Networks and Society

Fall, 2003

Communication 4710/5710-001 (UC Denver)

Monday/Wednesday 11:30- 12:45 pm – Plaza #130


Instructor: Willard Uncapher, Ph.D.

Office: Plaza 102-G (In Comm. Corridor);

Office Hrs: M/W 10:15-11:30; and by appt.

Voice Mail 303-556-8808; also Comm. Dept.

Mailbox: Comm. Dept Office (102-A)

Email: ; E-mail will receive a reply within 48 hours (often within 24 hours).

Web: <>

[Jump directly to sched./readings below]


Department Mission Statement

The mission of the Communication Department is to create a learning environment in which students develop the skills, knowledge, and abilities necessary to use communication to create a more civil and humane world. By civil and humane the Department means a way of communicating that is rooted in an acceptance and appreciation of others and that involves communicating in ways that express respect for and acknowledgement of others regardless of their station in life, wealth or lack of it, politics, religion, ethnicity, race, or any other quality.


Rethinking the Departmental Mission Statement

To emphasize the distinctive mission of our department, let me in turn ask you: what do we mean by ‘civility?’  How universal are the values of civility?  How does civility enter into your understanding and practice of what you are learning in this department, in communication studies, and in your life?  How do we ‘communicate’ civility?  What is the history of civility?  How might civility promote diversity and creativity?  What is the relationship of civility and humanity? How can we ‘teach’ civility and humanity?


Course Description

What is a network? Why have we been hearing so much about networks lately?  How can networks apply to research and practices in communication, cultural, and social studies?  While the following course will certainly draw upon some traditional elements of ‘social networks’ analysis in communication studies, it is now clear with events like the “9-11 Terrorist Attack” that much new thinking is now going into networked organization and communication.  Some of it is interesting, some of it silly, some of it quite stale.  We are going to begin to see why there is a revolution in ‘network studies’ going on, and how knowing about the terms, trends, practices, theories, and history of network studies can provide the undergraduate with tools to evaluate and participate in trends as diverse as globalization, media institutions integration, and community development. Emphasis on the link to communication and media studies.


Course Prerequisites/Objectives

This course is designed for an upper division, undergraduate level at UC Denver, although it can be adapted to graduate students when necessary.  A student will need to meet general requirements for ‘upper division’ courses.  While we will expose the student to some of the software for looking at networks, this is not our focus, and so non-technical and non-mathematical students should feel at home.  This will be a more topics oriented course to allow us to rethink just where such applications might fit. There will be writing and potential for research.  At the end of course, the student will be able to knowingly approach the history, frameworks, topics, and trends of this emerging field.


Required Texts and Access

Wellman, Barry. 1999. Networks in the Global Village.  Boulder: Westview Press.

Reading Package available on-line, potentially distributed in class.


Disability Statement

If you have specific physical, psychiatric, or learning disabilities that require accommodations, please let me know early in the semester so that your learning needs may be appropriately met. You will need to provide documentation of your disability to the Disability Services Office.


Religious Holidays

Students who will miss class due to religious holidays are asked to provide their instructors with a list of the dates they will be absent by the beginning of the second week of the semester.  Missed work on these days will be excused without penalty.  These students will have the opportunity to do the make-up work within a reasonable length of time as determined in consultation with the instructor.  Students are reminded that individualized instruction cannot be provided in place of attendance at the regularly scheduled instruction period.


Campus Closure

Information regarding campus closure due to bad weather conditions is available by calling 556-2401 or by listening to local television or radio stations.  Weather decisions for daytime closures are usually made by 5:30 a.m.


Anticipating the Communication Capstone Course

The Department of Communication offers a capstone course.  During that course you will be asked to put together a communication portfolio, i.e., a compilation of the major projects completed in your communication courses.  Major projects are things such as literature reviews, position papers, rhetorical analyses, web sites you designed, communication journals, etc.  The possibility that you may one day take the capstone course means that you need to keep the major projects completed in your communication courses.  Your instructor will tell you which assignments would count as a major project.  Even if you have no intention of taking the capstone course, a communication portfolio is a valuable asset in the job interview process.


Academic Honesty

Students are expected to know, understand, and abide by the guidelines on academic integrity contained in the CU-Denver Academic Honor Code. All work done for this course must be the original work of the student submitting it and should be undertaken exclusively for this course.  Assisting in academic dishonesty (e.g. letting someone copy your assignments) can retroactively lower your grade. Violations of academic honesty will result in appropriate action under the University's rules. Any idea, image, or phraseology not their own should be honestly acknowledged as such and its source should be fully credited and properly documented.  As a rule of thumb, when in doubt, give credit to the source. 

