Media Life Course Outline (Helsinki and Amsterdam)

As of 2014 I am happy to report to be offering my media life course (originally developed at Indiana University Bloomington) at various places, in different ways.

Here you will find the course outline, organized in sections (styled similar as TED-talks). The course primarily builds on the various chapters of the Media Life (ML) book. All the other readings are linked to below.
  • Section one: introduction. We discuss course expectations, do a survey on the media lives of participants, talk about the creative assignment (examples of earlier student films can be found at YouTube). We also review the media life concept based on the Preface of the book. 
  • Section two: media and life defined. Where we will define media (and life) using the taxonomy of artefacts, activities and arrangements as proposed by (among others) Sonia Livingstone and Leah Lievrouw in their Handbook of New Media (2006). Reading is chapter two of the book (Media Today), and we explore a genealogy of media using the timeline of the Media History Project and the Pictorial History of Media site.
  • Section three: the convergence of humans and machines. Here a history of man-machine evolution is presented, referencing the first chapter of the book (Media Life), as well as using deep readings of two masterpieces of Romantic literature on the topic: Edgar Allen Poe’s The Man That Was Used Up (1839), and E.T.A. Hoffman's The Sandman (1816).
  • Section four: society as a living archive at the end of forgetting. Reading: chapter three (What Media Do), and using Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report (1956) we will dive deeply into issues of memory, archiving, and forgetfulness. Jorge Luis Borges' brilliant short story The Library of Babel (1941) will also feature.
  • Section five: you are being watched, and live in public, exploring every possible dimension of living in a time of massive mutual monitoring, using chapter four (No Life Outside Media) as a reference.
  • Section six: “I know where I came from - but where did all you zombies come from?” is a quote from Robert Heinlein's fascinating short story "All You Zombies" (1954). Using chapter five (Society in Media), we engage the question whether or not we are already living in a world after the zombie apocalypse - and whether this could be considered to be a good thing.
  • Section seven: we are all together alone. Our world can be seen as a silent disco, where we are all dancing together alone. Using Adolfo Bioy Casares’ novella The Invention of Morel (1940) we can begin to consider the consequences of such a life that is connected and disconnected at the same time.
  • Section eight: love, sex and death in media (life). This is where we use the theory of evolution to engage fundamental questions about our relationships with each other in media, reading (next to chapter seven, In Media We Fit), the final chapter of Charles Darwin’s epic “On the Origin of Species (1859).
  • Section ten, eleven and twelve: in these final sections, we look forward and beyond media life and consider what our options are: waging war on our machines (for this choice, Samuel Butler’s response to Charles Darwin is useful, see “Darwin Among the Machines” from 1863), surrendering to a reality made in media by media (this choice is developed nicely in all The Matrix movies from 1999-2003), or making and hacking our reality (together - as in Stephen Colbert’s concept of “Wikiality - or alone, as seen in Neal Stephenson’s "Snow Crash" from 1992).
All these concepts and themes are addressed by the course trailer, courtesy of Austin Guevara: