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Mid-Semester Evaluation: Looking Backwards and Forward

Anne Dalke's picture

By 5 p.m. on Sun, Mar. 13, please post here, as a "new comment," a mid-semester course evaluation that looks both backwards and forward: What's working, and what needs working on, for you as an individual? What's working, and what needs working on, for us as a group (on-line, in class, in conversation and on the panels)? What are you learning individually? What are we learning collectively? Where are the edges of y/our learning now? What dimensions of gender, information, science and technology have we not yet explored? What books or films can you suggest, which we could use to learn more about these unexplored terrains?

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Comments

spreston's picture

Evaluation - didn't post as new comment before, oops!

Like a lot of my classmates, I was not what to expect from the class.  To cover all the issues that Gender, Information, Science, and Technology bring up in our society would be impossible in just one semester!!  While I have learned a little about each of those subjects throughout other classes, I have liked this class because I had not really thought about how these areas intersect until now.  Also, although the class is big, I have actually kind of liked that because there is such a diverse group of perspectives and people in the class.  Just in our last reading, I appreciated the idea of appreciating and exploring differences rather than trying to make everything equal.  In having such a large class, I think I have been able to appreciate the differences in my peers' views, which is cool. 

While I like that we have learned a little bit about Gender, Information, and now getting into Science, one downside to having so many topics to cover is that there are still so many questions to be asked about each topic.  I am really confused about my opinions on a lot of what we have read and I hope to explore my confusion in our final project or something.  Maybe exploring things further will only make me more confused though, so who knows!  Getting used to the online format of the class is a little tough for me just because I love having things printed out and ready to mark-up for me.  I think it's been good for me to try to get used to something like this since our world is becoming increasingly paperless.

I may be too late to suggest something, but I think that The Social Network is a film (or the book, too) that has a lot of relevance to this class.

fawei's picture

Like many others, I wasn't

Like many others, I wasn't sure what I was expecting from this class. It is cross-listed as two very different subjects so that contributed to some confusion. I was looking for a CS class (the selections were really limited this semester) and I had heard good things about it from someone in my English 250 class. 

I think a lot of the discussion methods in this class have been effective in different ways. Talking to everyone in class seemed effective to some people, while small groups and blog posting are effective for people who don't feel comfortable talking in front of large groups. It might be beneficial to encourage more replies for our blog posts so we respond to others' ideas.

There have been several main ideas that we have looked that seem to be useful, but not addressed directly by any ideologies or methods in the humanities (I think?) such as the blurring of boundaries, communication being essential to information and more extensive peer review. I think this highlights well the issues and benefits that arise out of trying to combine technology with the humanities.

But whenever we more or less focus on gender, things get frustrating. Discussions about nice moral ways to push gender reform are the only times where I feel the discussion goes nowhere. It does a good job at showing all the problems of current and potential systems, but it's all negative. It's an important issue, but I still think all ideas are too easy to shoot down, especially for people who are not experts in the field. 

I'm a little late to add the course materials but I do like a lot of things that the previous posters said, though, especially the dystopia novels suggested by Hillary G, kelliot and Franklin20.

 

Hillary G's picture

Mid-Semester Evaluation

        Upon entering this class, I did not know what to expect. I thought it might be about how gender has been portrayed through the media, or how technology has formed a specific idea of gender through film and the internet. But this past semester was much richer of a class than I anticipated.

 

           Personally, I like asking questions. I often think it’s more important to ask the right question than to find a right answer. GIST has provided a forum in which to do that, both in and out of class. I have found both elements very beneficial. This structure usually does not work very well (such as when professors use blackboard’s “discussion board” for assignments), but in ours it fits perfectly with our subject matter. I have enjoyed being able to read other people’s responses to our class discussions, and I have found that posting weekly has kept me focused on the material outside of the classroom.

 

               I’m also glad to have such an interesting group of peers in the class. This past semester I have continued to be amazed at how diverse our perspectives are. The exercises in which we went around the room saying how we each perceive something were really interesting—it was like getting a glimpse of each person’s unique impression of the world.

