Fall 2003

The fall semester begins today; my class begin tomorrow, Wednesday. There are several things we need to cover on the first day: introducing one another; going over the syllabus, web ct, and setting up a blog; and getting to know the computers. However, the main questions that concern me on the first day (and in some sense throughout the semester) deal with communicating an understanding of why the course is constructed as it is. I think most students can appreciate the value of learning to do web design, even if they do see themselves really getting involved in it in their careers. So the practical aspects of the course make sense. I think it is more difficult for students to appreciate why I think it is important for them to read a “difficult” text like Ulmer’s Internet Invention or historical texts from computer engineers and avant-garde artists. From my perspective though, a “how-to” course would not be a college course. You can learn “how-to” design a web page from reading a book or attending a three-day workshop. A college course, in my view, has to ask difficult questions, questions that do not have answers or have many equally good answers like “how does writing relate to how we understand our minds?” or “why has new media taken the particular form we see it in today?” or “how do new technologies alter the way we communicate?” or “how will our culture change in the coming global information culture?” College courses provide students the opportunity to consider complex problems because college graduates are expected to be able to think in complex terms, regardless of their profession. So from my perspective, the more complex the better … and trust me there are plenty of levels of complexity for us to work through!

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