For further clarification, plagiarism is defined and its consequences are explained in the University of Colorado At Denver 2003-2004 Catalog in the section "Academic Honor Code and Discipline Policies" (see Academic Policies, Regulations). If there can be any possible doubts about academic integrity in a course assignment, speak with me before you submit the assignment.


Due Dates and Late Penalties

All course assignments are due at the beginning of class time on their due date except if specified otherwise. To avoid penalties, arrive to class punctually with your assignment. An extension will be granted only when both of the following conditions are satisfied:  (1) a legitimate event or condition, such as an illness, prevents the student from doing the assignment; (2) the student communicates effectively; the student requests the extension in writing (e-mail is OK) at least 24 hours before the due date (except in cases of emergencies or unpredictable accidents, in which case the student should inform me as soon as is feasible).  

            Reading Evaluations are due during class. They will not be accepted at a later time.


Incomplete Policy

Incomplete grades are not given to students simply because they are receiving lower grades than they would like.  To be eligible for an incomplete grade, a student must have completed 75% of the course assignments with passing grades and have special circumstances outside their control that preclude completion of the course.  The incomplete grade that will be given if the above conditions are met is an IF, which means that if the student does not complete the work for the course within 12 months, the grade reverts to an F.   For this course, the term "Incomplete" means that the student has complied with the Departmental Attendance Policy, has delivered any required presentations, and has completed all other required course work up to the last two weeks of the semester.  For those students who meet these criteria, a potential grade of IF will be considered on a case-by-case basis. An incomplete is not automatically granted to any student in the course.



Regular attendance is beneficial and students are expected to fully participate in all class meetings.  Students are responsible for all information presented and course work assigned during any absence. The following departmental attendance policy applies: * Classes meeting 2 times per week. Four absences, for any reason, will be excused.  At the 5th absence, the grade for the course will be lowered by one letter grade.  Each subsequent absence will also result in the grade for the course being lowered another letter grade.  *5th and subsequent absences:  may be deemed excused only for the following reasons:  illness, dire medical and family emergencies, jury duty, military commitments.  Verifiable medical records and/or other documentation as requested by the instructor will be required.


Class Requirements

The seminar has been kept deliberately small to facilitate class participation.  To this end, some written work will be required.

(1) Responses – Each week, based on careful reading of the material, you will be expected to prepare several questions for discussion. You must include an indication of how your question might relate to the readings, and to the class as a whole.  Reactions are due in class, Monday. You need only submit questions a total of 8 times during the semester, allowing for some flexibility. Submissions need only be one half to a full page but should present a coherent insight into the readings, followed by one or several questions that help focus our readings and discussions.  Discussion/questions do not have to be typed, but they must be legible and professional in presentation.  I am not concerned with the form of what you submit, only that you demonstrate that you are doing the reading with a degree of insight. This requirement replaces the need for a final exam. 

(2) Presentation – Each person will also be responsible (with a partner) for a 10 minute oral presentation of the readings and related work. You may chose your partner, and grades are generally shared, so help each other.  Feel free to explore the week's topic if you wish.


Paper Requirements

The components of 'writing form' include sentence clarity, grammar, spelling, punctuation, and overall composition and will contribute some 25% of the paper grade.  Only the final paper need include a research component. You may chose from among a variety of footnote and bibliographic conventions, but be consistent.

Paper 1.  What is a community? Write a 3-4 page paper employing what we have learned so far about networks to explain what you think a community might be.  You might explore the nature of ‘civility’ and how it might contribute to creation and sustaining of community. Hand-out to follow.

            Annotated Bibliography.  Thinking about something you wish to research, you will provide a two page, at least 15 item list of books, on-line sources, etc. for a ‘final paper. Hand-out to follow.

Research Outline. Not meant to be hard.  Just provide a sense of the questions you wish to ask in your paper.

Paper 2.  How useful will the new studies of ‘networks’ be to a study, problem, or theorist of your choosing.  The various weeks topics might provide suggestions. 2500 words (10 pages or so). More details and hand-out. to follow. Graduate students will be expected to research, organize, and write a longer paper of at least 15-20 pages, with an emphasis on research, but also can in turn expect more interaction and support in developing it.


Grading Break-down

Attendance 5%

Participation 5%

Presentation 5%

Responses 15%

Short Paper 10%

Annotated Bibliography 10%

Research Outline 10%

Middle Size Paper 40%

Course Evaluation

In turn, you will have an opportunity to evaluate the course, as well as the instructor toward the end of the semester.  Your evaluation will not be available to the instructor until after the grades have been turned in. However, do consider how to constructively modify the course, and feel free at any time to sent the instructor a note, or to make a visit during office hours.



Course Outline and Readings


1. Week of Aug 18/20 - Theory and overview

Aug 18 [Departmental Alteration]. No class.