 

          One of the major ideas of our course is the integration and disintegration of boundaries. We have learned how to examine categories more critically, and analyze aspects of our world we often take for granted. I personally have come to see my phone as a tool of extended cognition, and while using the computer (like right now) the word “cyborg” now comes to mind. I suppose I would credit this course for changing my perception of my daily life, and I think it has had a similar effect on my classmates.

 

           I am interested to see what books or films my peers suggest for our class. I was thinking maybe a book like Brave New World or a film like The Matrix, but I don’t feel very original with those….

spreston's picture

Like a lot of my classmates,

Like a lot of my classmates, I was not what to expect from the class.  To cover all the issues that Gender, Information, Science, and Technology bring up in our society would be impossible in just one semester!!  While I have learned a little about each of those subjects throughout other classes, I have liked this class because I had not really thought about how these areas intersect until now.  Also, although the class is big, I have actually kind of liked that because there is such a diverse group of perspectives and people in the class.  Just in our last reading, I appreciated the idea of appreciating and exploring differences rather than trying to make everything equal.  In having such a large class, I think I have been able to appreciate the differences in my peers' views, which is cool. 

While I like that we have learned a little bit about Gender, Information, and now getting into Science, one downside to having so many topics to cover is that there are still so many questions to be asked about each topic.  I am really confused about my opinions on a lot of what we have read and I hope to explore my confusion in our final project or something.  Maybe exploring things further will only make me more confused though, so who knows!  Getting used to the online format of the class is a little tough for me just because I love having things printed out and ready to mark-up for me.  I think it's been good for me to try to get used to something like this since our world is becoming increasingly paperless.

I may be too late to suggest something, but I think that The Social Network is a film (or the book, too) that has a lot of relevance to this class. 

vgaffney's picture

Mid-Semester Evaluation

 Looking Backwards—

So far I’ve found many aspects of the class to be quite productive. As someone who is not as comfortable participating (especially in a large classroom) I have found the dialogue structure to be very helpful. I think the way the class is conducted overall in terms of discussion is working quite well and have found the on-line postings surprisingly engaging and worthwhile. Individually, I feel I should work more on participating in the discussions within the classroom, but I do feel I’ve gained a lot from the both the in class and online discussions.

As a group I think the discussions are generally effective in getting the majority of the class to participate. I think sometimes too much time is spent on business at the very beginning of class which can make the start of a conversation seem a bit forced or rushed. I realize that business is important and relevant, but perhaps maybe this process could be sped up a bit at the beginning of class. I thought the panels were very engaging, but could have been a bit more structured which would have allowed for a more directed discussion, possibly making it even more productive.

I’ve learned a good deal individually through the combination of readings and class discussions. As a group I think everyone in the class has gained a lot from hearing their peers’ opinions on the material covered in the readings and class.

Looking Forwards—

There is definitely a good deal more to learn within the domains of gender, information, science and technology, and the intersections. I would be interested in looking more at scientific advancements and their various implications for gender and other aspects of society. Although very lengthy, I am intrigued by the book Godel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter. Perhaps the class could read a few excerpts. The author himself calls the book: "a metaphorical fugue on minds and machines in the spirit of Lewis Carroll", which instantly reminded me of this class. From what I know of the book there’s a really interesting structure which employs metaphorical language and touches on a variety of related issues in computer science, cognitive science, and philosophical thought. I’m also fairly certain there’s an interesting discussion on gender near the beginning of the book. 

 

Hilary_Brashear's picture

Mid Semester Evaluation

After I took Anthropology of Gender last semester I was left wondering about dynamics between gender and science, biology specifically. The beginning of this course was a fascinating next step of learning for me and I found our readings and discussions to exactly what I wanted to read and discuss. Apart from the topics of the class, the structure has been different than any other classes that I have taken. I like having the opportunity to share my thoughts online and to be able to read what other people have to say. Because it is hard to read everyone’s posts I like that certain reoccurring or challenging ideas that have appeared in the posts are grouped together and read out loud in class.  It is also convenient having all the course notes and discussion notes online to refer to.   

 I have never had a course that was so publically online but I think it is a great idea and I think more courses should have their learning process be as open as this one. It has definitely made re consider how I write papers and I would like to be more creative in other classes and see the reaction of those professors. What I have learned so far from this course is to keep an open mind and to constantly challenge what you take for granted. How I think of myself and my relationship to the world around me has also changed and I am much more interested in finding the similarities in life rather than concentrating on differences.

