This unique philosophy-based social media course in Sydney asks what philosophy can teach us about social media. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are challenging our ideas about privacy and intellectual property. These sites promote an ethos of openness and sharing that is impacting on business, government, and civil society in important ways. This philosophy and social media course explores how social media is changing our sense of value, personal identity, and ethics. Approaching social media from cultural and political perspectives, we seek to understand how this new realm of technology is transforming 21st century life.
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This philosophy and social media course covers the following topics:
I Tweet, Therefore I Am?
We consider how we form identities on social media. We review Peggy Orenstein’s 2010 article, ‘I Tweet Therefore I Am’ and consider what Orenstein’s experience says about personal identity online. We use Michel Foucault’s idea of the Panopticon to reflect on the experience of posting on social media. We inquire into the ‘prismatic self’ that is generated on social media, and ask how Foucault’s idea of the ‘art of life’ can help us cultivate a healthy virtual identity.
What is Social Media?
We review the history of social media from the 1960s to the present day. Following Gilles Deleuze’s lead, we trace how the culture of openness and sharing that thrived in the 60s communes was continued in the hacker communities of the 1970s and 1980s. Sharing was fundamental to the creation of the personal computer, the internet, and the World Wide Web. Hacker values and norms are implicit in the operation of leading social media systems like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
Technology in Question
We locate social media in the context of cloud computing and ‘big data’. Drawing on Martin Heidegger’s philosophy of technology, we reflect on how, in a data driven world, we are all numbers in a system. Heidegger’s critique casts the ‘graph wars’ between Facebook and Google in a disturbing new light. We examine how sharing culture is exploited on social media, and how co-creators, or ‘prosumers’, are becoming a major economic resource.
Gift Economics and Collaborative Consumption
We examine the connection between social media and collaborative consumption. I argue that collaborative consumption is an expression of the ‘gift shift’ that is being driven by social media. We unpack Marcel Mauss’ theory of gift economics to explore how sharing creates ‘social capital’ and builds thriving communities. We reflect on Friedrich Nietzsche’s ‘gift giving virtue’ as an ethical paradigm for the age of collaborative consumption.
Swarm Revolutions: from Tahrir Square to Occupy Wall Street
We explore how social media is rebooting contemporary protest movements. The Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street are examples of ‘swarm movements’ - movements that can swiftly emerge, dissipate, and re-emerge in the social era. We review Baruch Spinoza’s theory of the multitude to examine how swarm movements hinge on commons values and experiences. We look at the crowdsourced democratic methods used by Occupy Wall Street for insights into swarm activity.
The Future of Social Media
We consider the future of social media. We discuss how the history of social media that we’ve charted in the course challenges the view developed by G.W.F. Hegel, and continued by Karl Marx, that history moves towards a final state. Postmodern philosophers like Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, and Jacques Derrida do a better job of explaining the disruptive logic of the social era. The class draws on Derrida’s philosophy to review how social media is deconstructing traditional business models and introducing new ways of creating value through open collaboration. We reflect on the business models that work best in the social era, including Google’s Android ecosystem and Facebook’s Open Graph, and review Doc Searls’ vision of Vendor Relationship Management.
Upon completion of this philosophy and social media course, participants should be able to:
- think critically about social media
- reflect on the cultural and ethical foundations of successful social media projects
- understand key concepts of modern and postmodern philosophers including Foucault, Heidegger, Deleuze, Nietzsche, and Derrida
- apply these concepts to reflect on how social media is changing contemporary life and identity
- understand swarm movements and what distinguishes them from tradition social movements
- appreciate the intrinsic value of social media and how to best integrate it into everyday life
What others say about this course
Excellent teacher, absolutely fascinating course. I feel privileged to have been in the class. I want to know more!
T Rayner was an great lecturer, he was engaging and informative. His perspective was incredibility educational and I would highly recommend the course.
The following social media courses are similar to this philosophy and social media course:
- Social Media Marketing Course: Facebook, Twitter & Blogs
- Social Media Course: How to Build a Social Media Website
- Social Media Course for Business: Facebook & Twitter
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We can provide corporate training to organisations for many of our courses, including customisation to suit your needs. This can be a cost-effective training option for more than 10 participants. Contact us for details.
Philosophy and Social Media Course from the University of Sydney - training courses, short courses, lessons, workshops and classes open to everyone. Enrol in Philosophy and Social Media Course and learn with the University of Sydney's premiere provider of short courses and training courses in Sydney - a professional and flexible learning and training development alternative to Sydney TAFE courses and Sydney community colleges - Jason Riley, Operations Manager, Centre for Continuing Education.