at times have difficulties with attention. We get distracted for hours online without realising it, and miss out on doing what we want/need to do. I see a lot of people in classes who can’t seem to leave their phone or laptop for more than a few minutes (or sometimes not at all). I’ve seen a few who can’t stop playing a game on their laptop or phone. And some people seem to find it difficult to be bored for more than a few seconds. A student from a couple of years ago, who grew up almost without the internet, pointed out how important it was to be able to be bored. This is a huge issue not only for study, but for work and life.
I have issues with over-use of social media myself. One thing I’m trying to do—because I love reading books—is have a book (or iPad with a pdf reader and Kindle app) with me at all times that I can pick up whenever I feel pushed to social media without actually, really wanting to go there. I’m also just trying to be aware of when I want/need to be online and how, and when not. Sometimes I use apps to block sites or reward me for keeping my phone on the table with, for example, growing forests. There are links for apps below, but SelfControl is a good one. Forest is the rather ingenuous and lovely one.
Many of the founders of Silicon Valley industries have had some doubts about the effects of social media and computer media in general. It’s worth reading some of these if you have time.
Lewis, Paul (2017) ‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia’, The Guardian, October 6, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/05/smartphone-addiction-silicon-valley-dystopia
Vega, Nicolas (2017) ‘Former Facebook exec: Social media is ‘ripping apart’ society‘, December 11, New York Post, https://nypost.com/2017/12/11/former-facebook-exec-social-media-is-ripping-apart-society/
Bianca Bosker (2016) ‘The Binge Breaker: Tristan Harris believes Silicon Valley is addicting us to our phones. He’s determined to make it stop.’, The Atlantic, http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/11/the-binge-breaker/501122/ [Tristan Harris is a ‘former product philosopher at Google]
Jason Read (2014) “Distracted by Attention’, The New Inquiry, December 8, http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/distracted-by-attention/ [a more philosophical/political/ecological take on attention]
Susanna Paasonen (2016) ‘Fickel Focus: Distraction, Affect, and the Production of Value in Social Media’, First Monday, 21(10), October 3, http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/6949/5629 [Paasonen is a great thinker and First Monday is a great journal for your research]
Sandra Upson (2017) ‘Distraction is Actually Ruining this Country: Between fake news, real news, and everything in between, we’re losing sight of what truly matters’, Backchannel, January 28, https://backchannel.com/distraction-is-actually-ruining-this-country-dd6244fbf817
Joelle Renstrom (2016) ‘And their eyes glazed over: My college students are never entirely present in class, addicted to texts and tech. Is there any hope left for learning?’ Aeon, September 12, https://aeon.co/essays/can-students-who-are-constantly-on-their-devices-actually-learn (note also this conversation about this article—https://aeon.co/conversations/has-technology-made-you-more-or-less-focused-in-your-interests-and-pursuits)
Craig Mod (2017) ‘How I Got My Attention Back: Technology is commanding our attention in infinite, insurmountable loops. A country trip off-grid helped me escape’, Backchannel, January 14, https://backchannel.com/how-i-got-my-attention-back-c7fc9297d347
To be honest, I’ve thought about a general ban on laptops and phones in class many times. However, I think it’s better that tutors manage things themselves so it will be up to each tutor to decide what to do about this. You should be aware though that your tutor may well ask everyone to put laptops and phones away, for entire classes, or part thereof. Even better, think this through for yourself and see how much you are/can be in control of what you want/need to do and when you want to do it. Good luck!
Last point I’ll make here: this is all of course right at the heart of thinking and working with media and communications. Getting people distracted/attending is the basis of what we do, whether it’s keeping people coming back to your YouTube channel, or communication in the classroom or workplace or just chatting with friends. So it’s fascinating from this point of view. There are lots of weeks in this course that will touch on, or feed into your understanding of these issues. Indeed, in this course a lot of work goes into the complex ways which nudge you to think, feel and do some things and not others. Critical awareness in this context isn’t just “criticising” things you find elsewhere. It’s being able to adapt with awareness to what’s going on in your own life and pushing/nudging this further in directions that suits you.
Forest (lovely app really) https://www.forestapp.cc/en/
Put Your Phone Down https://appsto.re/au/uGcFgb.i (a bit more up front)
SelfControl (Mac): free and famous https://selfcontrolapp.com/
On Organising Your Work (Goal Setting, Succeeding .. or Not .. etc)
Khe Hy (2017) ‘Don’t Set Goals for Yourself: Instead Create Systems that Make it Easy for You to Succeed’, Quartz, January 23, https://qz.com/892247/dont-set-goals-for-yourself-instead-create-systems-that-make-it-easy-for-you-to-succeed/ [about organising your habits]
Brooks, Levi (n.d.) ‘Brainstorm Questions, Not Solutions: Your “proposed solution” is probably wrong’, 99U, http://99u.com/articles/52335/brainstorm-questions-not-solutions [we are often trained into providing/wanting the answer straight away .. maybe that’s not always the right approach]
Day, Jesse (2017) ‘Why You Should Write Things Down: Experience and Information’, Inspired to Write, January 26, https://medium.com/inspired-to-write/why-you-should-write-things-down-experience-and-information-b831e24f07c0
Lots of people use the like of Evernote to organise their notes (with tags etc). Others have various methods of notetaking (mindmapping is one we’ll look at during the course). A popular one seems to be the “bullet journal“.
On Critical Awareness/Fake News
Calling Bullshit In the Age of Big Data— a course convened by Carl T. Bergstrom and Jevin West coming online over time.
Standford Alumni (2017) ‘You’re the Fact-Checker Now—how to become a better reader in an age of unreliable news feeds’, Stanford Alumni, January 25, https://medium.com/stanford-alumni/youre-the-fact-checker-now-60103eaeaf3a
Davis, Wynne (2017) ‘Fake Or Real? How To Self-Check The News And Get The Facts’, npr.org, December 15, http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/12/05/503581220/fake-or-real-how-to-self-check-the-news-and-get-the-facts
Kevin Rawlinson (2017) ‘Fake news is ‘killing people’s minds’, says Apple boss Tim Cook’, The Guardian, February 11, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/feb/11/fake-news-is-killing-peoples-minds-says-apple-boss-tim-cook
Privacy, Security and Data
Embuscado, Rain (2017) ‘New ‘Data Selfie’ Extension Lets You Monitor What Facebook Is Tracking’, New Museum, January 23, http://www.newinc.org/news-posts/data-x-launches-data-selfie
Abby Ohliheiser (2017) ‘Erase yourself from the internet? It’s nearly impossible but you can try’, The Sydney Morning Herald, February 11, http://www.smh.com.au/technology/web-culture/erase-yourself-from-the-internet-its-nearly-impossible-but-you-can-try-20170210-guam0s
Animations, Videos and Sites to Introduction You to Philosophy, Critical Thinking and Theory (or further your knowledge)
One of the key things informing the early parts of this course is the very close relation between theory and practice in media. Another is the rich exchange between media theories/practices and more general cultural theories and philosophies. This whole area is one of the main aspects of media theory now. I’ve found that many students have found this the most interesting aspect of the course in the past (including many who I know have done well in media industries).
Some video introductions http://www.openculture.com/2016/07/wireless-philosophy-critical-thinking.html
History of Philosophy
Actually there’s been some huge changes during the past 10 years or so, with philosophy questioning its lack of inclusion of women and non-European philosophy. Some sites and a video below for some other thinkers.
Project Vox .. some early modern women philosophers
Ada Lovelace (a major figure in the history of computing)
Hito Steyerl (a leading theorist, artist and thinker when it comes to media)—’Being Invisible Can Be Deadly’