Aug 20 Introduction to course and to one another


 2. Week of Aug 25/27th – What’s up with networks?

Aug 25th – Reading Due:

* Ronfeldt, David and John Arquilla, 2001. "Networks, Netwars, and the Fight for the Future" First Monday, vol. 6, #10 (October 2001), [Hint: start early since there is a lot to read here.  We are interested in more than NetWar. Take in what they present as ‘background.’

Aug 27th - Discussion


 3. Week of Sept. 1st/3rd – Networks continued.

Sept 1 – Labor Day Holiday. Campus Closed.

Sept 3 – Reading Due:

* Kelly, Kevin. 1994. Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World . < >. “Hive Mind.” Ch. 1. Not hard.

* Barabasi, Albert- Laszlo. (2002). Linked: The New Science of Networks. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing. “Introduction” & “The Random Universe.” Ch 1,3,some of 4. [Actually, we are going to critique the scope of this popular book on ‘the new science of networks.’ And then return to it. ]

* Wellman, Barry. (1999). Networks in the Global Village. Boulder: Westview Press. “Preface.” [not long].


Academic Note:  Sept 3 – Last Date to Drop full-term courses with tuition adjustment. After this date, dropped courses require instructor’s approval. Drops after this date will appear on transcripts. 


 4. Week of Sept 8th/10thRethinking networks & scale: History & theory, Boundaries & Counting

Sept 8th– Reading Due [revised]:

* Eisenstein, Elizabeth. (1983). Shorter version of the Reading (9/4/03) Cambridge: Univ. of Cambridge Press. Selections [Printing is called "the continuing revolution." It is also one about ‘observation.' You may of course skim a bit. Key things to consider: 1. why was the new 'scientific revolution' not about a 'return to the book of nature. 2. What was the importance of 'tables' and printed facts and figures? The reading includes images, and so the pdf is a bit larger than normal. The fuller version of the article (posted earlier was this. If you want an even larger download version with more images, try this version.]

* Anderson, Benedict. (1991). Imagined Communities (Revised Edition). London/NY: Verso. Selection. Key idea here is how 'print-capitalism' can create that closed network called a 'community.'

* Hacking, Ian. (1984). The Emergence of Probability. Selection.  Cambridge: Univ. of Cambridge Pr. [An informative read that should put 'social sciences' in a new light. Also, we will be talking about this reading in the context of the origins of the 'digital.'].

* Class Handout on 'Historial Periods'

Sept 10th – Discussion

[Four Logics Overhead - as promised]

 5. Week of Sept 15th/17th – Rethinking networks & scale: Function, Structure, & Systems in Communication

Sept 15th– Reading Due [revised]:

* Wilden, Anthony. System & Structure: Essays in Communication and Exchange.(1980). “Analog and Digital Communication.” Ch 4. [A sometimes obtuse, very dense, but rewarding read on analog/digital. The main thing here is to follow the discussion between 'analog' and 'digital, between continuous and discrete. The full version [Posted Earlier] for the daring is this.]

* Allen, T.F.H. & Thomas B. Starr. (1982). Hierarchy: Perspectives in Ecological Complexity. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. “Preface” [Short reading. If you are interested in seeing where our lecture might go, then consider also reading (optional) Allen & Starr's Ch 1-2 from that book, or the Introductory Chapters on Scale from Ahl & Allen's later book.]

%% [first paired, ten minute presentation?]

Sept 17th – Discussion [Paper 1 Due].

[Professor ill! In light of this problem, I will spread next week's readings over two weeks. If you have begun or finished Wellman et alia., then feel great since you have already read ahead! We will use 'Diffusion of Innovations' as an example. Hope this reading the Diffusion reading listed below will be useful for your work!]


 6. Week of Sept 22nd/24th – Social Networks 1: History, Rogers, and Software

Sept 22 – [Note Change based on note above]

* Rogers, Everett & D. L. Kincaid. (1981). Communication Networks: Towards of a New Paradigm for Research. NY: Free Press. Selection from Chapter 3 [provides history on this research paradigm]

* Rogers, Everett. (1983). The Diffusion of Innovations. NY: Free Press [I have 3rd Edition]. Selection. [classic example, and very useful to know in most any field or discipline]

Sept 24 – Discussion:


 7. Week of Sept 29th/ Oct 1st – Social Networks 2: Newer Research.

Sept 29 – Reading Due:

* Wellman, Barry, ed. (1999).  Networks in the Global Village. "The Introduction" [pp. 1-47]

* Wellman, Barry, ed. (1999). Class members choose another chapter from this book.  Ideally we will try to choose different chapters.

