The digital and social landscape appears these days to be more fluid than solid, with new technologies and platforms displacing technologies that seemed themselves magical and revolutionary only a handful of months earlier. It can be difficult in this environment either to do much beyond play catch-up or overly narrow one’s specialty. But what if we could see the bigger picture? Theory, derived from the Greek word for “a way of seeing,” offers a chance to look at the broad reach of media history and derive lessons about how media behave, how they are innovated, why some succeed and some fail, and so on. This class focuses on media theory that is actually useful to the modern media professional (“there’s nothing so practical as a good theory,” as Scott Macklin likes to say), and juxtaposes theory with case studies of those media technologies that have disrupted successfully, as well as some that have failed to do so.
“This class is a whirlwind of ideas, theories, thoughts, philosophies, wild suppositions and educated guesses. And I do mean “educated.” There’s nearly nothing Ken Rufo doesn’t know and won’t share. This class will keep you on your intellectual toes, but it’s worth every minute of the reading for the discussion that comes after. I was surprised at how inclusive the topic was – our conversations roamed, constructively, over topics as varied as wearable tech and the Segway to popular culture icons and news stories crafted by algorithms rather than journalists. And yet as broad as the discussions were, the content was both cohesive and applicable. Come to this class ready to engage and be engaged. Keep up with the readings, don’t panic.”