Overview of information and communication technologies, digital media, and standards in relationship to information agencies within the context of current societal controversies.

The widespread development and adoption of digital technologies, standards, and processes has affected all of the information agencies that work to make knowledge available for both public and private interests. This course takes a broad, conceptual look at the main challenges for information agencies as they continue to innovate with new digital tools themselves — to serve their own stakeholders and accomplish their own missions, often in the public interest — within a broader, global environment where others are also using these same digital tools for a whole host of related (and sometimes contradictory) aims — from creation and collaboration to marketing and surveillance, often in the private interest.

The first half of this course deals with four key challenges for any information agency acting in the public interest: cooperating within networks, digitizing the cultural record, promoting online literacy, and addressing digital divides and differences. The second half of this course explores five key sets of digital interests and activists whose work in the world has significant consequences for information agencies: the postdemographic data merchants, the collaborative problem-solvers, the manufacturers of desire, the amateur content curators, and the virtual publishers.

Please note: This is not a technology training course. While there will be several opportunities for hands-on experiences with a variety of digital technologies, this is not a course where you will learn a particular metadata standard, or software package, or database query language. This is a course where you will wrestle with the concepts and consequences of the digital information infrastructure which increasingly structures our personal and professional lives.