For the future I would be nice if we could break into smaller groups for discussion and then report back to the whole group because it is hard with such a large group to have everyone speak and it would be nice to hear what other people have to say in a setting that might not be as intimidating as the whole class. I think it is sometimes hard to talk in class because I need some time to digest these new ideas and ways of thinking. It can also be frustrating when we are constantly collectively defining, and redefining ideas ( I am thinking of our definition of information for example) and I don’t feel like we have come to an agreement we have just complicated the idea.

A film that I think would be great to watch in this course is called Daisies and is the most well known film by the director that I was for the panel discussion, Vera Chytilova. This film challenges our idea of narrative and of movie watching. It has and can be read in different ways tying into our discussion of information. I would be interested to discuss how much of this film is data and how much is information. It also ties together our discussions of the portrayal of gender and how it can be constructed/ deconstructed. This film could be used to discuss any of the topics we have discusses already and lead us in new directions by bringing them all together.

 

Amophrast's picture

Mid semester evaluation

The format of this class is not an entirely new concept to me. When I try to explain this course to people, I usually say something along the lines of "it's like having a class that has an online discussion board or forum...except that this one works." Usually it's hard to get people to interact or converse with each other on online mediums like this, but I think this class is pretty successful in executing that. But I still wish there was a bit more interaction between the posts rather than thoughts that exist as separate posts and entities. I think there's a lot of bridges that could be built between thoughts, and this should happen online like an extension of classroom discussion.

I'm still working on trying to form and revise my own opinions about things. Over spring break I had an externship at Wellesley College focusing on Book Arts and Book Conservation while also spending time in other parts of the library such as Special Collections and Archives. So a lot of what's been on my mind is the physical book, and the methods that information were kept and preserved. I've also been looking into Library and Information Sciences which opens a whole new dimension about information... So in Special Collections I've looked at Babylonian clay tablets, a manuscript with 300 leaves (with a proportion of one animal skin per two leaves), a book of which no other copy or version has been recorded to exist ever... and then I moved to talking to someone in Serials Acquisitions and the Digital Librarian about the transition to digitization. I'm still trying to formulate my thoughts into an actual posting...

I am kind of surprised to see what seemed to be a very strong interest or focus on gender kind of dilute itself as we moved on to the next section of the course. There has to be some way of bringing gender back as a strongly incorporated concept without feeling as if we have to shift from one to the other. Another thing I've noticed is that it seems to be a lot easier to talk about gender/information when the gender aspect applies to either a female or someone who identifies as LGBTQIA etc. Does this mean that there's nothing to learn about men, or more specifically, men who identify as straight? Do we know everything? Should we not focus on them because they have already gotten their chance to be the primary, majority focus?

I think Futurama could have value or importance in the context of this course, but I can't think of specific episodes off the top of my head. Treasure Planet (a Disney movie) might also serve as a good comparison to any other version of Treasure Island... But I see that Franklin20 suggested Brave New World, so I would like to second that, if only because I really enjoy that book.

Apocalipsis's picture

Apo's MID-SEMESTER COURSE EVAL.

Looking Backwards

The structure of the class works very well in aiding my learning process. By formatting the class so that we always begin reviewing the process concepts, it allows me to consistently build on my perspective using those of my peers. I also enjoy the incorporation of technology into our academics.  Serendip usage is also very helpful in comparison to BlackBoard. It is more visually pleasing and allows us to keep track of our conversations, syllabi, and course notes.

Although we are incorporating technology into our class, it would be helpful if we as a class could brainstorm together at different stages of the semester to share our relationship with technology and ways we can write less academic papers and use different formats more.

Per our group discussions, I enjoy how we question ourselves and each other, however sometimes it feels like the discussion can get too philosophical and abstract and there was a time when I felt we sidetracked from the topic a little too much.

