Unit 1

Unit 1: What is wrong with the internet?


Important Due Dates:

1/22 – in class – select your own topic or one from this prompt

1/29 – Feeder 1.1

2/5 – Feeder 1.2

2/12 – complete rough draft

2/19– Unit 1 Final Project for a grade

4/26 – OPTIONAL – Revised Unit 1 project


What can the humanities provide the tech world?

In our first unit project, we will learn college-level research while working within the genre of a digital magazine article. You will create an 700-1000-word digital essay that utilizes strong academic research (3 secondary sources) and images, video, or other embedded media to argue a particular point of view using Adobe Spark or WordPress.

What I want you to think about is as much as code and computation and data can feel as if they are mechanistically neutral, they are not. Even software engineering is political. Technology products and services are created by humans who often times are unaware that they build their biases or flawed view of the world right into those products and services. We are seeing it now because these services scale up so well and begins to shape human behavior and society, often to a frightening degree.


Genre Purpose Audience Writer’s Role Exigence (Rhetorical Situation)
Digital Magazine article


Inform online visitors about a potential problem with a product or service on the web or web-based.


 General Public


Writer for Medium


You’ve just been hired by the “Technology” section of Medium, an online magazine. This section’s aim is to report on issues in the technology world. Your task is to research a topic and report it in a new and compelling way.


You can imagine that you’ve just been hired by the “Technology” section of Medium, an online magazine targeted at a general audience. This section’s aim is to report on issues in the technology world. Your task is to research a topic and report it in a new and compelling way.  Your final essay will be 700-1000 words and include images, video, or other embedded medium. Make sure to check out this link to see a good example.


Feeder 1.1 – Outline of Topic – Due 1/29

  • Turn into Sakai – DropBox
  • “Save as” your document – Last name Feeder 1.1
  • Write a short description (at least 100 words) of your topic and background.
  • Outline the social issue(s) and issue(s) of technology raised in the topic.
    • The outline should answer the following questions:
      • What social issues and issues of technology are raised in the topic?
      • How does the technology company discuss these issues? How has this impacted the public?
      • Why is this topic potentially harmful or beneficial to the public?


Feeder 1.2 – Secondary Source Analysis – Due 2/5

  • Turn into Sakai – DropBox
  • “Save as” your document – Last name Feeder 1.2

Because magazine articles need to use verifiable sources to support their claims, you will need at least three secondary sources. For this feeder, you will need to select at least two scholarly sources and one popular sources sources to verify key facts in your essay.  Because it is unlikely that there will be any many academic sources directly on your topic, you will need to gather sources relating to topic more generally, the social issues brought up, and the technological issues.

Generate an MLA citation for each source and then answer the following questions for each source in a small paragraph right under each citation:

  1. What type of source is this – popular, scholarly? How do you know?
  2. What is the main idea of this source?
  3. How does this source relate to the topic?
  4. Give two important quotes that directly relate to your topic. Make sure to include page numbers (if available).


Unit 1 Final Project – Due 2/16

Tone and length

Remember that this is an online magazine article, so you will need to use language and structure appropriate to this genre – writing for an educated, popular audience in a digital environment.  The length of the essay should be 700-1000 words. Additionally, you should have at least four images/video/visualization and use headings, color, and font that best serves your multimodal project – think about our discussion of what makes a good and persuasive multimodal text.

Components of Online Magazine Article:

Your goal in this assignment is to explain your topic, expanding on at least one social issue that is caused by your product or service. The way that you present this information is up to you.

You might consider starting with explaining the technology itself and then going into the relevant social issues or you may choose to do the inverse –Whatever your choice, you will need to make it compelling. Please ensure that you are including the following as well:


  • Works Cited
    • MLA formatted
    • Links to other relevant webpages.
    • Include at least 2 scholarly and 1 popular source


  • Images
    • Include at least 4 images/videos/visualizations that include proper citations, links, and captions




Some Ideas for you:


Fundamentals and Questions about Big Data and Algorithms:


Government: Two White House Reports on Big Data





These Academic Articles:

Critical Questions for Big Data:



A brief overview about interrogating algorithmic authority:



Ethics of Algorithms: Mapping the Debate



Algorithmic Harms and Computational Agency:






These popular news articles:

How companies learn your  secrets (A well-known popular article)



Data brokers:




Machine Learning:








For the more-technically minded:




Work, Employment, Skills and AI:


Peck, Don. 2013. They’re Watching You at Work. The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/12/theyre-watching-you-at-work/354681/


Leonard, Andrew. 2013. Your Boss Wants to be Nate Silver: http://www.salon.com/2013/12/13/your_boss_wants_to_be_nate_silver/


Nathan R. Kuncel, Deniz S. Ones and David M. Klieger. 2014. In Hiring, Algorithms Beat Instinct. https://hbr.org/2014/05/in-hiring-algorithms-beat-instinct


Tufekci, Zeynep. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/19/opinion/sunday/the-machines-are-





Policing and Crime:

















Also if you have any technical interest, this is an interesting discussion:















Affective Robots: