Wikipedia:Ambassadors/Courses/The Anthropology of Cyberspace (Terry Epperson)

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Course description[edit]

FSP 124-04 The Anthropology of Cyberspace

Course Description

Science fiction writer William Gibson coined the term “cyberspace” in 1982, long before the development of the Internet. Whether it is, as Gibson termed it in Neuromancer, “A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators,” or merely where you go to find music and keep track of friends, cyberspace is a ubiquitous aspect of daily life. In this class we utilize a wide variety of media (e.g. social networking tools, scholarly research, science fiction, popular film) and employ the anthropological technique of participant-observation to gain analytical distance and address some fundamental questions. What do we mean by “cyberspace”? How did it come to be, and how could it have been different? How has it affected your ability to find and process information and create new knowledge? Are you more isolated or more sociable because of your cyber-interactions? We also explore these questions through our own interactions, researching and writing in small collaborative groups and conducting some of our discussions on online wikis. Similarly, we screen and discuss The Social Network in conjunction with conducting interviews and critical self-reflection about the role of social media such as Facebook in our daily lives. Rather than conveying a set body of knowledge, this class is a shared, multimedia exploration of the origins, experience, and future of cyberspace.

Instructor and Ambassadors[edit]

Terry Epperson
Campus Ambassadors
Terry Epperson
Online Ambassadors
Sonia (talk) DGG (talk) Arsonal (talk)


Week 1: Wikipedia Essentials[edit]

In class
  • Overview of the course
  • Introduction to how Wikipedia will be used in the course
  • Handout: Welcome to Wikipedia (available in print or online from the Wikimedia Foundation)
Assignment (due week 2)
  • Read Five pillars, an explanation of Wikipedia's basic rules and principles

Week 2: Editing basics[edit]

In class
Assignments (due week 3)
(See this and this for example assignments.)
  • Create a Wikipedia account, create a user page, and sign up on the list of students on the course page.
  • To practice editing and communicating on Wikipedia, introduce yourself to one of the class's Online Ambassadors (via talk page), and leave a message for a classmate on their user talk page.
  • All students have Wikipedia user accounts and are listed on the course page.

Week 3: Exploring the topic area[edit]

In class
Assignments (due week 4)
  • Critically evaluate an existing Wikipedia article related to the class, and leave suggestions for improving it on the article's discussion page.
  • Research and list 3–5 articles on your Wikipedia user page that you will consider working on as your main project. Ask your class's Online Ambassadors for comments.

Week 4: Using sources[edit]

In class
Assignment (due week 5)
  • Add 1–2 sentences of new information, backed up with a citation to an appropriate source, to a Wikipedia article related to the class.
For next week
  • Instructor evaluates student's article selections, by week 5.

Week 5: Choosing articles[edit]

In class
  • Discuss the range of topics students will be working on and strategies for researching and writing about them.
Assignments (due week 6)
  • Select an article to work on, removing the rest from the course page.
  • Compile a bibliography of relevant research and post it to the talk page of the article you are working on. Begin reading the sources.

Week 6: Drafting starter articles[edit]

In class
  • Instructor and/or Campus Ambassadors talk about Wikipedia culture & etiquette, and [optionally] introduce the concept of sandboxes and how to use them.
  • Q&A session with instructor and/or Campus Ambassadors about interacting on Wikipedia and getting started with writing
  • Video resource: Sandbox tutorial
Assignments (due week 7)
  • If you are starting a new article, write a 3–4 paragraph summary version of your article (with citations) in your Wikipedia sandbox. If you are improving an existing article, write a summary version reflecting the content the article will have after it's been improved, and post this along with a brief description of your plans on the article's talk page.
  • Begin working with classmates and Online Ambassadors to polish your short starter article and fix any major transgressions of Wikipedia norms.
  • Continue research in preparation for expanding your article.
  • All students have started editing articles or drafts on Wikipedia.

Week 7: Did you know[edit]

In class
Wiki assignments (due week 8)
  • Move sandbox articles into main space.
  • For new articles or qualifying expansions of stubs, compose a one-sentence "hook," nominate it for "Did you know," and monitor the nomination for any issues identified by other editors.
  • Begin expanding your article into a comprehensive treatment of the topic.

Week 8: Building articles[edit]

In class or outside of class
Wiki assignments (due week 9)
  • Expand your article into an initial draft of a comprehensive treatment of the topic.
  • Select two classmates' articles that you will peer review and copy-edit. (You don't need to start reviewing yet.)

Week 9: Getting and giving feedback[edit]

In class
  • As a group, have the students offer suggestions for improving one or two of the students' articles, setting the example for what is expected from a solid encyclopedia article.
Wiki assignments (due week 10)
  • Peer review two of your classmates' articles. Leave suggestions on the article talk pages.
  • Copy-edit the two reviewed articles.
  • All articles have been reviewed by others. All students have reviewed articles by their classmates.

Week 10: Responding to feedback[edit]

In class
  • Open discussion of the concepts of neutrality, media literacy, and the impact and limits of Wikipedia
Wiki assignments (due week 11)
  • Make edits to your article based on peers' feedback.
  • Nominate your article for Good Article status.
  • Prepare for an in-class presentation about your Wikipedia editing experience.

Week 11: Class presentations[edit]

In class
  • Students give in-class presentations about their experiences editing Wikipedia.
Wiki assignments (due week 12)
  • Add final touches to you Wikipedia article. Try to address issues from Good Article reviews.
  • Write a reflective essay (2-5 pages) on your Wikipedia contributions.

Week 12: Due date[edit]

You made it!

  • Students have finished all their work on Wikipedia that will be considered for grading, and have submitted reflective essays.


This table will list each article that a student is working on, and which other students will be peer reviewers for the article.

User Article 1st reviewer 2nd reviewer
User:TMFrezza, User:Ignolan, User:Kylieod10 Lucy Suchman open open
User:Zkrog, User:Bernie325, User:Marinarasauce93 Sherry Turkle open open
User:STLRacing, User:Schlangy, User:Sidow9 Paul Dourish open open
User:Cardosr1, User:Bizarrefth, User:EmHenn11 Etienne Wenger open open
User:Hane2, User:Victoria.iacovone, User:BigKitty609 Bonnie Nardi open open
User:Dcast55, User:Kolinsd1, User:LeRoy74 Chip Morningstar open open

Article banners

To mark each article the subject of a student project, add the following code at the top of the talk page for each article: {{ WAP assignment | course = Wikipedia:Ambassadors/Courses/The Anthropology of Cyberspace (Terry Epperson) | university = The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) | term = 2011 Q3 | project = WikiProject Internet culture }} That will result in the following banner (and make the articles easy to track):