Individually, I have learned how to use technology more (ex: incorporating media such as youtube videos onto my blog posts). I am also learning more about the relationship between gender, information, science and technology. Since that is not direct, over the course of my learning at Bryn Mawr I have taken many gender and sexuality courses. I have been able to build upon that knowledge in this course in addition to applying it to technology. Every day I use technology different ways but I have never consistently thought about its relationship to the theme of identity and of how online we can assume different identities. I also enjoy the discussing how we learn as individuals and the impact that evolving technologies allowing us to multi-task may disrupt our critical thinking.

Collectively, we are learning about our individual and group identity through our relationship with gender, sexuality, education (through how we process information,), online virtual personalities, and through our continuously re-defining technology. Sometimes I take it for granted that communication can be a form of technology.

Looking Forwards

The edge of my learning right now is to continue questioning how information is processed. The dimension of gender, information, science and / or technology that have we not yet explored yet is perhaps the connection between mind, body, spirituality and technology. My fiancé recently purchased Gary Zukav’s book The Seat of the Soul. According to an amazon.com review “ Zukav questions the Western model of the soul, alleging that the human species is in the midst of a great transformation, evolving from a species that pursues power based upon the perceptions of the five senses--"external power"--to one that pursues power based upon perceptions of the soul--"authentic power." He believes that humans are immortal souls first, physical beings second, and that once we become conscious of this transformation--once we align our personalities with our soul--we will stimulate our spiritual growth and become better people in the process. This insightful, lucid synthesis of modern psychology and new-age principles has been described as the "physics of the soul."

 

J.Yoo's picture

Evaluation.

Looking back

I was nervous going in the beginning of the semester, because I haven't taken an English course since last year, and because writing is a weak point of mine. I've enjoyed this course, though, especially the class discussions. I don't always feel confident enough in my own opinions to speak, but the online part of the course helps with that, since I can try phrasing an idea a few times before actually putting it out there for the world to see. Even though I don't usually understand the readings, with the discussions and postings, I feel like I can fill in the gaps enough to see the big picture.

As a class, we also seem to do best at discussions. Ideas are proposed, altered, mixed, blended. They adapt and evolve and grow into bigger and more intricate things, and it's beautiful to watch. I'd like it if we could have more online discussions over the forum, the ones where we all comment on a post instead of just posting our individual responses, like this one; since we have to scroll to the bottom to comment, we also have to read other peoples posts and ideas, which encourages replies.

Now

I've learned a lot about information, something I've never really thought about before. And it's important! Information seems like the thread that stitches gender, science, and technology together; without information, none of these ideas could be communicated or adapted, or blended. They couldn't grow.

Looking forward

We've talked about information and its translations, but what about its power? Information can be used to improve life, or abused to ruin it.

I'd like to suggest watching Paprika, a 2006 Japanese animated film, directed by Satoshi Kon. In this world, the subconscious is explored through Dream Therapy, specifically using a device that allows its user to watch other's dreams. Paprika focuses on information through the use of technology; while Dream Therapy benefits individuals who use it properly, it can blend dreams and reality, causing the entire city to dream while awake, with catastrophic results.

Paprika shows the effects of raw information, and how it can be bent to suit different purposes, since both the protagonist and antagonist change themselves and the way they are viewed to their advantage.  It also shows how your information can affect other people, since the population of the city has to deal with the altered reality as the main characters do battle.

 

rubikscube's picture

Evaluation

At the start of the semester, I was a bit worried about taking this class since I hadn't taken an English class before. The large class size was especially intimidating. I'm not used to having classes where we are encouraged to participate, so I found the online postings to be very helpful. It's nice to have time to think about my response to a reading or class conversation without needing to come up with what to say on the spot. Though I like the online aspect of this class, it was stressful at first to know that everyone could read my work, especially my web events. This is something I am still getting used to, and I find it helpful to read others' postings and web events to learn about their ideas. As a group, I think this online forum is a good way to get our thoughts out. For the people who don't always talk in class (including myself), I think it's interesting to read their online postings. Towards the beginning of the semester, I think we were encouraged to make comments on each others' posts, so I think we can all do a better job with that.

