COM 201: Ethics in Communication

Spring 2016


Contact Information

Dr. Steven Hammer
office: 301 Bronstein Hall
office hours: MW 1:30-2:30


In this course, we will discuss some of the historical and ongoing ethical issues facing our techno-cultural landscape, including privacy, piracy, sharing, copyright, anonymity, leaks, planned obsolesence, and more. The objectives of this course are as follows:

University and Class Policies

Academic Honesty: Please familiarize yourself with the University’s Academic Honesty Policy.

Disability Support: In accordance with state and federal laws, the University will make reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. For those who have or think that you may have a disability requiring an accommodation (learning, physical, psychological) should contact Services for Students with Disabilities, Room G10, Bellarmine, 610-660-1774 (voice) or 610-660-1620 (TTY) as early as possible in the semester for additional information and so that an accommodation, if appropriate, can be made in a timely manner. You will be required to provide current (within 3 years) documentation of the disability.

For a more detailed explanation of the University’s accommodation process, as well as the programs and services offered to students with disabilities, please see the Student Resources Page. If you have any difficulty accessing the information on-line, please contact Services for Students with Disabilities at the telephone numbers above.

If you have any questions or concerns about the syllabus, assignments, or content throughout the semester, please feel free to contact me.

Required Materials

There are no required texts to purchase for this course. The vast majority of course material is free and can be found by following the links in the schedule. Some materials may require a small rental fee, but feel free to organize group film screenings, etc. to lower costs.

Course Requirements

For specific requirements and grading criteria, click here.


> 20% of final grade
> Due daily when material is listed on schedule

You will create, maintain, and share with me a googleDocument in which you summarize and respond to assigned readings and videos. Notes are
due by class time on the day we discuss the material.


> 20% of final grade
> Due 2/15

Your first major project is collaborative (in groups of 2-3), and you will prepare researched arguments on both sides of an issue from the     first unit of the course, and then debate another team in class.

Critical Remix

> 30% of final grade
> First draft due 3/18*
> Final draft due 3/30

Your second major project—a solo project—requires you to compose a critical multimedia remix on a topic of your choice. You will use a variety of media, from both copyrighted and creative commons sources, situate your work under fair use, and post with a creative commons license.

TechnoCritique Screencast

> 30% of final grade
> First draft due 4/27*
> Final draft due during final exam

For your final project you will compose a screencast that examines and critiques the underlying politics of a technology, interface, or program.


Attendance (being in class, on time) and participation (engaging with us while you’re in class) are vital to your success in this course.
You are allowed three absences for the semester without penalty, so use them wisely. After three absences, your final grade will be
lowered as follows:

0-3 Absences = no points deducted
4-6 Absences =    10% deduction of final grade
7-8 Absences =    15% deduction of final grade
9+  Absences = Automatic F for the course


Week 1
1/14 First Day of Class: Introductions + Discussion

1/15 Ethical Frameworks: Introductions
Listen The Dark Web: Is it Evil?

Week 2
1/18 No Class. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

1/20 Ethical Frameworks, cont.
Read Charles Ess: Digital Media Ethics

1/22 Ethical Frameworks, cont.
Read Louis Day: Ethics in Media Communications

Week 3
1/25 No Class.
Finish your maps, place yourself on the map. Bring to class.

1/27 Privacy, Anonymity
Read Michel Foucault: Discipline & Punish
Read “Debate Simmers…”
Watch Do Not Track (all 7 episodes)

1/29 Privacy, Anonymity, cont.
Read Eric Hughes: A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto
Watch Citizenfour

Week 4
2/1     Privacy, Anonymity, cont.
Watch We Steal Secrets

2/3     Privacy, Anonymity, cont.
Watch Terms and Conditions May Apply
Watch How to/Why Leave Facebook (in class)

2/5     Privacy, Anonymity, cont.
Watch We Are Legion

Week 5
2/8 Privacy, Anonymity, cont.
Watch We Live in Public

2/10 Studio

2/12 Studio

Week 6
2/15 Debate 1
2/17 Debate 2
2/19 Debate 3

Week 7
2/22 Information, Distribution, Remix

2/24 Information, Distribution, Remix, cont.
Watch The Internet’s Own Boy

2/26 No Class. Watch RIP: A Remix Manifesto

Week 8
2/29 Information, Distribution, Remix, cont.
Read Lawrence Lessig: Free Culture pp. 1-20 and pp.62-84

3/2  Information, Distribution, Remix, cont.
Read The Pirate Book: El Paquete Semanal & Marakk

3/4     Information, Distribution, Remix, cont.
Read Measuring Fair Use
Introduction to Adobe Premiere Pro

Week 9
3/7-3/11 No Classes. Spring Break.

Week 10
3/14 Information, Distribution, Remix, cont.
More w/ Premiere Pro

3/16 Revise & Resubmit

3/18 Revise & Resubmit

Week 11
3/21 Revise & Resubmit

3/23 No physical class meeting: review and edit remixes for screening.

3/25 No Class. Easter Break.

Week 12
3/28 No Class. Easter Break.

3/30 Remix Screenings

4/1 Remix Screenings

Week 13
4/4 Critical Tech Theory/Practice

4/6 No Class.

4/8 No Class.

Week 14
4/11 Critical Tech Theory/Practice, cont.
*Below readings can be found through the SJU library databases*
Read Hawisher & Selfe: The Rhetoric of Technology and the Electronic Writing Class
Read Selfe & Selfe: The Politics of the Interface: Power and Its Exercise in Electronic Contact Zones

4/13 Critical Tech Theory/Practice, cont.
Read Rosa Menkman: GLitch Studies Manifesto
Read Manon & Temkin: Notes on Glitch

4/15 Critical Tech Theory/Practice, cont.
Read Dirty New Media Art

Week 15
4/18 Critical Tech Theory/Practice, cont.
Screencasting Tools, Techniques, & Genres
Watch Phil Morton: General Motors Part 1; Part 2
Watch Nick Briz: Apple Computers
Watch Dan Anderson: Slow Combers

4/20 Studio

4/22 Studio

Week 16
4/25 Studio

4/27 Revise & Resubmit

4/29 Revise & Resubmit

Week 17
5/2 Revise & Resubmit

Final Exam (see schedule for our meeting time)
Screening of Final Projects