Week 10 Writing the History of the Internet
Your chance to tell the story. Using the long zoom approach to explore and analyze digital publishing and Internet culture.
How does the medium of the Internet shape academic writing? We will have a chance to explore this question first-hand this week as we write our case studies for the Disruption unit.
Print culture evolved over five centuries, and the form factor of the book remained relatively stable throughout that period. Internet culture, in contrast, has developed rapidly and has been characterized by a series of disruptions of both the cultural forms and the economic processes of writing and publishing.
Academic genres like the essay, journal article, case study, and research paper represent the long history of academia’s engagement with print. As we have learned, universities and academic culture even pre-date the printing press. A robust textbook industry was built around medieval universities during the manuscript era in book making, long before Gutenberg’s innovations in printing. Academia is in many ways a byproduct of print culture and the technology of the book, and it is also an engine that has driven the evolution of printing and publishing. It is impossible to imagine the institution of the university without the medium of print, and it is impossible to understand the growth of print culture without the institutions of the university and the research library as its infrastructure.
As we write the history of the Internet, both our subject matter and medium of composition have changed. Today, we write about the Internet using the tools of the Internet—hypertext, web design platforms, blogs, Google Sites—creating new forms and genres for academic writing along the way.
As you write your case study, try to maintain a dual focus. Think about your subject matter and research questions—the content of your writing. And think, too, about the process of your writing. How does your thought process and approach change when you move from the tools of print culture to the tools of Internet culture?
Be sure to look at the case studies created by students in last year's class for ideas and inspiration.