Individually, I am learning new and exciting ways to convey information. I've demonstrated this through my web events, where I am learning that there are non-traditional ways to do a paper. I've stayed away from English classes because I find it difficult to express my ideas in the tradition paper format, so exploring new formats allowed me to get my ideas across while learning from the process of writing itself. I think this is also true for us collectively because I've seen some very interesting web events that are also in a non-traditional format. From watching "Conceiving Ada," I noticed that a lot of the science, especially computer science, was non-realistic. For the future of our class, I think it would be interesting to explore what makes science realistic or not. I would like to see the difference between true computer science and how people perceive what it is. A new movie that explores this topic is "Source Code." This movie suggests that being inside a computer program (the source code) can enable a person to cross over into another person's identity. This movie seems to be a good example of non-realistic science, and I think it would be interesting to learn more about this.

MissArcher2's picture

Evaluating GIST

Where We've Been:

I'm not sure what exactly I expected from this course at the start of the semester, but we've definitely explored concepts and ideas that hadn't yet occurred to me. My thinking about gender, technology, information, and the relationship between them is rapidly expanding. The readings have been complex but useful, although I've especially enjoyed the way we used the panel and discussion about the film to learn from each other in class.  I also think it's great to see the interaction on Serendip as people read and comment on the work of their classmates, although more of that is always better- and a goal is to contribute more, myself.

Forward Thinking:

I'm interested in ways to use this site as more of an extension of the classroom than we currently do, and interacting more online is definitely something I want to work on personally! As a group, there seems to be a missing link between what we think and say in small discussion groups or when prodded and what we volunteer in discussions. I think the quality of the regular class discussion could be much improved with more willingness to volunteer thoughts and ideas to the group. Perhaps there is something intimidating about this structure that could be adapted to make students more comfortable and increase the volume of ideas that we are able to share. I hope that on the next panel, I'll be able to share more about what I'm bringing to the table, since I felt like the last discussion was more focused on specific experiences and I didn't get asked many questions.

Edges of Learning:

Individually, I'm learning to get comfortable in a larger classroom and how to think and talk about topics like science, technology, and information that are unfamiliar and out of my comfort zone. Collectively, I think we're learning about the give and take dynamics of larger group discussion and about the limits (or lack thereof) of web papers vs traditional papers that we may be more accustomed to. 

It's been a long time since I thought about anything related to science or technology, and the study of information and gender were new to me this semester as well. My "edges of learning" have expanded through this course to include these new topics, but I often feel very bogged down in minor details and endless debates over small definitions. I hope that as the semester goes on, I'll be able to see a clearer big picture that will help me get from point A to point B eventually, even if the meaning is in the journey. 

Where We're Going:

We've covered very interesting aspects of gender, information and technology and how they shape and change our world, but I think the interaction of gender with science/information/technology remain unexplored. How does gender, in whatever way we define it, affect the science, information and technology of our world? Do we relate differently to these topics based on gender? Also, in our discussion of technology and information in our world, I think we should look to the future and think about where we're headed as these topics rapidly evolve. 

In a previous post, I suggested Mike Chorost's recent book, World Wide Mind, and I still think that would be a very interesting and relevant book for our class, as it would provide both a looking back and a moving forward glance at information, science and technology. Predictably, what's left out of many of the texts I've come across is gender, and I haven't come across any material that brings gender into conversation with the other topics in our course. The book I read for my first project, Cinderella Ate My Daughter, was a very interesting exploration of girlhood, marketing, and nature vs nuture, and I think parts of that could be enlightening and relevant as well. 

