Topic List

This is a list of topics covered by the assigned readings and/or related to the general theme of the course, and which will form the basis for your weekly writing on your domains. For each topic, there are some suggested readings outside the assigned textbooks. Feel free to start with those suggestions, but also to go beyond them and find the most helpful information you can on the open web.

Keep in mind that there are two goals here: to learn the topic yourself, and (in line with the writing-intensive nature of the course) to distill that topic into a clear explanation that you can provide to others who are non-experts ― which will in turn help add clarity to your own understanding.


The hidden data collection and tracking behind online advertising.


Artificial intelligence, machine learning, computational statistics, predictive analytics, and other "black boxes" that govern how the internet works for us.


Application Programming Interfaces: the way computers talk to computers on the web, and the underpinning of most modern web apps.

Attention economy

Beyond material goods and the information age, we live in an age of information glut where those who can manage attention ― both theirs and that of others ― will thrive.


In the attention economy, censorship is not a denial of information ― which usually backfires ― but a denial of attention.

Cloud computing

Networked computing, server farms, and big data.

Collaboration and collective intelligence

It's not what's in our brain, it's what's in our network ― including our human network.

Copyright, fair use, Creative Commons

The internet has drastically changed the landscape of intellectual property, copyright, and enforcement.

Data ownership, privacy, and surveillance

Who has access to your data, and what can they do with it?

Digital identity

Cultivating a purposeful digital identity and personal brand.

Adrian Williams, Unsplash

Disinformation & crap detection

Truth, lies, truthy lies, falsey truths, "fake news," and media bias.

Internet history and development

How did we get the web we got? What's next for the web?

Internet protocols

The code behind the code.

Mindfulness on the web

Managing attention, focus, and connected digital life.

  • Net Smart, Chapter 6

Networked activist leadership

The internet has drastically changed how activism works, especially its leadership.

Representation (gender, race, culture, orientation) and harassment

How do algorithms reproduce and magnify bias and stereotypes?

Security and safety

Protecting ourselves, our data, and our loved ones online.

Social media

And anti-social media.

Web design and implementation

Making your Domain of One's Own your own.