Fall 2012: Byrne Seminar: Republic of Web

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Class meetings: Wednesday, 1:10pm-2:30pm, CI-337.
Instructor: Dr. Chirag Shah
Phone: (732) 932-7500 x8240
Office: Room 334 in SC&I
Office hours: By appointment
Latest news/announcements
● 12/17/2012: Final grades submitted. That's all folks!
● 11/14/2012: Final project has been graded.
● 11/10/2012: Assignment-8 has been graded.
● 10/31/2012: Deadline for the project report extended to Sunday, 11th due to the storm.

Course Description
People can change information, but can information change people? The Web is increasingly becoming a peer-to-peer connection network. It is not uncommon for a piece of information, such as an online video, to be blogged and tweeted through various channels, connecting a myriad of people in the process. This seminar will introduce students to the "Republic of Web" by examining the ways in which new media is redefining our democratic thinking and affecting various socio-political issues. As a group, we will carry out a series of experiments and analyses around a number of online communities to explore how people, information, and technology connect in synergetic ways.

A sense of adventure!

Course Materials
There are no books for this course. The instructor will assign readings from various sources, which will be available through the Sakai site.

Learning Objectives
By the end of the course, students should be able to:
  • Describe concepts such as Web 2.0, social media, and social networking;
  • Define a research problem in the area of social media and online participation;
  • Collect data from social media sources;
  • Analyze social media data;
  • Identify and address hypotheses pertaining to social media data.

Instructional Methods
The course combines lectures, discussions, demonstrations, and assignments/projects to help students understand various aspects of the new Web, media, and people participation. Students are encouraged to discuss, question, and clarify course content in class meetings.
The assignments are individual and group work. The assignments reflect a process and each one builds on the results of the previous. All focus on understanding effects of social media and social networking on various socio-informational constructs, and will follow the material discussed in class.

  • Web and Web 2.0
  • Introduction to social media and social networking
  • Collecting and analyzing social media data
  • Deriving research problems and hypotheses relating to social media and social networking
  • Using data mining to address research problems

Course Assessment
This is a one credit pass/fail course. To obtain a pass, the student should have attended at least 80% of the classes, and turned in at least 80% of the assignments, unless the instructor provides a permission for missing more classes or assignments.

Course Policies
Announcements: Students are responsible for all announcements made in class, whether or not they are present when the announcements are made.
Late submissions: Deadlines are your responsibility. Late submissions may be accepted with a penalty. In the case of unforeseen emergencies (e.g. with a doctor's note), or with a prior permission from the instructor (obtained before the due date), late submissions will be graded normally. Late submissions will not receive any verbal or written feedback.
Communication: For emails, Rutgers accounts preferred. Always include your name (esp. if emailing from non-Rutgers account) and always include the course number (Byrne 101) in subject line. If you don't, your email most likely will not be read. This course uses Sakai, primarily for submitting assignments and posting grades. Speaking of communication, please turn off or silent your cellphones and anything that can spontaneously make noise before entering the class. Please do not text nor view text messages during class. Please do not use computers to check e-mail, IM, surf the web, and other such activities. This is distracting for other students and there have been student complaints about this. If you are caught using a cell phone or other communication you will receive one warning, on the second occurrence you will be excused from classroom.
Attendance: Students are expected to attend all classes. If you expect to miss one or two classes, please use the University absence reporting website https://sims.rutgers.edu/ssra/ to indicate the date and reason for your absence. An email is automatically sent to me. You are responsible for obtaining any material that might have been distributed in class the day when you were absent.
Students with Disabilities: Students with documented disabilities who wish accommodations in this class must do so through the Rutgers Disabilities Services Office. Visit their website for details.

Academic Integrity
Academic integrity means, among other things:
  • Develop and write all of your own assignments.
  • Show in detail where the materials you use in your papers come from. Create citations whether you are paraphrasing authors or quoting them directly. Be sure always to show source and page number within the assignment and include a bibliography in the back.
  • Do not look over at the exams of others or use electronic equipment such as cell phones or MP3 players during exams.
  • Do not fabricate information or citations in your work.
  • Do not facilitate academic dishonesty for another student by allowing your own work to be submitted by others.
If you are doubtful about any issue related to plagiarism or scholastic dishonesty, please discuss it with the instructor. At the instructor's discretion, work presented in this course is subject to verification of originality, using www.turnitin.com.
The consequences of scholastic dishonesty are very serious. Rutgers' academic integrity policy is at this site. An overview of this policy may be found here. Multimedia presentations about academic integrity may be found here and here.

How to Succeed in this Course
  • Successful students will attend class regularly. If you know you must miss a class, please contact the instructor in advance, either by phone or email. You can obtain assignments or notes from a fellow classmate or from the instructor. In the case of a prolonged absence from class, you should schedule an appointment with the instructor so we can discuss the course material and concepts that you missed.
  • Successful students will pay close attention to the course goals and objectives, because they will help you master the course material. If you have any questions about any of the objectives, please ask the instructor. Questions are encouraged during class for clarification. Remember that you're probably not the only one in the class with the same question. If you have questions about material from previous classes, please email me prior to the next class session, and I'll address your question at the beginning of the class session, prior to any quizzes.
  • Successful students will talk to their classmates about the course material. You will find that they can help you understand many complex issues.
  • Successful students will come prepared to the class with assigned readings for that class. This will help you comprehend the material for that class better. Regular assignments will also be given at the end of each class. Doing these assignments and turning them on time (typically before the next class), will help you obtain higher-order learning goals for this course.

  1. Access the class material promptly and on time.
  2. Respect yourself, classmates, and the instructor.
  3. Participate in class discussions.
  4. Display preparedness for class through completing reading assignments.
  5. Present content knowledgeably with supported reasoning.

Chirag Shah