Franklin20's picture

Mid-Semester Evaluation

Overall, I have enjoyed class so far this semester.  I really enjoy the tensions created by the readings.  I like the way that they push off of each other and force the class to further our thinking on a particular topic.  I particularly liked this last unit on information, especially at the start when we read Paul Grobestein and Katherine Rowe and tried to define what is information/ what is noise.  I did, however, find Katherine Hayles to be frustrating because I thought that her arguments in her papers, especially in "How We Read," were poorly constructed and inefficiently argued.  With that said, I wish would could delve into the text more.  In Katherine Hayles' case, I feel like it would have been easier to challenge or appreciate her arguments if we really teased out her arguments rather than skim over her main points.  By that I mean, instead of just bring up Katherine Hayles' distinctions of reading (close, hyper, machine) and discuss it in relation to the rest of the class and its readings, I would have liked to explore how Katherine Hayles comes to these new forms of reading and using this as grounding to explore whether we can even accept Hayles' opinion on reading based on how she ushers for her new distinctions and how they interact with how what we have learned so far.  As one who primarily close reads, I personally find it difficult to value the tensions and make connections between readings if we skim of the intricacies and movements made within the texts that we read.  And while I think that our discussions are extremely useful, I think that at times the discussions become a bit slow and anecdotal because they aren't as grounded in the text (which function as a shared experience for our discussion) as they could be.  I thought that our discussion of the film Conceiving Ada was really fruitful and I think that it is because all of our discussion tied directly back to the film which grounded our discussion in something that we all experienced.  With all of that said, I feel that my challenge in this class is to explore other types of reading other than close reading.  But overall, I really enjoy the class.  I like how everybody comes from such diverse backgrounds (some English majors, some computer science majors, some with a history in film studies, etc) and I like how each of these disciplines are invoked in class to develop a better understanding on the topic at hand.

 

For a book, I would suggest that we read Brave New World by Aldus Huxley, Farhrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury or 1984 by Gerog Orwell.  One of the questions that interested me the most was "what happens if somebody rejects technological advancement? Are they not a cyborg?  Does the rejection of technology make that person unnatural?"  All of these books examine a technologically advanced, distopic society (distopic according to the protagonist.  A majority of characters sink happily into the way of life depicted into these other book) and explores what happens when one person resists.  I feel that these books would be a good way to examine not only the rejection of technology but also the skewing of information (as the societies in all of these books seems to only be able to function by severely altering the information available to its citizens.)

kelliott's picture

Course Eval & Film Suggestions

             I have really enjoyed the class discussions and smaller group interactions thus far in the semester. As a psychology major, I am used to lectures and little discussion so I find the change in structure extremely refreshing. I also find it easier for me to organize my thoughts when I can bounce them off of two or three other people. I think I need to work on bringing my ideas into the overall class discussion, particularly in drawing from the assigned readings. I also would like to explore more options for my web projects that would allow me to challenge myself; I want to see how I can use the medium to have something to do with my argument as well.

            For us as a group, I would say our strongest skill as a class is talking. Just as I find the class discussions beneficial to me, I believe they are helpful for the overall class as well. I think that it is great that we have an open environment in which every student (hopefully) feels comfortable speaking and sharing their ideas. I think we could work on continuing the conversations outside of the classroom, especially online. Though I think the online forum is great and I enjoy seeing what my fellow peers have to say, there is little engagement happening. I myself don’t partake in commenting as much as I should and would like to try it out more. 

            Overall, I have found the class to be eye opening and thought provoking. I was particularly drawn to the cyborg section of the class, and think I will continue to explore Cyboricity even after the semester is over. I have found our discussions on gender to be intriguing, though lesser in number (maybe they’re relatively equal, but I feel like we discuss technology more..?). I would like to see our class continue to push the texts and bring gender into the discussions.

            Lastly, books or films…Well, I guess I’m more of a film-buff than a book gal (yeah, I know, I’m in an English class..but I couldn’t think of any books ok!?) and I do know a lot of tech-filled movies out there so here are some suggestions:

--Jean Luc-Godard’s French science fiction film, Alphaville (1965), uses real locations and no special effects to present a dystopic image of the future and its technocratic dictatorship. (lots to pull out about technology and gender)

--Another dystopic film that I am obviously a fan of is Blade Runner. Also a lot of gender roles and the future of technology that could be discussed.

--Along those same lines is Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) in which a Utopic city, divided between the wealthy and the working class, has an underground world of workers, who run the machinery that keeps the above ground world functioning.

--Then there are those films that portray the technological advancement in our lives as normative: more along the fantasy lines of The Matrix or modern day online romance in You’ve Got Mail.  