Oct 1 – Discussion


 8. Week of Oct 6th/8th – Virtual Corporations Reconsidered in the Network Society

Oct 6 – Reading Due:

*Ashkenas, Ron, et alia. (1995). The Boundaryless Organization: Breaking the Chains of Organizational Structure. SF: Jossey-Bass. Selection.

* Robins, Kevin and Frank Webster. (1988). "Cybernetic Capitalism: Information, Technology, Everyday Life." In Vincent Mosco & Jane Wasko, The Political Economy of Information. Madison: Wisc.  Selections

*Lawrence Lessig. (1999). Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace. NY: Basic. Selections

Oct 8 – Discussion


9. Week of Oct 13th/15thHacktivism, Pirate Utopias, and Eluding Boundaries

Oct 13 – Reading Due:

* Bey, Hakim. (1985). TAZ: The Temporary Autonomous Zone. Brooklyn: Autonomedia. <Online>

* Lovink, Geert.  2002-2003. "The Insider's Guide to Tactical Media" in Dark Fiber. Also, the tactical media debate on Nettime listserv, and material from The Next 5 Minutes Workbook (Amsterdam).

* Denning, Dorothy. “Activism, Hacktivism, and Cyberterrorism: The Internet as a Tool for Influencing Policy.”  < > in John Arquilla, David Ronfeldt, eds. Networks and Netwars Selection.

[* Optional Reading - Deleuze, Gilles & Felix Guattari. (1987). A Thousand Plateaus. Minneapolis: U. Minnesota. Selections on ‘Rhizomes’] .

Oct 15 – Discussion

[Annotated Bibliography New Due Date]


10. Week of Oct 20th/22nd – Identity, Privacy, and Self in the Network Society

Oct 20 – Reading Due:

* Gergen, Kenneth (1991). The Saturated Self: Dilemmas of Identity in Contemporary Life. NY: Basic. Selection

* Meyrowitz, Joshua. (1985). No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior. NY: Oxford. Selection

Oct 22 – Discussion


11. Week of Oct 27th/29th – Art Worlds and Net Art

Oct 27 – Reading Due:

* Becker, Howard S. (1982). Art Worlds. Berkeley: U. Cal. Selection.

* Paul, Christiane (2003). "Tactical Media" in Digital Media. New York: Thames & Hudson, pp. 204-211. [We will return to this topic.]

Oct 29 – Discussion

[Outline Due]


12. Week of Nov 3rd/5th – Global Networks and and Local Networks (Global/Local 1)

Nov 3 – Reading Due:

*Castells, Manuel. 1996. The rise of network society. Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers. Selection.

[optional - * Appadurai, Arjun. (1996). "Disjuncture and Difference" in Modernity at large: Cultural dimensions of globalization. Minneapolis: U. of Minn. Selection.]

[optional - * Uncapher, Willard. (1995). "Placing the Mediascape in the Transnational Cultural Flow: Learning to Theorize an Emerging Global Grassroots Infrastructure"]

Nov 5 – Discussion


13. Week of Nov 10th/12th – Space and Place in the Network Society - (Global/Local 2)

Nov 10 – Reading Due:

* Soja. Edward. (2000). Postmetropolis: Critical Studies of Cities and Regions. London/NY: Blackwell. [can be read by next week. We look at 6 "discourses" or frames on globalization and place.]

* Schuler, Douglas. (1996). New Community Networks: Wired for Change. NY: Addison-Wesley. Selections. [We look at the interest to create a 'place' in the Network Society].

Nov 12 – Discussion


14. Week of Nov 17th/19th – Returning to Mass Media Networks – (Global/Local 3)

Nov 17 – Reading Due:

* Continue reading Soja.

* [Optional - Neuman, W. Russell. (1992). The Future of the Mass Audience. NY: Cambridge University Press. Selection.

* [Optional - Rosabeth Moss Kanter. World Class: Thriving Locally in the Global Economy. Selections].

* [Optional - Kerbo - Discussion on World Systems Theory: Core/Periphery/Semi-Periphery; Notions of the City as Core in the the Global Economy. Also check out Journal of World Systems Research].

Nov 19 – Discussion


15. Week of Nov 24th/26th – Emerging Theoretical Approaches and Questions: Autopoiesis, Swarms, and Emergence. We will be taking off Wed. Nov. 26th for Thanksgiving! 

Nov 24  [Readings may change]

* Howard Rheingold. Smart Mobs. Overview and Social Network Selections.

* [Optional- Howard Rheingold. Smart Mobs. Surveillance Selection

* [Optional - Re-read: Kelly, Kevin. 1994. Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World . < >. “Hive Mind.” Ch. 1

Nov 26 – Discussion


[Thanksgiving Break]


16. Review Week Dec 1st/Dec 3rd

            [Final 2500 word paper due/ see above and handouts.]


Have a great break!