Cyberspace in its Plurality: Cybercultures Workshop at TISS, Mumbai
Workshop @ Centre for Media and Cultural Studies, TISS, Mumbai
The four day workshop at the Centre for Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, sees CIS engaging with one of the most exciting spaces in the Indian academia; we design and administer an introduction course on cyberspace and its plurality to students of media and cultural studies. The workshop is a part of the Centre for Internet and Society's larger concern on providing a multidisciplinary, multi-media approach towards the internet and contextualising it in India.
Structured on a seminar model, the workshop hopes to bring together the questions in academic debate as well as in the realm of cultural production, for students to understand the internet technologies and cyberspaces as not only important cultural outputs but also crucial forms that shape the world we live in.
Objectives: The four day cybercultures workshop hopes to achieve the following objectives:
- To introduce the students to the multiplicity and complexity of ‘cyberspace’.
- To introduce ‘cyberspace’ as an epistemological category to emphasise the centrality of cyberspaces in understanding the mechanics of urban survival in the contemporary.
- To orient the students towards understanding the textuality of cyberspace; rescuing it from the confines of digital networks and locating it in the transactions of globalization and urbanization in Asia.
- To introduce the key debates in cybercultures theory: body, gender, sexuality, authorship, ownership, access and information democratization.
Design: The cybercultures workshop is designed to be conducted over four days with two sessions (of three hours each) per day. Each day is thematically divided to look at a particular idea of cyberspace; the sessions are further sub-divided to introduce a particular perspective on the day’s theme. Each session has its set of individual pre-readings which will serve more as indicators of the stake of the debate rather than as texts around which the class will be centred. The readings shall remain as introductory material, and the class room discussions, while referring to them, will not concentrate on explaining the material.
Day 1: Cyberspace – Form, Textuality and Frameworks
Session 1: Exploring Cyberspace:
Definitions, explanations, locations
Cyberspace and Digital Technologies
Form, text, textuality
Pre-reading: Shah, Nishant, 2005. “Playblog: Pornography, Performance, and Cyberspace” available here
Session 2: The Digital DNA – Database, Networks, Archives
The Database Imperative: Sorting, information, databases
The Networking Impulse: Social Networking Systems and the condition of networking
The Archiving Aspirations: Intention, aspiration and archiving the present
Pre-reading: Manovich, Lev, 2001. “The Database as a Symbolic Form” available here
Day 2: Information technology and human engineering
Session 3 : Gender, Technology and Cyberspace
Gendering of Technology; Gendered Technologies
The body and its boundaries
Physical bodies; Digital selves; cyborgs
Pre-reading: Light, Jennifer, 1999. “When Computers Were Women” available here
Dibbell, Julian, 1991. “A Rape in Cyberspace: How an Evil Clown, a Haitian Trickster, Two Wizards, and a Cast of Dozens Turned a Database into a Society” available here
Session 4: Techno-social Worlds
Orkut Deaths : The distributed self
Role playing and identity : The real and the authentic
DPS MMS: The trajectories of selves
Day 3- 4 : Cyberspace and the Infobahn
Session 5: Movie Screening: Good Copy, Bad Copy (followed by discussion)
Session 6: Who owns Cyberspace?
Ownership and Possession
Licensing and access
Open source and the gift economy
Pre-reading: UNCTAD essay on copyright and related questions, available here
Session 7: 18 Reasons Why Piracy is Good for You
The need for piracy
Piracy, theft, and property
Session 8: The Cultural Value of Intellectual Property
The Digital Millenium Rights
The Copy Right and the Copy Left
Open Access and the Creative Commons