---Last but not least, any of the James Bonds movies… I’d recommend those from the 1990’s post-internet culture such as Goldeneye, or Die Another Day

ekthorp's picture

Mid Semester Evaluation

            This class has personally been one of the most challenging, and rewarding classes I have taken so far at Bryn Mawr. Granted, I am only a freshman, but I thoroughly enjoy how the texts thoroughly confuse me, and clarified so well by the professors in class. I also feel like this class has really pushed me to not only do well, but to do things I am not really comfortable with. While I may have screamed at my computer for half an hour during the second web project, I enjoyed that project so much more than any paper I have ever written. As much as this class has made me develop, I also feel like there are things I need to work on, especially considering the online aspect of this class. I am not accustomed to a class where a large portion of the participation is online, and I think I have not taken advantage of the online interactions I could be having as much as I could be. However, I know a lot of people have been very active on the Serendip website, so I think that is a personal issue, not related to the class as a whole.

 I really enjoy how independently the class runs. I enjoyed the panels, as well as the class discussion. I think the discussions have taken us great places that we would not go to if the class was more monitored, such as the creation of that chart that charted how public or private character’s lives were, as well as whether their lives were humanities of natural scientifically based. I think people also fee self-motivated to participate in class as well.

As for a text I think we should read, I would really enjoy reading Uglies by Scott Westerfield. Uglies is a young adult novel set in a future U.S. in which at age 16, everyone receives body modification surgery to appear beautiful. This is done to make every one feel equal and avoid conflict due to unequal beauty. As an Ugly, someone who has not received the surgery, you are given much less liberty and resources as a Pretty, someone who has received the surgery. Every young person awaits eagerly for their 16th birthday to be able to enjoy life as a beautiful Pretty. The biggest question the novel asks, though, is if the body-changing technology is creating better lives for people, or if the technology is causing people to imagine they have better lives. It is an enjoyable, easy read that asks a lot of questions.  

tangerines's picture

Mid-Semester Evaluation & Book Suggestion

So far in this class, I think what works best for me and the group in this class are our discussions. The subjects covered and the ideas generated are really interesting and interactive. I think what I need to work on individually is developing my web paper ideas in new ways. I'm really interested by the innovative web papers others have done and in the second half of the semester I want to explore new ways of writing and thinking about the web papers, beyond a cut-and-dry essay.

Something I think we could work on as a group would be discussions of our web papers. In another course I'm taking (The Story of Evolution and the Evolution of Stories) during a group discussion we talked about what the topics we planned to write on for our web papers. Hearing what others were interested in was really fascinating and got me thinking about different questions to consider in my own paper. I think briefly talking about our ideas for web papers as a class would be really helpful.

Overall I'm really enjoying the class; most of the concepts we've covered have forced me to reconsider my assumptions and really explore and understand my own ideas. A good example of this is our discussion on what constitutes information. Although I'd previously expressed dissatisfaction with the black-and-white definitions of gender, before this class I had never stopped to consider why exactly they were unproductive or what alternatives exist.

I was originally going to suggest that we read Feed, but saw that aybala50 already recommended it... :) So instead, I suggest Neuromancer by William Gibson. It's one of the biggest novels in the cyberpunk genre, and revolves around a computer hacker who's hired to complete a challenging hacking job. Some of the novel's themes are the future of technology, the benefits of integrating computers/technology with our bodies, and the (free?) exchange of information on the internet.

 

aybala50's picture

Mid-Semester Eval and Book Suggestion

I think the amount of readings we have is reasonable and the timing for papers and postings fit my schedule perfectly. I wish that we read more novels, however, I have enjoyed the articles we've been assigned. Considering the amount of discussion that goes on, I feel like the class size is kind of large. However, I'm glad that we've figured out how to work together with such a large group. I feel like everyone contributes evenly and there is open discussion both during class and on Serendip, which is possibly my favorite part of class. I like that if a discussion is left unfinished in class, it can continue online. 

I wish that there was more commenting amongst each other's work. We've posted 2 web papers so far and several comments on the discussion thread. I would like to see the discussion thread be more of a discussion.

I learned a good amount by thinking about things I haven't before. I feel like I knew most of everything we learned about concerning gender, but hadn't put enough thought into it and it's relation to technology. Overall, I've really enjoyed the topics we've discussed and I look forward to furthering what we've discussed so far. 

Finally, a book that I would like to suggest for the end of our course is Feed by Matthew Tobin Anderson. The book is of the cyberpunk genre and takes place in the future. It's a dark satire about corporate power, consumerism, and data mining in society. The lives of everyone in this world revolves around advertising. The internet has evolved into the "Feednet", which is a computer network. The brains of American citizens are directly connected to this network with a chip called "Feed", which is often inserted at birth. You can have advertisements show up in your head just like pop-ups in a computer......but yeah, it sounded like it could be an interesting read. 

Riki's picture

eval

Since the class is so large for everyone to be able to contribute to the discussion, I find the smaller group discussions helpful. It's always interesting when we reconvene as a class because I always think everyone will have come to the same conclusions, but that is never the case. So I think the smaller groups might make it possible for more views/ideas to come out. I enjoyed the panels, especially when people got really into character. I need to work on posting more frequently.

Talking about gender was fun, but it didn't strike me as anything new. I do think that other people in the class learned a lot. I feel as though people probably enjoyed the gender discussions more than the information discussion, but I found the information discussions to be more interesting because I hadn't given much thought to information/meaning/understanding. Well, that's not entirely true. I've given it thought, but I think it's easier to draw conclusions about gender than information.

I've been struggling to think of a text. The first one that came to mind was House of Leaves because it's written in a style that's so different from anything else I've read. But it's very long so it might not be a realistic suggestion.

cara's picture

Book Suggestion and Evaluation

One topic I would like to explore more in class is language as a technology and how it shapes the way we think, and more specific to this class, how we construct gender. I've kept my eye out for a book that discusses this topic, and one I found called "Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages" by Guy Deutscher seemed like it could offer some interesting insights. However from reviews I've read, it seems that it focuses more on the idea of color, with gender only occupying a small part of the book. Another interesting option I found is called "What's Next: Dispatches on the Future of Science" by Max Brockman. This book is composed of several essays that focus on various issues related to ethics and the human mind, and while none of them explicitly mention gender, I think we could easily apply it to gender in our class discussions and postings. Some particularly interesting essays include:
    "How Does Language Shape the Way We Think?"
Language is a uniquely human gift, central to our experience of being human. Appreciating its role in constructing our mental lives brings us one step classier to understanding the very nature of humanity.

    "How to Enhance Human Beings"
Given our rudimentary understanding of the human organism, particularly the brain, how can we hope to enhance such a system? It would amount to outdoing evolution…

    "Watching Minds Interact"
Perhaps the least anticipated contribution of brain imagine to psychological science has been a sudden appreciation for the centrality of social thought to the human mental repertoire.

***

I like that in this class we are able to have discussions both in class, and online. I think the postings, and the fact that our projects are also on the web really enhance our discussions. The online postings really help me to gather my thoughts after a week of in-class discussions. In this class, I think the topic that has really challenged my previous mode of thinking the most is the idea of redefining the self as having more ambiguous boundaries, and the inclusion of various technologies into this self.

Previous discussions I've heard/read that relate to our increased reliance on technologies have always involved an element of negativity, and it was really interesting to challenge that.

As a group I think we are all learning to listen to other's perspectives and to allow them some validity. Despite the cognitive dissonance that these different ideas may initially cause.

leamirella's picture

Mid Semester Evaluation

I have really enjoyed this class up to this point. I really like how I come out of each class completely dumbstruck and confused (but in the best way possible) and I really like how it challenges me to completely rethink things that I had previously thought were givens. I'm thinking in particular about Haraway at this point and her leaky distinctions. Personally, I really enjoy the fact that we use serendip as a means of exchange because I like to look at what other people's opinions are about our discussions. One and a half hours twice a week is really not enough to fully discuss and digest the questions that we are trying to answer as a class. I don't really think we are learning anything truly collectively because each person responds to the course material in a different way which I think is perfectly fine and normal.

In terms of books and films that I would suggest, I picked up a book over the break called "You are not a Gadget" by Jaron Lanier which I have yet to read but looks like it would be extremely relevant to the course. I've also made very surprsing links between this class and my theatre class in terms of looking at the self and the reinvention of the self so that may also be an interesting angle to look at. Also, given the panelists that we had before the break, I think it would also be really interesting to watch a film that had a cyborg or part human/part animal in it. Something like X-Men perhaps?

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